Saturday, July 12, 2014

Still NED

We’ve all heard it before: the only constant in life is change. Our human nature, though, instinctively craves homeostasis. As such, we quickly adapt to changes so that, if only for a little while, we have restored balance. Over time, so much can change that we lose perspective of where we started, and it can be good to zoom out and look at the big picture to see how far we’ve come and thus appreciate things properly.

A few weeks ago I received a text message from my mom. Rather than the content of the message, it was my reaction to it—or lack thereof—that has caused me to slow down and take a look at the bigger picture.

Name any significant historical event that happened during a person’s lifetime and they can tell you were they were and what they were doing at the time. When the towers fell, when Bin Laden was captured, and so on.

Just over 4 years ago, I had just such an experience. My final summer in college was a trial period of life as a bike racer. In those few months, I drove across the country more than half a dozen times, trying to hit all the big races and accumulate some results in the hopes of securing a contract after graduation.

On this particular trip, I was in Chicago for the Tour of Elk Grove. Just a year later I would finish on the podium in the Pro field, but in 2010 I was racing the Cat 1-2s. I was staying in the basement of a fellow racer’s relatives when I got the call from my dad. At the conclusion of my last trip, I learned that the cause of his persistent cough was a tumor in his lung. While I was in Chicago, they confirmed that the tumor was cancerous, despite my dad’s lifetime avoidance of cigarettes.

So, yeah, I certainly remember where I was when my snowglobe life got a good shaking.

4 years later—4 years in which it seemed things were changing so quickly that there was never a chance to catch our breath, 4 years with some tremendous highs and devastating lows.

I was in my apartment in Lucca, Italy enjoying my summer break. 4 years ago I was trying to scrape by as an amateur, and now I’m living in Lucca, my last race having been one of the biggest that the sport has to offer, racing for one of the most successful teams at the highest level of the sport. I heard my phone buzz on my nightstand and walked in to check the message.

From my mom: “Still NED.”

I put the phone down and went back to my keyboard to resume practicing. Then it hit me. That message, “Still No Evidence of Disease,” has become routine, and I’ve started to take it for granted. My mom was telling me that my dad, who has twice defeated stage IV lung cancer—a disease with a devastating life expectancy beyond 5 years—was still cancer free.

For all the change that has happened over the recent years, I would have never guessed that such a message could become routine. But it has! And for that, I’m overcome with thankfulness. Since then, I’ve taken time each day to thank God for these incredible blessings in my life. Change will someday rear its head once more, but I don’t need to spend my time worrying about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. In the meantime, I’ll spend a little more time appreciating each mundane “Still NED” message.