Thursday, October 15, 2009

Trilogy; " Please Forgive my Trespass...II"

"A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing . To himself, he always seems to be doing both."


I ride my wife's bike at least every other day, or more if I can, weather permitting. I don't have my own bike yet. I wanted to make sure I could, after all, it's been a long time. Then of course, did I have the requisite discipline to follow a regimen. Isn't that every one's Nemesis? I think I had the resolve, definitely there's necessity, so it wasn't that surprising that it quickly became an activity I looked forward to the most everyday. The exercise is incrementally transforming and empowering, but there's also therapy in the late afternoon revelry I experience like anesthetic, a calming respite in exhausted stupor or maybe that's hyper-ventilation. All very meditative, except for the frenetic "Brownian Motion" that spontaneously combusts with epiphany and revelation mercilessly in my head. It's like the burst of understanding you discover in the shower sometimes, but frequently lose to some other selective priority in your brain; an override that started in my late 40's. I don't think my brain is full any more, it was lobotomy like inactivity, with a memory as ephemeral as the water circling the drain of the shower.

On the road ideas lubricated my mind with the improved circulation of cycling. Resolution become hi-def, I couldn't wait to get home to write it all down. I resisted the temptation, deciding that I would remember the good stuff. NO, I forgot! So I bought a tiny digital recorder to supplement my faulty memory, at least until the chemo damage wears off. Is that going to happen? Now I could breathlessly pant anything that came to mind without interrupting my ride or my reverie. The ride was my muse. I delighted in fanciful exploit. I railed against ideology and dogma and rode with exaggerated vigor gritting my teeth at inaccuracy. My own stridency was sublime. I examined the state of my dysfunction; Why hadn't chemo destroyed some of that? I considered that ten months ago was the genesis of my deconstruction, unraveling piece by piece into undifferentiated parts. Now in Resurrection my twisted tendons uncoil and brittle ligaments loosen still undisciplined without muscle. No longer conditioned with everyday movement.

For months I was devastated by chemo and side effects some both familiar and clandestine still. My extremities engorged with fluid unrelenting without the circulation to abate its swell. What malignancy infiltrates my viscera now? The sprocket of my bike spins with confidence, the sinew of my thighs dictate the rhythm of my ascendancy, measured one breath at a time. I am where I belong I can assert with conviction. My mantra reassures: " be still your beating heart, breath in, breath out, exhale with contented resolve". My presevation is all that matters. I must secure that by whatever means.

My intuition is keener now, my perception acute. My conceit no longer commands my observation, it is uninhibited by oversight. When I first started riding I had difficulty maintaining my wistful musing. I was disconcerted by my relatively new overture into the neighborhood. In ten years I only observed it in passing from the anonymity of my car at 35 mph. I only saw buildings, rarely people; I seldom acknowledged with more than a perfunctory wave.

From the outset I was uncomfortable with the portrayal I advertised. The specter of a man racing by purposely, menacingly in dark glasses, gasping for mouthfuls of air, in training perhaps or escaping or worse still, being pursued, but looking suspiciously like a burgling interloper ( casing the neighborhood ). My salute met trepidation, hard faces and a concerned eye. I would genuflect my contrition at each street, please forgive my trespass. And so it went until eventually came acceptance with regularity and a wave. I knew I would win their hearts with persistence. Their dogs apparently were going to be harder to convince of my benevolence. I'm not sure I frighten them more than they do me. It took awhile to stop thinking about what would happen if I was to be bitten and how deadly that might be. Every so often one would get out. The dog was more curious than it threatened as it approached or maybe it smelled the rot of chemo and determined I was inedible.

My introductory recording came from an incubus reflection I saw on the windshield of a truck. I had stopped at the busiest street I needed to cross. It's always treacherous during after work traffic. They sped by obediently in single file. There was a military urgency about the procession, you only notice from this vantage. I felt exposed and the vehicles seemed more imposing as they hurtled by in a burst of compression, squall like and deafening. Inadvertently, I looked into expressionless faces with scant awareness there, many inattentive with phone conversation. Moving headlong joylessly and blank; snapshots of humanity in slow motion when I turned my head and synchronized their passing. Blink. An instant of distraction. Atmosphere convulsed the miasma of inevitability in the vacuum of backdraft. It's void echos the murmur of pulse, kinetic now with momentum, suddenly chaste and then ethereal with the short breath of recognition; sanguine with the reassurance of prescience, somehow elegant and painless without the sound or the fury of anticipation. Never feeling ,tearless,breathless, lifeless.

I stepped back judiciously after witnessing my own demise with such dramatic violence. When I listened to my recording later I was reminded once again how our lives are always in peril (one way or another). What is the calculus of my longevity, the risks to my mortality? Death has no preeminence, only inevitability. That isn't fatalist recoil. It provides clarity and context. the clarification of self-proclaimed apostasy; fear has been my only apprehension, my Achilles; the arrow has been in my ankle all along, only needing to be excised by me.

I fear at times my language has assumed obsessive rapture, an ecumenical artifice I had not intended. But , is it so unrelatable? I know my occasional invective is fraught with apocalyptic fervor. In my angst to find truth I have discovered a crisis of faith, a loss of meaning. We should all examine our state of being, perhaps we can find improvement there. I do not endeavor to judge. The formidable task of recalibrating the extent of my own relevance, defining my sense of purpose is all I have the strength for. Recreating myself; adapting, coping, harmonizing as evolution dictates we must. And yes, at times with mordant irreverence I'll remind you that "everyday choice is presented to us in a thousand different ways; to live up to the spirit which is in us, or deny it". My spirit is intact, I see that now. I listen closely to the sound of the thinkers own thoughts; " I am the way, the truth and the light". So, please forgive my trespass, I thought you might enjoy my odyssey.

"It takes strength to survive, It takes courage to live! May you find strength and courage in everything you do. And may your life be filled with Friendship and Love!"

inpiration; annonymous


  1. I find this very introspective and have clarity and focus. I admire your resolve

  2. loved reading this Tom...although I probably should've gotten a dictionary to look up some of your words! I am forwarding this to Beth and Leslie...they are big cyclists and will appreciate reading your experience.

  3. I enjoyed reading about your experiences while riding. In my 15 years of biking around the Wilmington area I've had some similar experiences. I'ts funny how people will stare at you as if you are not human, a zoo animal even. I hate to bring a negative note into the spirital experience your having, but I can't help myself. There are plenty of jack asses that will yell at you from their car and revel in their success if they startle you. I've had bottles thrown at me and old ladies almost run me over because they refuse to cross the center line while passing me. I've been involved in wrecks where half of the group was spralled out on the road. One of my favorites is being yelled at to "get a car" from a red neck in a junker car while I'm riding my titanium bike that could probably buy his whole world.

    I know I sound as though I don't enjoy the activity. Nothing could be further from the truth. I moments when the road is humming under your wheels in perfect harmony with the music in your head. And all thoughts slip away and there is nothing in the world but your breathing and "pedaling circles". Tailwinds and smooth pavement are positively cathartic.

    I endure the negative because there is so much positive in the sport. I'll never forget the time a group of us rode 93 miles on a 98 degree July day. When I got home I layed on the floor beside my refrigerator for more than an hour and just kept pulling food out and eating it. My physical and mental toughness had never been tested to that extent. Laying there with nearly no reserves, I couldn't wait to ride again the next day.

    Sorry to be so long winded on your stage Tom. Lets go riding soon and talk about it.

  4. Bill,I hope your comments will inspire others, as they did for me.This stage belongs to all of us. Mine is but an infinitesmally small obtuse-angled perspective. I aspire to share my vantage with whomever else feels an impulse to celebrate their endeavors, their battles;rejoice their acclomplishments and revel in them. To that end you have challenged others I hope will express theirs. T.