It was only the wrong place and the wrong time because I normally wouldn't have been there.
When riding with a group, I can usually be found either off the back or off the front. After three concussions, my M.O. is simple: stay out of harm's way. Doctor's advice is never as strong as spousal admonishments, and, thankfully, I have both. So the fact that I was next in line when several of the first placed riders hit the deck right in front of me was proof that I must have wanted to crash. But as I t-boned the cyclist in front of me at 30mph, an adrenalin surge slowed time down enough for me to question my motivation.
I spun to my feet so fast that the majority of the peloton didn't realize I'd gone down. And since I don't particularly like cold, I was wearing enough clothing that people couldn't tell what kind of damage was done anyway. But I immediately knew my left arm was broken. In an effort to prevent concussion #4, I put my hands out as I flew headfirst over the bars. The shock ripped my radius out the back of my arm, leaving my left elbow quite a bit removed from its original location. And based on the pain growing in my right arm, I was pretty sure it was broken, too. I did a quick circle, trying to walk away from the carnage which I knew rightly included me. The rest of the peloton was slowly coming to a stop as people got off their bikes to make sure everyone was o.k.
Everyone wasn't. Several folks were on the ground, and a couple of them weren't getting up. Broken collarbones and scapula, I'd hear later. Ambulances were called. Bikes were picked up and put back together. A couple of my buddies helped me with my ride--the chain was off, and my arms weren't going to allow me to put it back on. Guess they didn't want to ride anymore. But the memory of an earlier ambulance ride which ended my cycling career was something I didn't want to relive. So I didn't listen to the screaming pain in my arms as I straddled my bike and somehow started riding home.
Di had every right to be mad. But she's been through this enough with me. She's the ideal co-pilot, and we've survived more than crashes together. Our life has often been one of the strong helping the weak. Of supporting the other when life decided that Now needed to happen. And I have no problem admitting that she's been the one to reach a hand down to me more than I've ever had to help her up.
And while I know that we all could probably say the same about someone in our lives if we're brave enough to recognize them, the truth is everyone is in a constant relationship of giving and receiving care. Or guidance. Or instruction. Even the folks we absolutely hate. The ones who piss us off or disgust us for whatever reason. Their presence in our lives is an offering. Sometimes they're showing us aspects of ourselves we don't want to acknowledge exist. After all, we're experiencing the world through our own senses, our own filters. And we can only see in others that which exists in our own bodies/minds/souls. That's true for all the beauty we see, hear, or feel as well as the ugliness we experience.
A trivial example of that teacher for me is the random smoker. Especially the guy who, sitting at a stop light in his car, casually throws his cigarette butt out the window. And even as anger rises up in me, I realize his complete lack of consciousness is a selfless act which reminds me how we are alike. His act of thoughtlessness helps me become a bit more present for a while. Gets me out of my head and aware of my own actions. My own Present. I realize I'm blessed to understand the importance of health. I can get joy from the hints of green instead of being imprisoned by a concrete maze leading nowhere. And that's just one person. That's just a couple of many possible lessons!
In the picture below, you see me supporting my son. But what you cannot see is the growth that being so incredibly necessary for another brings to me. Or to you.
The dimensions of relationships which exist among all of us are too intricate for me to explain. I'll save that for brighter minds which understand the subject better than I ever could. But what I do know is that we are here, in part, to help others. If I had the use of both arms right now, I'd probably be out training. The sun is enticing and the start of the 2013 triathlon season is drawing near. My competition is right this very minute swimming or cycling or running or even lifting weights while I'm here pecking and searching with one finger and as one soul for my next words.
Someone asked me after the crash how accidents like that don't happen more often. I told him that a group of cyclists can at times be so in tune with one another they move as one. Inches apart from chaos, we're like a flock of birds who know where to move and when almost on instinct. Osho says that some souls are brought into this world just to change the direction of another soul. And though I may at times feel so small or inconsequential when compared to scales of time and space, the Universe is simply not the same without me. Just like the peloton which continued down the road that day was not the same without me. Their direction was changed.
For some reason, these words are what someone needed to read. Or maybe I just needed to write them. Though tired now, I feel more healed somehow. Everyone in our own personal realities is there for a reason. And we are all at one time either helping somebody up or being picked up ourselves. I thank every one of you who has reached out to express sympathy or concern. I applaud all the players in my life and cheer you for each of your beautiful lessons. For your assistance in bringing me back once again to wholeness. And simply for reading and listening.