What we are doing is very hard – tiring and taxing. Why did I agree to do this? I pondered that exact question today.
Today was a tough riding day – 154km so and 750m vertical – but 30% (45km) on rough gravel roads, and a very late start due to a CTV interview. On top of that, despite very comfortable accommodations, sleep came slowly. Why am I starting with these defensive statistics? To explain that I was tired, and I used some of that extra riding time to think through some weighty and uncomfortable subjects. Skip this post if you’re not in the mood.
A friend told me that he had an upsetting medical prognosis: he would die from his ailment within 2-3 years. His ailment was not PD, although that was the original mistaken diagnosis. I was dumbstruck. He was surrounded by loving family and friends, and didn’t need more emotional support. Instead, he asked me to be a friend that he could go to for opinions on practical matters – like a lawyer or doctor. I agreed. He was wondering why bother with the agony and humiliation of a painful demise. I gave this a few day’s thought, and responded with this: you still have an important role – to show your children how to face adversity – even the worst imaginable – with dignity and courage. He liked that.
I think about that conversation often, and just realized that since that time, I have been trying to give myself this same advice. I can’t change my prognosis and long-term I can’t escape the symptoms. But I can manage my attitude about how I will deal with my own adversity. I want to fight for my health, and I want others to join me in the fight for theirs.
I enlisted with a team that had an audacious plan – almost impossible – and then worked very hard to prepare. It is working. I feel stronger and countless others have been inspired to reconsider the path that they are on and fight for something better – whatever that means to them.
I want my boys to see me do this and to bake in their bones how to handle adversity, so they will know exactly what to do.
I miss my friend, and think of him from time to time. I think that he would have thought this cycling plan was crazy, but that he would have laughed and said to go ahead without it anyway, with dignity and courage.