Limitless (part 2)

THIBAULT CAMUS/AP
THIBAULT CAMUS/AP

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” –Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

The first argument that comes to mind is  that Robert Marchand is limited by the fact that death cannot be avoided. Although he cannot avoid death, Monsieur Marchand has life by the throat! Being 102 years of age, this incredible cyclist broke his own world record of 26.927 kilometers (16.7 miles) in one hour. Magnifique!

As I approach my 45th birthday in May, I often catch myself sighing. I hear people jibbing about not giving up on dreams . . .  I think, at forty-five I won’t be making a professional cycling team. It is hard to discard a dream and want something new. Did I give up on a dream? If you have been reading my blog at any length of time, you would already know that I only re-discovered the joy of riding a bike three years ago. There was no shot at making a professional team. It’s absurd to think so, but to completely honest with my readers I did dream of how incredible that would be. I tried to imagine myself as a professional in local races and during my century rides. I even a had a group of kids run with beside me on a climb one time, during a race, and imagined I was in the Tour climbing Mount Vonteux. Silly, I know. And I am also aware that when I open myself up to the entire world there are available places to attack and mock. Dreaming like a child may be called childish, but I truly believe that death comes in many forms, not just the physical. 

Cowards die many times before their deaths.
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.  –William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

I am sad when I see an elderly person sitting in front of his television for hours and hours on end. Death has come, even though he is still breathing. There is no spark of life. The excitement of what the coming day may hold is gone. Why does this take place? Obviously, every person in that state of mind has his own reasons. I just don’t want to find one, ever. I’ll keep pedaling and dreaming. I am not consumed by this because I am closer each day to what may be the end. I only want each day to be special and memorable. Many people are, for the first time, because of an iPad commercial, discovering a poem by Uncle Walt; albeit, it could not be said better.

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

                                       Answer.

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. –Walt Whitman, O’Me! O’Life!
After his record breaking ride, Robert Marchand was assisted by friends and displayed a nice smile before saying, “It was very good, but at the end it started to become very hard!” I guess we could attribute that to life as well. After all, I still have 58 more years before I can challenge Monsieur Marchand’s record. There. I just had another dream.
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