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  • Writer's picturegordonjcampbell

Inspiration to continue riding Uphill

“I don't stop when I'm tired; I stop when I'm done.” David Goggins

One of my bike riding routes takes me through our Kawasaki neighborhood's back streets past rice fields, children's playgrounds, and attractive Japanese homes to the end of a cul-de-sac. The exercise continues as I carry my bicycle up several flights of stairs and cross a major thoroughfare leading to some ominous hills.

I gear down and begin the climb after a short moment of meditation to build resolve. I tell myself that "you can never quit until reaching the summit, and the rewards justify the pain."

After only a minute into the ride, I'm gasping for air, and my legs and lungs begin to burn.

My mental coach kicks in with messages driving me to reach one destination at a time, focusing on the next target, and continuing the exercise until the road levels.

There's a feeling of elation as I reach the end of the incline, but I'm left physically and emotionally exhausted and praying for my breathing to normalize.

The hard work is finished, and the reward is a gravity-fed downhill run. There are flat stretches and a few welcome and manageable inclines, forcing my heartbeat up and requiring my legs to stay warm and in motion.

The scenery is sensational as I glide past temples, shrines, schools, parks, an ancient burial plot, and an orchard. It's early December, but the late autumn colors remain and are remarkable.

It's a terrific way to spend an hour and encompassed by a liberating feeling reminiscent of my boyhood when whole summer days were spent exploring on a bicycle.

The expedition on my two-wheeled-machine is also a microcosm for the life pattern many people once considered possible.

The general premise was to focus and achieve your lifetime goals by studying, concentrating on a career, developing superior expertise in your field, networking, building a client base, creating credibility, working the required and sometimes excessive hours while making sacrifices.

The experiences resulting from the commitment to your career were expected to someday amount to something tangible, which in today's terminology would be "real."

After doing the right things for a concentrated and extended period, you'd arrive at a better place where "working smart" would create time to enjoy the things which ultimately drove you to finish climbing the hill.

Paying forward was supposed to amount to credibility, a business, tenure, seniority, a portfolio, a pension, retirement, and some time with grandchildren.

Unfortunately, it's now time to reconsider the dream and reconstruct one's life plan for many.

The ride's end becomes less predictable as we witness rapid technological change and society's ever-evolving value system. The Covid-19 disruption has knocked any concept of a credible lifetime plan out of reach for many of us.

We're being forced to reevaluate our strategies and pivot as we plan and act. We'll need to dig down deep to find the passion which once drove us up the hills and allowed us never to quit even when few other choices existed.

There will be others facing much more dire straits as we sort through the damage of the pandemic. Many of us have learned to live with less, but growing numbers have little to live on at all.

I'm gratified to be associated with individuals and associations working to support people in need of a helping hand. The generosity I'm witnessing is the timely inspiration required to gear down, grit my teeth, and climb the hill.

The downhill ride at the end of the trip is no longer guaranteed, and with a look at the "real" picture from the top of the hill, it matters far less.

Purpose and fulfillment come in tandem with the practice of charity. These concepts alone are reason enough to return to the road and get on the bike.

“Faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Corinthians 13

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