Are You A Fighter?

I haven’t done any type of serious biking or walking for long distances in a very long time, two things I once did regularly. The reason for this simply has been out of fear to making things worse for me with my long-running health issues, specifically with the Fibromyalgia and sciatica I continue to endure. This all changed last week though when I decided I wanted to be a fighter and challenge that part of my ego by asking God for strength to do both when I was with my best friend Cedric on a vacation in Massachusetts.

For years, Cedric has been talking about taking me on this Cape Cod canal bike ride he does frequently during the warmer months. It’s a 14-mile roundtrip venture that heads from Buzzards Bay to Scusset beach and back. Prior to 2010, I could have done that at least twice in one day, as I used to bike more than 27 miles every day as part of a daily exercise routine, specifically when I lived on the island of Chincoteague, Virginia. I’m not sure why I decided to press through my fear of intense exercise on this trip versus any of the others I’ve taken to visit him, but if I was to guess that reason, I think it’s ultimately because I’m tired of waiting for my health to improve before I try something new. Regardless, after picking out a bike to rent on a Thursday early afternoon during my recent visit to him, I hopped on the tiny seat and headed off onto the canal next to his bike on what I would call a picture-perfect summer weather day. While some light winds were against me during our bike ride to the beach, I felt a strong determination to at least make it to the halfway point. I think knowing the bike company said they’d come get me if I couldn’t make it back was reassuring enough to at least strive for that halfway point. Honestly, reaching the beach and conquering that first seven miles felt pretty amazing to say the least. It was as if some part of my ego died that day once I did. Nevertheless, I took a brief rest with Cedric out on a long jetty surrounded by the lull of the ocean waves, after which I felt invigorated enough to attempt the return trip. Truly, at that point, seven miles was the most I had biked in over 13 years, so the adrenaline running through me was quite high and most definitely overshadowing any pain. In the end, I did make it back to the bike shop, completing the entire 14-mile arc! Ironically, just before I pulled into the shop I collided my bike into Cedric’s and fell to the ground, but thankfully I didn’t injure myself more than some minor scrapes. It was pretty laughable actually and a hilarious ending to a major achievement in my life.

As for the walking achievement, well that came a few days later in Gloucester, Massachusetts. We were staying at an oceanfront motel on a cliffside and I suggested one afternoon to go for a walk because it was another spectacular day. I haven’t walked much over a mile or two in a very long time as well, given the same reasons with my health. So, when I set out on the walk, I did my best to pay more attention to the serenity around me with the ocean and all those spectacularly huge homes rather than the pain. About a mile and a half into the walk, I began feeling uncomfortable in my left leg where much of my pain resides. Cedric said we could turn around and my ego definitely wanted to, but my spirit didn’t. In that moment, maybe even determined than the bike ride, I asked God for the strength to press on, as I really wanted to do an entire circular arc I had originally mapped out on my phone, rather than back tracking. While I took a lot more breaks after that, I actually ended up completing that arc, which was approximately 4.5 miles!

Overall, while I did experience the after effects of both intensive exercise-fueled outings on my body, it was well worth it, because it said one thing very clearly to my ego that I’m not giving up on myself! I’m truly a fighter and refuse to give up or give in to this pain, something both my parents did and something I continue to pray to never do.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson