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Like most of my longer training rides on the bike, the goals are simple. Ride until eventually my body learns to the art of minimizing my muscles demands for oxygen to metabolize an increase in blood lactate and increase overall aerobic thresholds. Usually my journey begins with pain in the legs but usually ends up taxing everything from between one ear to the next and back. Tonight's ride should be no exception.
As turmoil has been a steady companion of late I guess I should have known better. After 2 hours plus of burning the quads with several climbs, I suddenly noticed one of my favorite things in life. The sky was turning all shades of red and blue and the South Bay was preparing for a spectacular show as the sun fell behind the sea. I glided to the end of Hermosa Beach pier and just sat there in a now cold sweat, watching the sky and the water try to outdo each other in a duel of master painters. It was chilly and I was wearing nothing more than swim-bike shots, lycra form fitting vest and arm warmers. But I stared at the show like a kid at a first circus waiting for the next thing to happen.
Then the inevitable began to happen….I began to think…Shit too late now as this ball had already started to roll. I stared deep into and beyond the swirls of color mixing the waters currents and then upwards beyond the colors of the sky until the colors were all but gone. Suddenly I could see a star shining over the horizon and it did not appear to be a planet. My astrology is lacking so I can't tell which star it was, but it caused me to do what most of us have done one time or another; feel really, really small..
I began to think about time and space and my place in it. And in the end how do my problems even matter? How could they? But to me they freeze me in my tracks…
A "first down" in football is ten yards and it takes light to travel that far in about 30 nano-seconds and light can go 300 million yards (or 30 million first downs) in ONE second. Sorry Reggie Bush, but you ain't got nothing on that!
The same little beam of misguided light would take 1 1/4seconds to get to the moon and to the sun (which is BTW 109 times the size of the Earth) and would take little Mr light beam 8 minutes to arrive.. Hang with me, there is a point.
Jupiter is further out and would take 40 light-minutes to feel the love and Pluto is a whopping 5 ˝ hours away for the train to reach its station and far too many first downs for me to figure out.
Now for the amazing part.. That twinkling and insignificant wobble in the sky is no less than 4 ˝ years away for that wayward beam of light to arrive. Beyond that, my head just really begins to hurt. It must be from slamming it into that brick wall they built in the back of the Universe back when the UFO's also build the Pyramids of Ghiza. It's enough to imagine our little hub of insignificance in all of this expanse too large to wrap my mind fully around.
But if I were to try…..
The nearest cluster of Galaxy (the Virgo Cluster~only remembered because I am one) is
50 million light years away and to totally blow the top of your head off, the visible edge of the universe is 13,700,000,000 (yes, billion) light years away. Or as Cal Sagan would have said "beillionn."
So back to our little flickering and dim light in an otherwise endless forest full of Sequoia Christmas trees we have to ask ourselves the same question. Do we count? Do we matter at all in the end?
From warring nations, to even the little kid crying because Santa's gift this year wasn't what was wished for and everything else in between, it's just a pimple on a pimples ass in the end of a flea no less. That is if fleas actually could get a pimple of course. One day it will be dead silent here and really dark and cold. Somewhere zillions of first downs away and even more zillions of years something will be crawling out of the mud to choke on it's first breath. Or two overzealous leaf bearing zealots will hook it up again,…
Whatever happens, will they eventually stand at the end of a pier one year and look out to the sky and begin to feel just as small and even insignificant?
As I turned my bike around to ride several, but not too many first downs back to my home, a father and son ( I presumed he was his son) approached me for a picture. I said sure and suggested we use the faded light of the ocean for the background. The father said no, it was his son who wanted the picture with me. I just stood there and didn't know what to say. I was sure they thought I was someone else. It's happened plenty of times before. So I kept on saying nothing and smiled for the photo with my arm around the kid.
The smile on the teen aged kid was enough to answer my question with out a word being spoken.
Fuck yes, I mattered.. Or at least the guy they thought I was did...
If this was not significant in any big pictures and about my place in it, then what does that say about me?