Tuesday, March 29, 2005

THE GIFT

I was frustrated. Once again I had been more or less dropped during a mountain bike ride. Somehow, despite my technical ineptness I had managed to almost catch up to a fast group of skilled riders on a very difficult mountain bike trail, one which I rarely even attempt due to its level of technical difficulty and its high propensity for separating me from both my bike and my confidence. I was barely hanging on and just able to keep a glimpse of the riders ahead of me, but still out there. I had gone on this ride at my husband’s urging, as he had just purchased a new camera and wanted us to practice using it by photographing some of the riders this particular evening. As I rounded an exceptionally rocky twisty corner, I felt my rear tire slip, and suddenly I was stopped dead in my tracks by an unseen root right in the apex of the turn. While straightening my handlebars, my attention was drawn to a subtle glimmer on the trail. At first I thought someone had perhaps dropped a large piece of jewelry – I suppose it didn’t occur to me that most people don’t actually wear large pieces of jewelry when they ride. On closer inspection I realized it was a rock, but not just any old rock.

Now, it’s worth mentioning at this point that I have been going through a very rough time with my riding for the past several months, feeling quite discouraged and disappointed with what I perceived as a lack of improvement, despite riding nearly every day. Through all this, though, one person has been by my side, encouraging, supporting, and riding back with me to keep me company as well as to try and help me with technical sections where I was having difficulty. That person is my husband and best friend in the entire world. Although I thought he had ridden on ahead to stay up with the faster folks, it turns out that he actually had ridden ahead in order to take pictures of me riding, being very careful to photograph me in sections of trail where I felt comfortable and confident and looked like I knew what I was doing. He told me later he wanted me to see that my riding skills were better than I realized, and he wanted me to have those pictures as proof.

As I reached down to pick up this rock which had so inexplicably attracted my attention, I noticed something quite extraordinary about it. With a smile making its way across my face, upon taking the rock into my palm I realized that it was in the unmistakable shape of a perfect heart.

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