In so many ways, our world has changed tremendously in the past few years. Just these past few months have shown us monumental change in daily life on a scale that most people have never experienced before. Interestingly though, some of us (likely most of us at an event like the Tour des Chutes) have experienced much more fundamental changes in our individual lives over an even shorter timeframe. For us, COVID-19 is just a bonus. But it’s interesting to me to consider how our experience as cancer survivors or caregivers may help inform those of us who are struggling with the outfall of this pandemic right now, whether that be from loss of life, loss of purpose, or simply loss of income.
We all have a different lens from which to view the issues we collectively face today. Comparing struggles is never helpful. But in my experience, reframing our perspectives based on the unique experiences of others, understanding their journey in dealing with loss or setbacks, can be more helpful than anything else. That, and simply remembering that we’re not alone in this.
I’ve been riding my bike for most of my life, for many different reasons. Racing, employment, community, exploring, commuting, and personal health have been some of my biggest motivators. In many ways, cycling is my life. But cycling has changed for me in some substantial ways over the past few months. One of my greatest passions in life, bicycle racing, has disappeared for the indefinite future. Compared to other things that I have gone through in this life, and other things that I know many others around me face on a daily basis on top of COVID-19, this loss feels very inconsequential. But it has nonetheless affected my life in many ways, together all but bringing me to my knees in forced reevaluation of my life.
Like so many others, I have lost almost all of my income due to this surprise global event. I have also lost my ability to connect with the majority of my friends in a space that inspired so much joy, understanding, and gratitude over the course of my life. I have faced an unknown degree of chemical and physical changes in my body over these past few months as I have gone from elite athlete, at the top of my game, to relative couch potato. And the worst part is, I also know that I’m fortunate in that I’m still able to exercise more than the vast majority of even my own very active network of acquaintances. So what am I crying about?
Regardless of perspective, acute changes in our life can shock our individual realities. At any scale, they can surprise, upset, and create lasting shockwaves through the rest of our lives. But when that’s also happening to almost everyone else around us, somehow it feels a bit less difficult.
It’s a curious thing, how delicate the human race can actually be. Despite this, I have faith that one day, regardless of where the progression of this virus goes, or the development of treatment or a vaccine, our society will adjust to the point that we will find our grooves again and learn to move forward. There are so many examples of great people right here around us who have learned to deal with major health trauma and gone on to pursue noble, if terrifying and unsteady at first, pursuits that create new meaning in their own lives. And those gains, hard as they may be to realize, benefit the rest of the world in ways that we may have never even anticipated. When we remember these basic mechanisms, and consider that we’re all hurting right now and all doing our best to make this time better, somehow all the heartache and anxiety begins to fade, leaving us with only comfort and hope. That will be our way forward. And then we can get back to riding bikes together!