The Dying Time.
Editorial by Tom Demerly.
I could not believe it but
somehow I knew. I was standing in The Little Café
here in Dearborn, getting coffee on Saturday morning.
CNN was on their TV and that re-entry did not look right.
"NASA has lost communication
with the shuttle Columbia. No other statements have
been issued. Mission Control has been silent since 9:02
Other people were watching
the video and no one said anything. I suspect everybody
thought the same thing. It didn't look right. There
are pieces coming off of it. It looks like it is breaking
apart. It exploded and was disintegrating.
And with it comes another broken heart.
At Ironman Canada in 1999 I finished the race
and seconds later they announced the man who finished behind
me was a shuttle pilot (I checked, no members of the Columbia
crew from what I could determine). I was so impressed I sought
him out to shake his hand, so I could tell people later I shook
the hand of a shuttle pilot. Several years later Colin McMahon,
Michael R. Rabe and I drove from the Walden School of Cycling
to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to tour the facility
and walk inside a real space shuttle. Colin (Calvin) and I attended
a lecture on how the heat resistant tiles worked. A man heated
them with a blowtorch then immediately picked the tile up to
demonstrate its heat dissipating capabilities.
The economy, September 11, anthrax, the sniper,
the West Bank, the war with Iraq and now this. I've recently
had a terrible break-up with a girlfriend and tried to get back
on my feet dating someone new and quickly learned that doesn't
work either. Individually, my heart is broken. Collectively,
the entire country's is too. We're all thinking, "What
I'll tell you what next.
This is called The Dying Time. It is the time
in the ebb and flow of life when old things that are tired and
unyielding are stripped away. That is a painful process. When
you start exercising the pounds start to fall away and are replaced
by muscle. Awkwardness and pain are replaced by poise and grace
and endurance. And The Dying Time fades.
"A newborn is soft and tender,
An old person, hard and stiff.
Plants and animals, in life, are supple and succulent;
In death, withered and dry.
So softness and tenderness are attributes of life,
And hardness and stiffness, attributes of death.
Just as a sapless tree will split and decay
So an inflexible force will meet defeat;
The hard and mighty lie beneath the ground
While the tender and weak dance on the breeze above."
Those are great words of wisdom spoken thousands
of years ago by the famous philosopher and sage Lao Tzu. He
also describes that the sun does not shine on both sides of
the mountain at once. So for every period that was good, there
are periods that are bad. To appreciate warmth you must have
felt cold. This is one of those periods. In the past five weeks
no less than three people I know have died- two by suicide.
I have broken up with two girlfriends, one a long term one and
one, relatively new, but nonetheless significant since she helped
me heal from the loss of the first one (that never works really).
And then there is all this crap about Iraq, the economy, troops
leaving loved ones to go somewhere they can't say and then those
What a downer.
But there is the promise of The Growing Time.
Yesterday I did a set of bench presses where I did 15,12,10
and 8 reps effortlessly. Two weeks ago that would have been
impossible. I've ridden my bike over 150 miles on an indoor
trainer this past week, all with Power Cranks, so my legs are
becoming like iron now. I ran a week ago and it felt good. I
felt the sun on the side of my face yesterday and I could feel
its solar warmth as the earth begins its axial transition toward
And with it comes renewed hope. The hope that
the race season will be filled with adventure and good performances.
That we will feel better as we get more fit and feel more powerful.
The sun is staying out longer in the evenings now. It is 5:00
p.m. here right now and it is not getting dark yet. Calvin,
Michael R. Rabe, Nate and Dave Koesel rode 40 miles today to
Northville and back. They returned covered in mud speckles and
raving about their ride. I sold bikes, measured people, lifted
weights and rode the indoor trainer. So we begin the process
The Growing Time is here again. And with it comes
the promise of better days and new things.
One day in the next 60 we will reach that time
when it is too hot out to run in tights. That is a huge day.
One day I will be training on the run course I call "Zone
of Power" and I will feel the setting sun on my face. There
will be long rides, good food afterward, hot, long runs, muscle
cramps, tough swim workouts and the promise of new friends and
new places. I have never been to Madison, Wisconsin, but I am
going- along with 101 other triathletes from Michigan. And the
journey to prepare for that holds great promise. You see, we
do hold the quality of our destiny in our hands. Things don't
"happen for a reason". They happen because of our
influence (or lack of it). So with that in mind we enter a new
springtime, a new season. Right now.
This time next year I will be writing about the
things getting ready to happen now. I wonder what they will
be. Great triumphs and sad failures. The dark side and the light
side of the mountain. Both. They rely on one another.
So I am pleased to be leaving The Dying Time behind.
One of my ex girlfriends wrote me recently filled with hope
and kindness: She is getting married soon to her new boyfriend.
She sounded so happy I couldn't help but be happy for her. So
what was the dying time for her and I three years ago is now
a new springtime for her.
I can't wait for this new season. It can only
bring the promise of things new and things renewed. And that
is worth suffering through The Dying Time for.
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