Thursday, June 5, 2008

Riding past fear

It is the things we fear and face that shape us. I know, other things shape us too, but those monsters in our path that we manage to get by, shaking, maybe bleeding, leave scars that we can wear proudly, scars we can decorate with tattoos of pride.

I am once again riding in the Pan Mass Challenge this year. And for some reason, this year I am fighting it tooth and nail. 

For those of you who don't know, the PMC is a two-day 160 mile fund-raising ride that supports the Dana Farber Cancer Center, a world-class treatment and research center here in Boston. And for those of you who don't know, I had cancer when I was in my 20s. I'm fine now, but it is one of those things - one of those monsters - that leaves scars.

This ride. The first time I did this ride it changed who I see myself to be in some fundamental ways. I became a cancer fighter, not just someone who had a tumor, an illness. I became someone who could change the world by riding a bike. I became someone who could ride a bike for a long time, in spite of being a short round woman. 

Each time I've ridden it's been different. Last year, for example, I had back pain so had to cut the ride short, but it was still just as powerful. I still cried and laughed and rode and rode and rode. I still triumphed. I'm sure I'll write at some point about the ride itself, but for now, I need to write about this.

And now this year. The ride is in two months and I am no where near ready; the preparation is a monster in my path, whispering that I can't do it, can't ride that far or raise that much money. I only just started fund raising and I am not riding enough to be sure that the long August miles will be fun. I need to get past the monster of my own fear.

So the only thing to do is to ride. To wave to the monster in the road as I pedal by and to trust that my legs are strong enough, my heart is brave enough to carry me past whatever pain and worry is haunting me. To remember that this time, right now, is just as much a part calling myself a cancer fighter as the two days of the ride, as knowing I've raised the money that helps others.

I'm sure you have your monsters in the road too. If I can ride past mine I'm betting you can dance past yours.

(c) Laura S. Packer

p.s. If you want to sponsor me click here

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