It’s spring and my train pulled into Happytown a couple of weeks ago when we finally got into some weather where only one layer of clothing was required to stay warm on the bike. We, my friends and I, have been riding all winter long, whether on the trainer indoors or outdoors, weather permitting, but I never get the same enjoyment out of that… To me, riding on the trainer or out in the cold is just getting miles in for the sake of staying fit for spring. Then spring hits and I get a few miles in outside and all of a sudden I get excited about how cool my life really is. It isn’t perfect by any stretch, because I make sacrifices for the sake of a highly subjective life balance.
Put simply, my father gave me a great example to not follow. He worked hard, drank harder, smoked a shit-ton, made a lot of money, alienated his wife, my mother, and did a lot of morally repugnant things before “seeing the light” after it was way too late. Like, Alzheimer’s too late. He was already in the process of losing his mind before he took steps to rectify the damage. There were apologies and halfhearted attempts at atoning, a short sober stint followed by a “Ward Cleaver” phase but it was too late. His last five years scare the hell out of me (not “scared”, scare).
All too often we see and hear about people who sacrifice their younger years to make money only to retire and find themselves in such a diminished capacity that the idea of what retirement would be, chilling out on the back porch in the hot tub reflecting on the awesomeness that is retirement, is impossible. Worse is the fella who spends their middle years making money and allowing themselves to get fat, only to retire and give up and find losing the weight is harder than making all of that money – only to find that two months after retirement the health issues start and render him immobile, or close to it. Then there are those so utterly irresponsible that they spend their younger years suspending career aspirations just to have fun, only to find once they hit retirement age, they can’t actually retire. Then we have kids. How often do we hear about how fast kids grow up, about how often the time flies to a point of regret in not taking time to be a part of their lives after they’ve already moved on? Happens all of the time and while I certainly don’t want to put those people down, I don’t want to be one of them either.
Being a recovering ex-drunk I know what it’s like to be so miserable that I don’t want to live anymore. Having paid attention to my father’s demise, I know what it’s like to leave this planet way too soon on some pretty crappy terms…
Balance matters, family matters, friends matter, and my smokin’ hot wife matters. My sobriety matters. And cycling most definitely matters.
Beyond that, what matters most is enjoying each day as it comes and doing the best I can with the gifts I’ve been given…. and passing my joy, just for being on the right side of the grass, pumping air. I will not piss all over today for some unknown payoff someday in the future. My goal is to leave this world exhausted because I had too much fun… not because I worked too hard and died too soon.