Taken For Granted

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About a month ago a ride at Percy Warner felt more like a job than something I do for fun. It got me to thinking about the first time I rode out there 4 years ago during the Tour de Nash. I still remember the feeling I had going up the hills for the first time. The sensation of riding and seeing a new place. I could describe certain moments with vivid detail. To this day I go out there to try and match that same feeling. It is a pointless endeavor. I don’t know when it was lost, but at some point I started to take the park for granted. The views, noises, and solitude I used to crave became an expectation. Sure I still love everything about that place, but that deep down feeling is gone. I don’t ride there unsure/excited/afraid about what is around the turn. I know when to push myself, when to back off, and what side of the road to ride to avoid potholes. It is ridiculous for me to assume that all emotions, experiences, etc will consistently bring feelings of euphoria.

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I know we are probably all guilty of something like this. How often do we set aside someone, something, or someplace because we expect it to always be there. Maybe I am the only one? If I took the time I am sure I could name countless friends that at the time I would maybe wave off to hang out with. Thinking to myself, oh they will be there tomorrow. Well tomorrow left, and in many cases so did those friendships. There have been plenty of days where I just don’t want to go out because I am exhausted. My rationale is that I could always go another day.

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I wanted to stop counting the seconds of my ride, and start counting the things I appreciate about it. Well maybe not “count” these things, but stop to enjoy them. Slow down on my bike to pet a dog and talk to the owner. Stop to take a picture from an area I always enjoy. Instead of passing another cyclist, adjust my pace to have a conversation if possible.

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We all have that person or place that no matter what we are doing, if we see them we will turn our heads. I am sure you are thinking about someone now. That person that no matter what the craziness of life brings, time slows for.

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That is why I bought a compact camera recently. It isn’t as nice as my DSLR, but it fits in my back pocket and gives me the opportunity to slow down. That one view I always ride by knowing it will be there next time, well now I stop to take a picture.

Those flowers I pass and tell myself they will be there on my next ride. Now I stop to really look at them. People and places aren’t out here for us to just walk with. They are there for us to appreciate, enjoy, and experience life with.

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We are all busy and have plenty on our plates. But ask yourself, are you really too busy for that person? Are you really too exhausted to go out to enjoy that place you love?

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Go out this week to enjoy that place. Reach out to that person to tell them how much they mean to you. We all know how fast time goes, so why fall into the trap of thinking there is always another day. Make today that day.

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Unconditional Love

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I am not the type of guy who likes to express my emotions when it comes to sadness. However, I am hoping that writing this will help provide some relief as I sit here in pain. Today I had that moment that everybody fears. The phone call from your dad while you are at work. It is rarely a good sign, especially under the current circumstances.

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To provide a bit of a back story, Copper was diagnosed with cancer in early January. Over the past few months it has been a struggle getting him to eat. I can’t imagine how hard it was on my mom seeing it every day. I really do ask that you keep her in your thoughts and prayers. This morning all of the kids got a text from mom saying they were taking Copper to the vet because he fell down the stairs. I was nervous, but to be honest I wasn’t very worried. Then about 2 hours later I got a call from dad and I fell apart before answering. I knew something was wrong, and I didn’t want to answer. It can’t be bad if I never hear about it.

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Dad tried his hardest to explain the situation as we both spent all our energy trying to hold it together on the phone. We failed. Copper had been fighting so hard for 3 months, and it had finally hit that point. This morning they had to put Copper to sleep. Eight years wasn’t enough. I don’t think I have ever felt so broken and sad in my life. I hung up and headed to the bathroom and by the grace of God nobody was in there to see me. I went into a stall and wept like a child for probably 15 minutes.

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I am not trying to turn this into something about me, but situations like this are why I have always been skeptical of relationships. I don’t fear the relationship itself. I fear this pain and sadness. The toll it takes on me investing myself in someone not knowing if they will invest the same. Giving so much of myself to someone only to have it taken away.

So now I try my best to keep people at arms length. By no means am I saying I should live like that, but I feel like I should be open about myself during this time. I try to put on a mask that I am strong and cold, but in reality I am driven by emotions and weak. I hide behind humor because I don’t want people to see who I am. Scared that I will be viewed differently or taken advantage of.

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As I type this I am having one of those good cries. The ones where snot is everywhere, you make weird noises, and you can barely see. The crying that will ruin the shirt and pants you are wearing. Copper really gave his all for us, and never expected anything in return. I wish I could have been there for him to help ease his pain. Sure he was just a dog, but he was so much more than that to me and my family. He was my brother. I don’t know of anybody who was ever as happy to see me as him.  Even towards the end he would try his best to act like everything was ok. I feel so bad thinking that he was the one trying to lift my spirits. How selfish of me, but how selfless of him. Him knowing and feeling so much pain, but putting this aside because I might be having a bad day. You the real MVP.

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I will really miss him, and I do not look forward to the first time I go to my parents without him there. I don’t want to see an empty front door. I want to worry about him stealing my napkin from the dinner table. I want my pants to have dog hair all over them. I want to walk inside wearing clean clothes only to have them destroyed by slobber. It feels dumb asking for your prayers since I don’t like asking for help. But please keep me in your thoughts, along with the rest of my family. Sure Copper was a hassle sometimes, but that was only because he was still a child at heart.

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It is going to take me awhile to get back to normal from this. I am devastated. I love you Copper and I thank you for 8 great years. You will be missed.