Dressed in white to protect my chemo ravaged skin.
I climb on my bike to dance with Eldorado Canyon.
Site of my first mountain bike ride.
My back yard for 17 years.
She's seen me through divorce, marriage, death and rebirth.
Today she brings out one of her favorite games - the 40 knot headwind.
Ride, or no ride?
Today I have no companions but I think back to my morning in the infusion room. My fellow patient complaining of chest pain.For most of us, chest pain brings fears of a heart attack. For him, there are scarier demons at work. It's likely that his cancer is eating away at his sternum, birthplace of now deadly stem cells.
He carries candy with him everywhere to ward off the casual cough that would bring him agony. His life is probably measured in months. So of course I choose to ride.
On the flats, into the wind.
5 mph, heart rate 155.
The wind is strong, noisy and full of life.
A walker comes the other way and says "Gotta love the wind, eh?" And I think - yes, I do love the wind. The sun highlighting the mountains. The yelling wind making the tall grass dance. I think back to my chemo buddy. Is that my future? Hobbling around with a cane, candies to ward off a cough, hoping that I've had a heart attack because the alternative is worse?
And I think - not today.
Today I tack the mighty Ibis uphill, into the wind. I get into the shoulder of the canyon and she welcomes me into her arms. The canyon will be here long after I'm gone, whether I'm done in 5, 15 or 35 years. As I climb up around the corner, I feel her strong voice again, howling through the trees and the rock walls.
"More work" she says. "If you want my soft pine forest and to be hidden from my roaring wind, you must do more work." Or turn around now. No one will know but me. Turn around or not. Go forward into the wind or not. The universe doesn't care. Only I care. And I choose to go forward. Today my legs are stronger then they were yesterday. My blood is healthier than it was a week ago.
Today I choose to go forward.
The medical community has given me its alphabet soup of treaments. ABVD, ICE, BEAM. SGN35. 4 protocols, 33 infusions, 15 months. Working, scratching, clawing for life. But right now, the only thing I need is to be here, in the mountains, nestled up in the canyon.
I get into the trees and God is waiting. Some people see God in big cathedrals made by man, or see him through the writings of people thousands of years dead. For me, I see her waiting in the trees. The light dapples through the pine trees. Soft dirt underneath. I hear her roar overhead but in the forest, everything is still. The trail is soft and winding and I flow along it. I see the remnants of a past forest fire and the rebirth that always comes after the fire. At this moment, everything is simple and happy and joyous. I get the smallest glimpse of everything that is good and right and beautiful. My mind is quiet and she has given me the simplest and most beautiful of gifts - awareness.
I'm up over the highest point in the trail. The wind starts to blow at my back, the trail flows downhill and I'm released from all the work and effort of climbing. I think back to the needle in my arm this morning. It could be life saving or it could be nothing. Double-blind I think, and laugh. A medical term that pretty much describes what we do in life. Is this decision good or is it bad? Should I do this or that? Does it matter or not? I laugh at how so many of our decisions don't seem to end up meaning much. And the canyon sends me another lesson. A big gust of wind pushes me toward the edge of the trail and a steep descent into rocks and brush and unhappiness. "Hey, stupid", the canyon says to me. "Some things may not matter but if you want to get home with all your body parts in their current positions, steering your bike DOES matter. So get your head out of your cosmic ass, get back into the moment and flow down this beautiful trail. Because if you don't pay attention, I will bitch slap you into next week."
Got it. Pay attention, today is real.
I may end up like the guy in the infusion room. But Not Today.
I may end up making bad decisions. But Not Today.
There may come a point where I can't get up to these beautiful places that the goddess has created for us. But Not Today.
Today I have everything. The goddess awaits me in the mountains and my soul mate and human goddess awaits me at home. Today I have everything and it is all I could ever want.
Today is Everything.