my biking buddy bill told me a story:
this morning he was riding up millcreek when someone started to overtake him. testosterone bubbled up, and bill put on the speed. nevertheless, bill got passed. by someone older than him. someone with gray hair, probably at least 60 or so. uh-oh.
you guessed it, bill starts working even harder, determined to stay on this guy's tail. which he did: bill is a great climber, a strong rider period. (he has to hold back when he rides with me, or he does loops around me: up and back, circling, waiting for me.)
gray-haired-guy wins, but not by much, and bill catches up to him on the way down. they ride together for a few minutes, while bill compliments him on how strong a rider he is. the guy acknowledges the compliment, and says, "it's all I've got to live for."
as bill relays this story to me, I am stunned, then immediately jump to rescue the man. maybe his wife just died two weeks ago, he must be in a temporary hole, it can't be his total life outlook, it's got to be a momentary thing . . .
it made me reflect on the millions of unknown stories out there. to bring it down to a manageable thought, I concentrate this morning on the cyclists I see out when I ride. they all have stories, lives, whole universes of which I know nothing. maybe some are riding to relieve pain and anguish, maybe some are riding to prove they are physically capable. some may ride to release stress and anxiety, some may ride because they are in training for a limit-pushing event. some probably ride to escape, some ride for pure pleasure, some ride to work off the extra piece of cake they ate last night . . .
my point is that we all have stories, and they are all more rich, varied, and deep than we can ever imagine. we see physical attributes, we hear quips, we seek clues from facial expressions. but we cannot know anyone's truth unless we sit and be with them for a substantial period of time.
I will make up a story to go with this gray-haired man. I have not seen him, I do not know him. but I have some small clues, and I will fill in the rest with feelings. he has experienced loss, and is hurting. so I will send him love and peace and strength via my God network. you know, that universal energy that flows within and between all of us . . . some of you may deny its existence, but I know it's there.
to my gray-haired man, and to all of you who have ever suffered loss, I send peace and love, and energy to heal. we humans are amazingly resilient, and I know he will once again, someday, feel that he has more to live for than cycling quickly up a canyon.