Tour des Chutes board member and brain tumor survivor, Dillon Caldwell, shared this heartfelt anniversary remembrance with us and we felt the need to pass it on.
A very important anniversary of mine passed last week in quiet. It’s hard to imagine how quickly and how far my life has rebounded in the past two years. In fact, it feels like a distant dream at this point. So usually I just keep my eyes ahead and more or less ignore my past. But how are we to change this broken world, when we so easily forget those things that change our own lives for the better? I can’t just ignore mine.
So to answer this question, I sat down with my good friend Gary Bonacker yesterday to discuss our changing lives and where certain events have left us today. We joked about how his outstanding successes with medical marijuana treatment have turned him into a real-life Benjamin Button. We made plans to ski together next week — something neither of us would have expected to be possible when we met, the both of us in far less fortunate health at the time. And we discussed my racing plans for the upcoming season.
I’m far too hard on myself. I’ve been lamenting that I’m not able to ride my bike enough with all this beautiful snow for about two months now, with no end to this healthy Cascade winter in sight. Sure, I’m doing what I can to build fitness by flogging myself half to death on the turbo trainer and getting out to play in the snow with some pretty great people between sweat-fests. But when I look at my past off season, riding more miles than I could handle in Southern France, I can’t help but think that my competition is doing far more than I am now to prepare for the next race. As a result, I keep telling myself that my season is going to get off to a slow start in comparison with my last.
Well, I’m not sure anyone knows the truth in all that until race season does finally hit later next month. But I’m feeling more optimistic about my training, and my life in general, after a bit of reflection with one of the sagest men who ever did ride this great big sea of sage we call home. Because for all that loose pessimism, I’m reminded of the fires I rode through to get where I am now. I can compare snapshots of training all I want, but what really counts is the resolve that underlies my motivations to toe that next start line in spite of everything that life throws my way.
As Gary and I agreed, no degree of training or racing can much compare to the challenges of a chronic, life altering disease like the one that brought the two of us together. In light of something like that, everything else is just life. That’s the stuff, good or bad, that we fight so hard to hold on to. And regardless of how fast I can pedal a bicycle, I’m so grateful to be where I am today.
Sure, life might leave us hanging every now and then. But shoot. Worst case scenario? Wake up the next morning and try again, over and over until your time is finally up. Just don’t forget all the days that came before. There’s far more good in them, even in the worst of the bunch, than we like to admit. After all, we are nothing more than that which we were on all those yesterdays. Every one of them leaves its mark. Keeping that simple truth in mind helps me to make each tomorrow brighter than the last — even when tomorrow’s very existence is called into question. Because that final tomorrow will come for each and every one of us. So here’s to making the rest of them count.
You can read Dillon’s full story in the Bend Bulletin HERE.