Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ride Report

Enough being serious for a while. Let's just do a ride report and call it good.

Yesterday the old mountain bike called from the garage and said, "Lets go out in the rain and mud and see what happens."

Well who am I to resist the call? Loaded up and off I go to some trails near the Home. At least the rain stopped but it's pretty gooey in the woods all the same. I've been on these trails before so I know where I'm going but it's been months since I was last here. The climb is always worth it.

The whole thing was mostly uneventful and I was taking some cell-phone pics as I went along. That's my favorite thing sometimes...just cruising the hills and looking around.

Speaking of looking around...I'm not exactly sure what this was but I was hoping whatever was chewing on it wasn't still hungry.

And this spot is one of my favorites. I've taken some great pics here before and once again, it didn't disappoint .

All was well until the descent back to home plate. I took a little-used side trail that at one time was a road of sorts. The usual assortment of down trees and mud was the order of the day until I got almost to the bottom...

Slick me decides to be all Red Bull and bunny-hop over a little gully across the trail. Good idea, poor execution. Missed the timing and planted the front wheel directly into the opposite bank of the ditch. This resulted in the most instantaneous stop I've ever experienced. 

In less than an 'oh shit' period of time, the back wheel leaped over my head and I absorbed a fairly significant landing by planting my face in the mud. My helmet kept the impact from shoving my glasses into my eyeballs but the rest of me catapulting overhead gave my spine a crack that probably echoed off the hillsides. 

This is not ideal because in that same short period of time between sudden stop and having grass and mud shoved up my nose, I remembered that there's no cell service in this area. And of course, nobody in the world knows where I am or when I might be due back. Note to self...

I wondered if I'd actually broken my fool neck and if I had, would the coyotes or bears find me first? Funny how much you can think about when the ground comes rushing up to meet you.

In that moment after impact, I mentally ran through the checklist to see if any parts were not answering orders to move. All the extremities seemed to be responding but why the hell does the world look all crooked? Oh, that's because your glasses are on your chin and you're actually upside down with grass hanging off your helmet mister. 

Now it's time to wiggle out from under the bike and take stock. I very slowly managed to get oriented to the horizon and checked again for anything broken or leaking. Minor stuff mostly except that the vertebra in my neck feel like they're still embedded in the stream bank. I wonder how many are crushed and how long I'll be in traction...

But soon enough, the adrenaline rush fades and I manage to find my feet on the end of my legs right where I left them. Small moves...swab most of the mud off glasses, readjust crooked helmet, untangle sod and goop from handlebars and very gingerly saddle up. It's only a short coast the rest of the way down the hill to the truck. Good thing because I'm not sure I could ride very far.

Back at the trailhead, I had to carefully change back into my sneakers, peel off the soaked gloves and muddy helmet, load the bike and ease my sore self into the truck. It's always something.

You'd think I'd learn at my age that I'm not 25 anymore and this kind of stuff is probably pretty stupid...but how good is a story about tripping over your slippers? I've just gotta work on the bunny-hop...

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Black

I've been watching a lot of traffic on Facebook and elsewhere lately wanting everyone to share a phone number for a Suicide Hotline. I won't say it's wrong but seeing it from a slightly different perspective, I would say that a far, far better idea is to look around you. Look closely.

There's this place that I call 'The Black'. It's not a real place and I can't actually describe it but I know it's there. It kills hope. It kills people. 

Who do you see who hasn't been around much lately? Who hasn't called in a long time? Who has been avoiding you? Who's having trouble at home? Or work? Or who seems ok but somehow you know really isn't?

Think. Hard. That one you haven't heard from may be the one in the Black. That one will not call a hotline. That one is sure it's already too late. That one may already have a plan and a goal and is waiting just long enough to convince themselves that the time is now. 

Or that one has no plan at all. They're only one little nudge away from never coming back.

Or that one will come to believe that nothing else matters and no one else cares and so will go into The Black alone. 

Suicide is all about being alone. So alone that you no longer fear anything except another day. So alone that hurt is all you know and you'll do anything to make it stop. Think about that. Being alone kills people.

Nothing will stop that one missing person except maybe, just You have a power that no stranger on the other end of a phone can ever have. The power to be a friend, an ear, a shoulder. Trust me in this. 

Posting a number on your social media isn't necessarily a bad thing and maybe it'll help someone somehow but the one really looking down the barrel probably isn't reading Facebook. They don't want to see how happy everyone else there is; how wonderful their lives and kids and spouses and homes and jobs are. It's all an illusion that only makes it harder to breathe. They don't want to know. 

They've heard that suicide is 'the easy way out'. They know you think it's selfish and cowardly and a sin. They know you think they don't care about anyone else. And they know you're wrong but they're so lonely and afraid that none of it matters anymore. They know that life hurts so much that they're willing to leave it.

What they really need to know is that they're not alone. They need you. Not to tell them to suck it up or look on the bright side. Or say you know how they feel because to them at that moment, no one can.

Don't tell them to do anything because where they are, they can't. Just be there and watch out for them. Hug them while they cry. Help them any way you can.

Call the number yourself if you have to because it's pretty likely...they won't. They're afraid that if they call, they'll lose their job, lose their kids, lose everything and then it loops around to, "Why the hell should I call and make the misery even worse?"

It isn't logical. It isn't fair. It's The Black and it twists everything.

It makes a holiday into a nightmare; a birthday into regrets. Anniversaries become unbearable and sadness is the new normal. Pain is all there is in the world. It's The Black and it closes around you like a shell. Nothing gets in and nothing gets out. People in that place all die alone. 

So no, I suppose posting a number isn't wrong. Going on a walk to 'raise awareness' is probably ok too if you don't happen to be suicidal but believe me...people who are have already raised their awareness as high as it'll go. 

I know with all my heart that anyone looking down that road is not listening or looking at anything but an end. They need a human touch and a human voice. You, not an 800 number are suicide prevention.

Look around. Look hard. Someone needs you. They always will.