Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lemons and Lemonade

We are all familiar with the truism--when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But should we? At what point is it wise to take stock of reality and determine that either I will change my reality or I will live as best I can within it? I believe that the lemonade truism is trying to encourage people to make the best of difficult circumstances, but sometimes I don't want to just make the best out of a bad situation. I want a new situation--or a different view of the current situation that is not merely putting lipstick on a pig.

I am all for being a realist. But not completely at the expense of dreams and aspirations. The two do not need to be mutually exclusive. One of my favorite books is Jude the Obscure. In Hardy's classic, Jude Fawley has dreams and aspirations of becoming an artistic stone mason who builds glorious cathedrals. Instead, he allows his perception of duty and obligation to lower his sights and extinguish his dreams. It feels to me like he stops trying and dies a slow and ignoble death. And since the first time I read the book (summer of 1981), I have labored to NOT be Jude Fawley. I certainly haven't always succeeded. But a part of being a realist is that dreams die, or morph into something different. I fear that if we as humans stop dreaming altogether, then we start dying.

It may seem odd, but the winter is when I miss running the most. There was a certain feeling of vitality and conquest to head out on those cold and dark mornings when prudent people stayed snuggled under warm blankets. I have been working very hard cycling indoors this winter (in excess of 500 miles since January 1), but it is not the same. The dreamer in me wants to head out into the dark, fearsome cold, but the realist understands that the orthopedic surgeon knows what he is talking about--and I really don't want knee replacements if I can help it.

So I look for ways to give extra energy and passion to my riding. One thing in particular is working. During some of my indoor workouts I have been watching DVDs of the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia. It really makes the time pass quickly. At almost every stage of each race there is a mad dash for the finish. As the leading riders get to within 5km of the finish, the cameras generally stay with them to the end. I have been working hard to match the cadence of the racers over the last 5km (not the speed of course--or otherwise I would have a different job). This way I feel like I am doing something beyond just lazily pedaling along to the end of the ride. I understand that it is different than actually riding the race, but it is the closest I can get from my basement.

It might be easy to lament my inability to run any more. To try to make lemonade. But instead I am going to write a different story. A cycling story. And from lemons I plan to make hot chocolate.

Pressing On,