as Ernest Hemingway once said, “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
I read an article today talking about how to keep happiness from fading. It talked specifically about remembering brighter days. I came away thinking that, we all experience challenges and successes.
It’s odd meeting someone who’s unquestionably angry, bitter, or even malicious. I often try to speculate what took place in their life to break them to such a point and if the anger is more about them allowing it to happen to them. I know you can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control how you react which ultimately controls what happens next.
I always think about Shi and his final days and if there was anything I could’ve done to keep him here. I remember being angry at the surgeon and wanting to punch him when he said he was sorry for our loss. That first year after Shi passed was filled a lot of bitterness and regret.
Trust became a very delicate and complicated thing for me. In order for it to work, you have to believe the words that are expressed. From products to prayer everything starts with something someone says. It took awhile for me to understand that trust, like everything else is an illusion, a way to allow yourself an easy out if something doesn’t go your way.
Yes, information is legitimate, and we can’t live without it. But i think life is a relationship based on negative & positive energy. What does all of this have to do with the article. Well, for me happiness is about overall energy. There’s something that grounds your positive and negative energy. I think rhe “ground” is your memory. If you remember the negatives, there’s a better than greater chance you will live with anger.
I took a minute, but I chose to remember the positives from my life changing experience. Why be bitter when I can spend time celebrating Shiloh.
A brief conversation about an upcoming event:
Why would you train for a ride that is not a race?
I am riding with friends, and I do not want to be the weak link. I want to be helpful, and I don’t want to get off the bike. To walk uphill. There is nothing more soul-sapping.
And I like to go up.
Going up. It’s just so daunting. It feels impossible. Like you just are kidding yourself that you can get that pedal back down.
What I like is when you’re almost at your limit. And you find this place, this rhythm. That you can sustain. And you sit in that spot, just cranking it out. And next thing you know you’ve conquered a mountain.
Hm. What are you thinking? Literally, what goes on in your head?
Well that’s the beautiful part. Up to that point, you’re struggling. You’re filled with doubt. You can’t make it. And then it all settles down. And your mind goes blank. And you’re just a piston.
But seriously, no other thoughts?
All crowded out. It’s that magic focus. It’s how you go up.
Trust.Belief.Accountability. It’s so easy to find an excuse that allows you to escape the T.B.A. Excuses can be like the weather…something different everyday.
I did not feel like riding today and felt there were some valid reasons not to. But the more I thought about, the more I realized I was rationalizing and not finding reason, so it was in my nest interest to ride.
40 miles out the way, family picnic, and banquet behind me, I’m sitting here with a tired body, but satisfied mind. I encourage everyone to trust, believe, & be accountable to the journey. If it’s weight loss or endurance, project or task remember to control what you can control when you can control it!!!
Shiloh passed away 5 years ago today…heavy, heavy thoughts. Can’t wait to jump on my bike!
If there’s any lingering effect of my going through the insanity of losing my son in 2007, it’s the fact I literally can’t stand going to the Dr. It’s not as if I don’t respect what they do. I get that they go to school for a very long time and rack up a mountain load of debt to eventually be able to live a pretty quaint life. But as I’m always reminded…it’s not called “practicing” medicine for no reason. Nonetheless, the past few weeks for me have been medically horrific. Not in a life is in danger kind of way, but more so, I feel like crap and can’t get it resolved.
The first deal was an upper respiratory issue. That’s beside the point. What’s significant is that the Doc told me I needed to get lots of fluids and stay off of my bike. Ok, so….I don’t feel dehydrated, to my point he told me that because my body would be fighting the issue, blah, blah, yada, yada, whatever…I needed to take in lots of fluids to keep from becoming dehydrated. Then the bottom hit the top. He suggested drinking gatorade. I told him I try to stay away from the stuff, he asked me what I drank when I was riding. After telling him about “infinite” and why I drink it…he suggested I’d be better off drinking the sugar in the gatorade opposed to the sodium in the infinite. Hmmm, very interesting I thought…especially since I was only in his office because my regular Doc couldn’t get me in on short notice and this Doc was recommended by my regular’s office.
Why is this so interesting? Glad you asked. My regular physician is a sports specific doctor. He rails against drinking Gatorade especially during intense activity when you are losing a lot of electrolytes. He checked out the formula for my infinite solution and outside of upping the potassium, deemed it ready to rock n roll. Mr. fill in Doc, told me he was a runner, my regular Doc is a triathlete. Not that this really makes a difference, but it does hold some value. See, I’m certain the fill in was recounting many, many times when he was on a run and began to get tired…drank some Gatorade and BOOM! he was refreshed and replenished. When in reality, his brain was reacting to the sugar (or HFCS) found in the gatorade and didn’t note that his system (muscles, etc) didn’t reboot with the Gatorade. However, the sports Doc, being a triathlete discovered at some point that he needed something a little more than sugar to make sure his performance didn’t diminish over the course of the activity.
Don’t get me wrong, I drink Gatorade, but not to prevent dehydration and I really stay away from it when I’m simply sitting on my ass counting the ticks on a clock. Oh, by the way, the fill in told me that it’s not good to supplement with sodium, and that we get all we need in our food (and gatorade) and chided me even after I told him that after long rides I can look like I took a salt bath from the dried sweat. To my surprise, he said, “it’s good to be a heavy salter”. Whatever…man! Well, I’m trying to get back on the mend and hopefully, after taking this “getting in the way of my goals” break, I’ll be able to laugh out loud about my fill in Docs advice.
Suffering. We tend to think about what defines it, what causes one to suffer. Yes, one could be addicted to searing lungs and numbing pain or the fascination of having tormented one’s mind or the insane game of testing one’s ability to survive extreme conditions. My interest in suffering is not how I suffer, or what causes me to suffer, but instead it’s the small gleams of wisdom derived from suffering. Over the past couple of years, I’ve constantly been hearing the phrase “the fundamentals are good”, and although it’s become a laughable and overused phrase, it does have some real meaning.
Everyone will experience some degree of suffering because suffering is a fundamental order to moving forward (code word for getting old). Suffering is not pleasant, but it’s a worthy act and without it, I know I’d become stagnant, indifferent, I’d almost venture to say….frozen. In my mind, peace can only come through understanding who you are and what you want. You don’t get to that point by not discovering. I’d imagine the opposite of suffering is being comfortable and the opposite of going forward would be backwards, and if you don’t refuse the status quo, then you accept it. This is why cycling is such an amazing act of living. You must go forward, you must deal with the seat, you can’t escape the elements (okay, you can, but you get the point).
After being in the NICU for a couple of months, I began to take notice of how the place operated like an orchestra, and eventually concluded that the place was a grand opera. The machines beep in a rhythm, people move with a sense of character, there’s drama, comedy, and the occasional flub. There is no one who is without a role. Sounds like being out on a group ride…and although suffering in the NICU is quite different from suffering on a bike, the opportunity is the same. It’s the opportunity to learn something about yourself. I think one disconnect non-cyclist have about cyclist is that we randomly select some stretch of road to become a nuisance to cars and trucks.
The reality is that every cyclist is out there searching…searching for clarity, looking for humility, praying for calmness. Becoming fit is a byproduct of searching, but the bottom line is that we are choosing to suffer. The NICU was a strange, weird place, not too dissimilar from the lifestyle of an avid, rabid, cyclist. We suffer, we search, we discover, we learn. Sounds too simple to be effective, but for me, simple is a good, great thing.
Strength is not defined by physical prowess, mental focus, or a 10-star college education. Strength, by all accounts, is a combination of patience and stubbornness. This perfect intersection is called perseverance and every child born early becomes a student and eventually a lecturer. Life in the NICU is a place full of distractions…from the incubators, to the constant beeps, quietness in the mix of chaos and for the most part each day ends with life and/or death.
The babies are so small and the hopes so grand I’m surprised that there isn’t a higher level of insanity among the adults. Life in the NICU also taught me a new lesson about being ready, how to prepare, and how to use a few items for a multitude of needs. After a few weeks, anything I needed, I carried in my backpack and even today I load my backpack as if I won’t be coming home for a few days…strange yes, but, the fact of the matter is that “you never know”. It’s the same as having non-perishable goods in the house in the event of a loss of electricity, flood, or need to get the hell out (a jump bag)!
Back to perseverance. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a situation in which each and every breath was important. Each one becoming more important than the next. Have you ever talked to someone, but watched their chest or throat instead of their eyes or lips. Weird, I know…but this is life in the NICU. The nurses always told us that babies are far more resilient than what we give them credit for. But this does not take away your wish to take away his or her pain. I constantly prayed to take Shiloh’s hell…I didn’t feel it was fair for someone so young, so small, to go through so much. My thoughts are no different today than in 2007, and although I do understand that if Shiloh was here and I was gone, there would still be pain, HOWEVER, I’ve had a very good run as a citizen of the earth, but the NICU taught me that death has no conscious and EVERY life will expire. Life in the NICU taught me to be prepared but not be scared.
I’m uncertain if brave is the correct word to use for the NICU babies, perhaps a combination of motivational phrases would be more appropriate. What I do know is that those babies are special and the NICU reiterated to me that every person is “special” because of the uniqueness of his or her spirit, and your spirit is your greatest attribute.
I’m happy the NICU is not a place all babies will visit, and I’m hopeful that those parents will take the time to understand and appreciate how each and every breath is precious.
The Memorial Day weekend always seems to be one of the most busiest weekends of the year. Popular for graduations and weddings, it also signals the start to the long holiday weekend season which is great for getting away from work. I’m cool with the holiday, but like all holidays for me it comes with specific memories of Shiloh.
It was around this time in 2007 where we’d survived so much. Surgery after surgery, doubt after fear, hospital drama, and quarantines. Shiloh was doing well. He was nursing and we were optimistic we’d be going home soon. MDW 2007, was a good one. I can’t recall really having a good weekend in May since that time, that is until this past weekend. I had to go to a couple of weddings and my nieces graduation. I kept thinking about Shiloh and how he’ll never have a graduation or a wedding and how in 2007, we were talking about how great those two events would be for the family. The great thing about MDW 2012 is that it was spent with family & friends, and although there’s this void, there’s a promise.
I’ll fast forward to Monday the 28th. Had a chance to ride with Jay, Larry, and Mike, 3 great guys who are serious cyclists, but they have fun when they ride. It felt good to get in 40 miles, enjoy good conversation, and think about Shiloh. I keep going back to my promise to Shi that I would continue to move forward and not allow the past to dictate the future because my focus would be on the present. Those 40 miles really represented that because I’ve been working to get over a cold, produce a good work product, be as helpful as possible around the house, and of course get my training in. It was nice to simply move forward on the bike…perpetual motion, that’s the key.
The graduation on Friday was great, bike race and wedding on Saturday very cool, and the wedding on Sunday was very nice…Monday was the BOMB!!!! Even though I was coughing up the rest of my lungs by Monday night, I’m happy I got up at 5, got ready, and got my ride in. Next up is another grueling training ride, but I can’t wait for my next casual ride. It took 5 years, but my
Memorial Day weekend was a blast.
Today was a very intriguing day. I had this insane idea to go volunteer at the hospital where Shiloh was born. This was a huge step and as I thought, a rush of memories hit me like an asthma attack. I remembered the drive down the main road. It was at night when we rushed Vivian to the hospital and the drive today seemed to tread as slowly as the one back in 2006. Shiloh was born January 2007, but we were admitted into the hospital December 28, 2006. Nonetheless, I’ll never forget the Beckley & Colorado intersection. That night, as I approached the intersection, the light turned yellow…I could have entered on yellow, but I stopped. 2 minutes almost passed before the light turned green again. At the time, I didn’t think that the 2 minutes could be the difference between life or death. It was not, and I’m happy for that. But I do remember debating, running the light, or driving through the intersection on red. I chose not to, not because I’m some law-abiding citizen, but as soon as I would have gone through that light, “something” would have happened.
We turned on to Beckley and headed toward the maternity ward. For the life of me, I can’t remember if we went through emergency or general admit. What’s wild is that this hospital was the 2nd of the night. Prior to this jet setting adventure, we went to Charleston Methodist near our home. They basically told us, we needed to get to Methodist in downtown Dallas. Great, wonderful, way to go making us feel good about the situation. I believe they told us about the NICU at the hospital downtown. I was desperately trying to remember this as I drove toward the hospital today.
As I approached the parking garage today, I looked to my right down a side street and remembered how I would try to be first to park on the street because it was free. It’s interesting that if you are admitted to the hospital, at least in our case, you don’t get your parking ticket validated. There was a lot of construction going on back in 2007, and the place has expanded and the facelift looks pretty decent. It’s still a hospital, and 1 of 2 places I’d rather stay away from. Same old restaurants, the 7-Eleven still looks like it’s one day away from closing, and the lake still had a good amount of walkers.
Anyway, I went to the hospital today to attend a 3 hour volunteer orientation. Even after sitting through it, I could not explain to Vivian exactly what we were orientated on that required 3 hours. Parking was easy, walking to the elevator…easy, but when the doors opened to the first floor. I froze. Without even thinking about it, I knew the Chapel was to the right. There were many a night where Vivian would go down and read Psalms 91. The rest room was to the left and you could make a B-line to the cafeteria from there. As I walked out and toward the information desk, I wondered, why am I here, what’s the point. There were two elderly ladies at the desk, both of the phones and flipping through the surgery schedule. A third lady stood behind them and she directed me to the conference room for the orientation.
I walked through the door with waaaayyyy too much swag and I think I caught the group off guard. I’m thinking it’s 9:01 and you’ve already started okay, wow! We had to do the “who am I, and why am I here” bit. It was harmless, but the guy next to me, kind of described himself as some type of baby whisperer, but hey, it kept the morning light. The memories continued to flow and even during the break I tried to put the madness of 5 years ago into some kind of perspective. After going through the do’s & dont’s, expectations, and benefits I have to admit, I was ready to go. But I do understand form and the importance of insulating yourself against liability, but next time could we please leave the DVD’s in the storage room.
It was a nice day with a nice group and although difficult, it was rewarding. Afterward I spoke to the volunteer coordinator who asked why I wanted to volunteer, I won’t bore you, but you know it included Shiloh. She shared that her 5-year-old was born early and spent a couple of days in NICU, I’m not certain why, but she cut short her sentence. She did say she was sorry for my loss, which I replied he’s still with me. I recognized she was trying to figure out what direction to take the conversation, so I quickly told her…”I’m good, I have no complaints….today is a good day”. She smiled and I walked away hopping on the elevator to get the hell outta dodge! I’ll see them again on May 24th.