Oh yeah, and I also graduated. Just kidding. I don’t mean to make light of 4 years of intense growth, excitement, and change. However, I’m embarking on this journey on Thursday and want to prepare well. Epic pensive reflection will come in time.
With that being said, does anyone have any good road trip book, music, or podcast recommendations?
Years from now, I’ll probably only remember a feeling of excitement and anticipation leading up to MS150. That’s what’s expected, anyway. But this week has been much more complicated than that.
Monday afternoon two bombs exploded at the Boston Marathon - a day meant for celebration and victory suddenly shrouded in smoke, chaos, and confusion. On Tuesday, a 7.8 earthquake hit Iran resulting in at least 35 deaths and hundreds injured. And yesterday, an explosion at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas occurred, killing at least 5.
My heart is heavy.
I imagine the ride this weekend will be a contemplative one for me, which is vastly different from the whooping and hollering I envisioned just a few weeks ago. Crossing the finish line will be a strange mixture of emotions - irreplaceable in its own way, I guess.
We are the lucky ones, after all.. “all survivors of this tragedy, in a sense.” It’s hard to know what to do or think when you have, and have in abundance, things that many do not, and for no explainable reason. The obvious response is to be grateful, which I really, truly am. Grateful to capacity. But it feels like there is some other response that is missing.
Like in the movies, the storm today came at the perfect time. A sunny day would feel so out of place, in light of recent events. My hope is that the storm would symbolize much more than that though - restoration, the washing away of things past, a new beginning - like in the movies.
In Revelation 21:4 there is this promise that all things will be made new and that healing will be brought to the world. Revelation also points out in verse 8 that not everyone will be a part of that story though. Instead, judgement will come upon them.
Maybe one day, God will reveal Himself to me and I will be able to hope for & look forward to that day of true healing and restoration, being somehow filled with peace about the other end of that story. But until then, I guess the small storms and fragile hopes will have to suffice.
“Today is a sad day for the City of Boston, for the running community, and for all those who were here to enjoy the 117th running of the Boston Marathon. What was intended to be a day of joy and celebration quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance.”
Reading the stories, scrolling through the tweeted images, and coming across the same scores of unanswered questions has left me feeling cold and empty. How terrible and tragic. A day that was to be so glorious is now covered with a dark shadow of sorrow and fear.
In light of the MS150 fast approaching, which is nowhere near the intensity of a marathon, this tragedy feels so close. I feel that I’ve experienced, in a very small way, the perseverence and determination it takes to train for something like this, the euphoric feeling of progress, the pure joy in being showered with love and support, the heightened mixture of excitement and anticipation of the countdown.
And even then, I have yet to experience, but can only imagine, the rush of adrenaline at the start line, the warmth in waving to a loved one on the sideline, the joy of a community coming together in celebration.
I’ve thought daily, if not multiple times a day, about the very moment that ended so tragically for many today. Me, biking up Congress side by side with Char, crossing the finish line with the Capitol in front of us and loved ones on either side. I hear that it’s a moment you just can’t put into words, and it was this exact moment that many were robbed of today. The incredible, irreplaceable feeling of victory and accomplishment for doing the impossible.
Since Obama’s administration there have been four mass killings and many more bombings. How many times will we be asked to come together as a country due to these reckless acts of violence? How many more cities and days will be added to the list of tragic occurrences in history?
I’m not really sure what I feel right now. Saddened, confused, angry maybe. All I have are questions and pleas that tragedies like these won’t become the norm in our generation.
While on the topic of all things Iceland, allow me to introduce to you Ásgeir Trausti, Icelandic solo singer whose music is described as “melodic folk.”
This guy is so going places. His debut album Dyrd i daudathogn, released last September,reached platinum sales in less than three months and has since then won numerous awards. Also, like fellow Icelander Ólafur Arnalds, he made his way to Austin for SXSW this year and has an awesome Live on KEXP series.
It was really hard for me to pick a favorite from his album, as they’re seriously all so good. So I went with what people refer to as his “smash-hit” Leyndarmal.
Last night, my favorite band Sigur Rós came to Austin, and it was spectacular. They brought with them pure voices, phenomenal images, hair-raising, awe-inspiring music, lots of instruments, and the entire country of Iceland.
No really, so many times during the performance, I thought to myself, “Only in Iceland could someone have been inspired to create such beautiful music. Only in Iceland.”
The entire night felt so surreal, my words fail me. All I can describe are bits and pieces:
1. At one point during the performance, the stage lights shined so brightly at the crowd that I could see the bokehs of my squinted eyelashes in front of me.
2. Many times throughout the night, I found myself smiling without even realizing it. And then trying to smile again forgetting that I already was.
3. The night ended with an escalating post-rock energy that was so intense I half-expected Jónsi to smash his guitar on the ground. But of course he refrained, instead strumming a grand, final chord and placing his instrument on the ground, letting the sound reverberate and dissolve into nothingness as he exited the stage.
It was the perfect ending to a most magical night. So incredibly happy they found their way to the little city of Austin.
Sidenote: I can’t believe that, in less than two months, I will get the opportunity to visit Iceland myself. This concert nearly brought me to tears. I can only imagine what being surrounded by the beauty that inspired it will be like.
“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for.”
As many of you may know, my bike kind of got crushed by a truck yesterday. No, I wasn’t on it. And yes, I think I’m actually getting compensated.
Those two statements alone are two reminders that “it could’ve been worse.” What a crazy turn of events though, as I had just kicked my MS150 fundraising into high gear the night before, putting up pictures of me and my bike on Facebook, and was still feeding off the energy of getting over the 30-mile hump.
Looking back on it now though, I’ve come to realize this is in many ways a blessing in disguise. I test rode a new bike this morning and ended up ordering it, taking advantage of a very timely “40% all Fuji bikes” deal (interesting..). It wasn’t until I rode the bike around the parking lot, thumb shifting with ease, and amazed at how smooth everything felt, that I realized just how worn out my rusty old bike really was. I mean heck, it didn’t even pass ride inspection for crying out loud.
Which makes me think, maybe this was God’s way of helping me with the ride. My bike was heavier than most and barely past the threshold of long-distance-bike-ride material. The Fuji is not only lighter and smoother, but it also comes with a lifetime service guarantee and is brand spakin’ new. Through this situation, I’ve also 1) seen my family and friends pour out so much love and care on me - in addition to the already huge amounts of generosity and support they’ve shown through my fundraising efforts - and 2) come to fully realize just how awesome of a little biking community I have around me - comprised of people who are just as, if not more, devastated as I am about my bike, who venture out on a cold, windy night to help me take apart my bike, who head the search for a new one,and who offer their bikes up to keep me training.
So there it is, God delivers blessings disguised as trucks. Who knew.