Dear Friends –
Hello from Moxie 4.0, which I started today. So far, so blah. And blah is far better than horrific, so let’s give good thanks for that.
The plan is to complete a fifth round, and then we’ll scan and take a look to see how Moxie is doing with hitting her tiny targets in my lung. For now, my main job is to simply receive all this miraculous medicine with a combination of fortitude and napping. It’s an often complicated combo, but ‘tis the chapter I now inhabit.
I suppose the drama seems to happen during a chemo round, but truthfully, life in between my rounds is far more noteworthy. I have a strong bias toward yes during those days, for all the obvious reasons.
And so it was that last Saturday, when a lovely friend suggested a bike ride from his house in San Francisco, and through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge, and then into Sausalito. With the promise of an E-bike, my bias toward yes kicked into high gear.
Here’s the thing about San Francisco in the spring. You just never know what kind of day you’ll get. Picture perfect or a winter day in Iceland? Most likely, you’ll get a dash of both.
So layered up, we set out.
Here’s the part of my little story that comes with a gentle PSA for non-Bay Area friends who have visions of a Saturday biking over the Golden Gate Bridge with all kinds of postcard romance – that brick red, that bay, those views. And it’s all that.
But it’s also this: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD YOU’VE NEVER EXPERIENCED SO MUCH WIND. Gusts from below, from the side, from the sky. There I was peddling along, praying that one of the dozen of fellow bike riding hot doggers wouldn’t swerve too close, causing me to somehow fly away like a muppet wearing a bike helmet into the deep waters for my grand demise.
And yet, all that wind was thrilling. I kept wondering – was I the only with stage 4 cancer on aggressive chemo cycling across one of our nation’s most remarkable landmarks? We’ll never know.
After the most delicious Sausalito lunch at Poggio (get the butternut squash soup!), we saddled up for the ride back to the city.
Hey do we all know that San Francisco has all kinds of steep hills? Maybe the steepest hills on the planet? It’s true! But who’s going to be troubled by that when you’re on an E-bike, with a little box that lets you power up the extra battery help. What could possibly go wrong?
Well it turns out all that Moxie in me has greatly depleted those energy reserves that healthy people get to access when hills get quite steep, even with a battery pack. And when the proverbial wall hits, there is no negotiating. My physical limits are now blunt, which is a hard truth of this chapter.
So I stopped midway on a hill, and encouraged my friend to cruise ahead. I’d make it back eventually, with some smidge of pride intact. But he turned around, curious about what could possibly be the problem. “Chemo and cancer is the problem,” I said.
That’s when he gently pointed out the little button near my left thumb. “Why aren’t you using the throttle? The bike will practically ride itself with the throttle. You haven’t been using the throttle?”
Oh right. That button you kindly pointed out when we started out, which I promptly forgot about.
I’d like to point out that throttle buttons are just lovely. So there I was, throttling up the hills of SF, enjoying the joy of a bike with just the right amount of giddy up, to go up, up, and more up.
Ever since last weekend I’ve been mulling on all the throttles in our own lives. Those gorgeous boosts of goodness sitting there under our thumbs, waiting to be accessed. Especially on a week like this one, as we’re living through this hard maze of brutality, and accountability, and maybe a meaningful step toward important repairs.
It’s awful how hard life can be. But avoidance and denial are paths that lead to crushing stagnation and more pain. Instead, grace and patience and perseverance and justice – and truth – guide us to new and better chapters. We just have to remember to surrender, and tap into the magic throttle all around us.
Throttle buttons come in all kinds of forms. Brilliant lawyers, advocates, scientists, poets, composers, moms, college roommates, surgeons, hot dog cyclists, voters, teenagers, bridge architects, friends who pray.
In a word: us.
May we all throttle up this week, generously, for each other.