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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Fierce Urgency of Now

"The fierce urgency of now". This phrase is frequently uttered by our soon-to-be president and resonates down to my core. Our president-elect uses it in reference to urgent national and global issues. For me, it's much more personal.

For example, yesterday, as I started my ride, I was ailing. Within the first quarter mile, I felt a searing pain in my shin. As a person experienced with spinal nerve pain, I knew that there was nothing wrong with my shin. Rather, something was wrong with my spine. It was a white-hot searing pain that brought tears to my eyes.

I kept pedaling and paid attention to my back posture. I realized that I was breaking one
of my physical therapist's cardinal rules - keep my spine as straight as possible. I'm supposed to imagine that I have a yardstick held against my spine. My job is to keep my entire spine constantly in contact with the stick regardless of what the rest of my body is doing. Instead, I was riding with a rounded lower back. Gingerly, I tried straightening my back, and the pain eased. I rounded it again and the pain seared. OK - I'd figured out how to control it. So, I kept riding. But, that searing spinal pain was like a warning shot. It reminded me that my passion of mountain biking in the woods with my dogs could go away in an instant.

I've lost other sports that I love - telemark skiing, running, backpacking, and the list goes on. Consequently, seeing our local ski area on the horizon is painful for me - I loved telemark skiing. I cannot lose mountain biking. I absolutely cannot.

In fact, I had another problem yesterday, and that was endometriosis pain - a dull unrelenting abdominal pain. I've had endometriosis since I was a teenager, and I've had seven abdominal surgeries to control it. The last round of surgeries gave me peace from the disease for a few years. But, it's back.

I woke up this morning, and nothing hurt. The fierce urgency of now.

I went out and I rode like it was my last day on the
bike for the rest of my life. I had a blast. I rode hard, and at times, all that I could hear was my own breathing and all I could see was the trail in front of me. I don't know for sure that I'll be able to bike like this next week or even tomorrow - indeed nobody knows what'll happen to them in the next minute. I'm angry and sad that my health has taken away some things that I love but it's also taught me about the 'fierce urgency of now'. That's quite a gift.

My dogs have always had that gift - to live life to the fullest right now. On this crackling clear morning, they joined me on the trails for a while. Crazy R is trotting on an icy trail in the left photo and happy K trotting on a dry trail in the right photo.

Today, I tried out Lion's Gulch again, and, unlike
a few days ago, I was able to pedal the whole way up the packed snowy road rather than trudging next to my mountain bike. I was reminded yet again of the special time when my friend and I saw a mountain lion cub on this 4wd road. We spotted him basking in the sun on the road, likely awaiting the return of his mom from hunting. Then, he loped up cliff to hunker down under two pine trees and watch us. He was small but he had the long elegant tail of a lion. A magical moment. I saw some neighbors hiking just above the gulch, and they expressed disbelief that I'd go into Lion's Gulch by myself. I may be strange - but I love being in the lion's territory.

At sunset, I wandered through the woods with my close friend and her chocolate lab, JB. My friend and I like to explore the forest at a similar pace, noting the details of nature and delighting in the ant
ics of our dogs. A fine end to a special day.


  1. Around here that brand of female pain (sorry, fellas) is known as being acutely aware of one's uterus.

    Feel better and be careful around the lions!

  2. Here's wishing you more pain-free days ahead. I have been struggling not to lose running, as one of my favorite activites. I have had to cut back a lot, cross train more, and have shelled out a lot of money towards physical therapy for my knee and my foot.. and I still have illusions of getting my mileage back up once my knee gets back under control. It's hard when no one around me understands why I would possibly want to keep trying.

  3. hi KB-I'm a new reader and had to comment after reading this post-love your attitude and determination! And love your dogs :) my husband and I live just down the road from you-he sees you in the woods sometimes as he rides down to work in Boulder (he recognized one of your dogs). Maybe we'll run into each other some day :) I'm really enjoying reading your blog and the pictures are wonderful! Squishes to yourcrew from mine! Sue


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