The Plot To Steal Joy: Day 20
That which causes the most pain is also that which etches the deepest memories. Though it be bitter at the moment we were experiencing it and we vow never to revisit that memory, sometimes we rehash that pain because we are better off for it after the storm has blown and past.
Let me explain.
I cycled across America in the summer of 2014. I honestly thought it would be a an epic adventure:
I’d be seeing the fourth largest country in the world from a sojourning cyclist’s perspective,
I’d get to burn tons of calories to eat almost anything I want and not put on weight or feel guilty about it,
I’d get to meet new folks and learn something interesting every day…
How bad could it be, right?
Wrong. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it wrecked more pain than I could ever prepare for:
I didn’t think it would snow in summer and I suffered the stiffest cold I never thought I could survive.
I didn’t think it would rain hailstones in summer and they hit me like a ton of bricks.
I thought my long hours of training would prepare my body for the physical assault but my body took a bad hit.
Yet when all is said and done, after I returned from the trip and I spent a year somewhat depressed, often crying and unable to fit into my previous “normal” life and routine, I look back at the time when it was just me and my bike (together with my buddy Derek and his bike) covering 4,000 miles from the west coast of America to the east coast - and I have to say, it was nothing short of a blast.
The painful memories gone, the residual memories now resurfaced, I forgot what it was like to be in a lot of pain as I did for almost every single day of the 39-day ride, suffering from saddle bone pain and exhausted legs; I forgot what it was like to ride through the thick of snow and hail in Montana, relentless wind in Kansas and torrential rain in Illinois - I want to replay that experience all over again.
Why? Because I’m stronger now than I was before. And I believe I can handle the same onslaught with better manners than I did the first time (I wasn’t a pretty sight - see it here).
Likewise in my marriage, the past few months saw my husband and I overwhelmed by mounting challenges wherever we turned, so much so we’re drained of faith and hope for a better future. The daily fallouts and unmet expectations between us drove such a deep wound in each of our hearts we came to a point of utter helplessness. We’d scream and shout, cry and threaten, or we’d fume and walk away.
Thankfully, one virtue of our marriage remains untainted - commitment. Regardless of our differences, expectations and failings, we decided ten years ago when we stood before each other at the wedding altar that we would stay united through thick and thin, through good times and bad times. I can’t speak on his behalf, but for me, I honestly didn’t know the weight of those words as I declared them at the marriage altar. Ten years into the marriage, those words would show up to claim their worth. And show up in full force they did.
While the pain we both have subjected each other to have been real and trying, we’re thankful that we both kept our end of our marriage vows, i.e. to stay committed come hell or high water. While pain is temporary, commitment is everlasting. Our commitment to each other and our union outlasts the pain we caused each other. Because our commitment outlasts the pain, we’re now able to look back at the pain and realize in grateful amazement that we’ve each developed enlarged capacity for increased responsibilities, grace, patience, love and kindness; values we would not have build had it not been for the fiery journey we’ve travelled, tumbled, burned, and came out smelling of smoke but unscathed.
The score today?