"I just wanted you to know,
this is me trying."
When you have a 14-year-old in the house, you listen to Taylor Swift. A lot. It's just what happens.
We spend an exhausting amount of time barely making it through.
Watching the clock.
Waiting for school, chores, work to conclude.
Waiting for dreams to diminish with excuse.
Defaulting to no action, often, because it's easier.
What happens when you exert effort, and no one is watching or waiting to hand out accolades?
Do you still expend the energy?
This is most of life, isn't it?
There aren't trophies or parades.
Our biggest challenges are not witnessed.
And sometimes the biggest challenge is getting out of bed in the morning.
So how do we make it matter?
Better yet, how do we help the young people in our lives
Feel that quiet promise of meaning and inspiration?
To try even when no one is watching.
To light themselves up.
And not be embarrassed.
What does that choice look like?
A few weeks ago, I raced my first mountain bike race. I've raced many other types of races, but this was the first time I'd pinned a number on a mountain bike. Mountain biking can be deeply intimidating--there are obstacles, steep and sometimes painful climbs, and constant grinding at those pedals. I prefer to simply enjoy the ride, but I challenged myself on this one in a different way.
What would happen if I chose a segment or two to put 100% of myself into it? What would it feel like? What would be sustainable? Strategically, when and where would be the best places for this energy?
The first when/where happened quickly. Not too far from leaving the start line, we entered a narrow chute and a man attempted to pass me. I drove my feet into the pedals to go faster. My left wing got wide. Not to make contact, but to hold the lane. I heard his frustrated muttering behind me.
Doing things differently.
Day by day. A release from and a push to.
I crested the achy climb after offering many words of encouragement to others and shifting instruction to a few kids on the way up. Chunky gravel under my wheel. The sky opened up through the forest and I ran into someone who is not my fan (a misunderstanding a few years ago that became a thing). I was so jubilant by finally making it to the top that I completely forgot their beef and instead extended a genuine "glad to see you" tiding and continued on my way whooping and hollering down the trail with pure glee. Etiquette may call for one thing, but I am not interested in the rules that are not of my own making.
I descended into the last leg, densely forested with no one around except a voice of a young friend who lives only in my memory. "Push harder, Robyn." She said again and again sometimes with expletives in her pirate way. And I did. Harder and harder, pounding on the pedals, flinging sweat into every turn.
I crossed the finish line.
Fist raised. Grin from ear to ear.
This is me trying.
I ascended the podium. This is not bragging but fact. A detail from someone who tried and won. I'd be happy if I had tried and lost. But I didn't. I am not embarrassed by this.
I just wanted you to know.