Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Courage and Tread Marks on Shoes

Yesterday afternoon I had scheduled time to finish up the fitting for my new bicycle. As with so many things in my life, I had a plan for how the trip to the bike shop would go. It was a good solid plan: ride to the shop, complete the fitting, ride a few miles on the path near my home, then go home and enjoy time with Amanda while Shaun was out on a date with his grandmother.

Sounded perfect, so I walked down to the garage, dressed in my cycling gear, and prepared my bike. On a road bike, it helps to check the air pressure before each ride. So, after adding air to the back tire, I moved to the front. POP! I popped the tube just by trying to attach the air hose.

No worries, I’ll just put the rack on my car and let Jake change out the tire. I’ve learned over time that a tire change that takes me 30 minutes only takes Jake about 2 minutes. It’s one of those things in life that is best left to the experts!

So, I got the bike rack on my car, loaded and secured the bike, and drove to Jake’s bike shop. Once I unloaded the bike, I started to push it and noticed the front wheel wouldn’t turn. I assumed it was because of the blown tire…

Nope! I forgot to take off the Velcro strap I use to secure the tire when on the rack. Jake smiled as he handed the piece of Velcro to me. He knows I’m a bit of a klutz!

Then, as he lifted my bike onto the rack to change the tire, one of my pedals fell off. I mean, it just plopped onto the floor. It is a special lightweight pedal that attaches to the bottom of my shoe as I ride. I bought them around 14 years ago, and even then they were expensive. I’m talking front row ticket to a concert of your favorite band expensive. I really didn’t want to replace it.

There are a lot of things I like about Jake, not least of which is his honesty. He could have sold me a new set of pedals out of that event. Instead, he rebuilt it, and put it back on the bike. As he did, he explained that this kind of thing never happens. It seems parts regularly fall off of bikes as they are lifted onto the rack, but the owner is never there. Thus, uncomfortable phone conversations usually follow, with customers responding “well it was fine when I left it there.”

With pedal repaired and tube replaced, Jake mounted my bike on the trainer to complete the fitting. He installed my new seat post and had me begin riding in place. As I rode, his assistant interrupted with a phone call.

I could tell as he spoke to the person on the other line that something incredible had happened. When he hung up the phone he explained the story to us. A customer had been on an expedition in Alaska with one of his bikes. He was on the water in a canoe, towing a raft with his gear behind him, gear which included his prized bicycle.

A wave hit, and, among other things, the man’s bicycle was washed overboard. He was forced to watch helplessly as his bicycle sank to the bottom. This all happened about three months ago.

Yesterday’s call was from a fellow in Alaska who found the bicycle washed up on the beach. He had found the City Cycles bike shop sticker on the seat post, and decided to call in hopes of tracking down the owner. Talk about honesty!

In short order, Jake was able to track down the number of his customer, and reached him in Alaska. “Chris” he said, “grab a pen and paper.” Giving him the contact information, he then told the story, letting Chris know his prized bicycle was safe.

As Jake finished the fitting for my bike, I quipped that I needed to hang out there more often. That little bike shop seems to be the center of a lot of interesting activity!

Ready for my ride, I headed out. It would be my first ride ever on a perfectly fitted bicycle! As I prepared to load my bike onto the rack, I put my cycling shoes on the trunk of the car.

Bike loaded, I drove to a park along the bike path, ready to ride and began searching for my shoes. Ummm…

Panicked, I checked the trunk lid. No sign of them. Hopping back in my car, I retraced the route taken from City Cycles to the park. That’s when I found them. One bright red shoe in the right lane, one in the left.

Oh crap. That meant at least one of them had been run over by a car. As with my pedals, my cycling shoes are expensive. In fact, they are my most expensive pair of shoes, and I definitely have a thing for nice shoes.

As I picked up the first shoe to examine it, nothing was wrong. Looked like I’d just taken it down from the shelf. As I picked up the second, I immediately saw a tire tread pattern running the length of the shoe. Looked like a truck for sure.

I couldn’t see any real damage though, so I went back to my car and drove back to the park.

As I slid my feet into each shoe, I was relieved to find that there was no damage. Even a truck couldn’t damage those puppies! Hallelujah!!!

I only rode about four and a half miles. Tempting fate with a longer ride seemed like an unwise move. Once back home, I shared my adventure with Amanda. We both laughed and laughed at how my plans had changed. At the way a simple trip to the bike shop could end so differently than expected.

Courage is a peculiar thing. Recovery has taught me to look at courage in a whole new light. I used to think of it only in terms of rescuing someone from a burning building, or disarming a bank robber. Maybe rescuing a drowning child.

While each of those would certainly be an act of courage, I have learned that everyday courage is much more important in my life. The courage to change a plan without freaking out is huge for me.

That popped tube on my bike might have been enough to send me over the top in the past. Such a drastic change of plans (drastic in my mind that is) would have sent me into fit. The same goes with the pedal, and the shoes, oh let me tell you!

Through working the steps of Narcotics Anonymous, a change has taken place in my life. It’s been a gradual change for sure, but one that is evident in the way I handle changes in my plans today. I do not know exactly when it came, but the panic that used to accompany change has been replaced by a calm acceptance and peace.

Fear of change in little things has been replaced by courage. Most notable is the courage I have today to live life, experiencing both good and bad, without drugs. In my active addiction, drugs would have been the answer to the blown tube, broken pedal, and the lost shoes. Today, I have this courage that I do not understand, but I know is there.

Oh, and there is more. Because of the blown tube, as I was driving to the bike shop, a friend of mine called me for my insights into the step he’s working. What? Someone called me for my insights?

The pedal, well, it could have fallen off as I drove, never to be found again. Or, even worse, it could have failed while I was riding to the bike shop. Something Jake said “would have ended badly.”

After retrieving my shoes, I was able to park in one of the few coveted shaded spots at the park. Bonus!

Then there was that phone call from Alaska. The one that reminded me that there are still good people in the world. People who don’t instantly say “finders keepers”.

I’m grateful for the everyday courage I’ve acquired through recovery. It allows me to be present and experience life. It allows me to be flexible when my plans need to change. It allows me to chuckle at tire tread marks on my shoes.

Have a remarkable day!

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