To Olivia, on the Occasion of Her 15th Birthday

Dear Olivia,

You are so beloved that it’s honestly kind of hard to start in on a letter to show you that, to help you feel that. I guess many of the most meaningful kinds of love are like that.

It’s crazy to think that you’re still on the front end of so many experiences, so many loves, on this: your 15th Birthday. But I’m genuinely excited for you in that. Fathers often think and talk in terms of anxiety or protectionism or awkwardness. And while I reserve the right to feel more insecure in the future, I honestly look forward to the lifetime of love you have in front of you. Future friendships… finding a college and/or career that you love… getting swept off your feet, falling in love and getting married… bearing children… So! Much! Love! yet to come for you!

Still, I hope you will remember that it started at home, with your family. From the day you were born until now. You are deeply loved, Olivia. By me, your father. But also by your mother and brothers and extended family. By many other friends from school and church and the neighborhood. And, of course, by our Heavenly Father. “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4). This love just gushes out of me as I think about you, Olivia.

I love you. I’m so glad you’re a part of my life. All of us, everyone who knows you: we’re so happy that you were born a decade-and-a-half ago. It’s a delight that we get to celebrate your birthday every September 21st.

One of my favorite memories from the past year is the two weeks we spent together on our way out to Colorado and in our first days at the YMCA of the Rockies, before Mom and the Boys caught up with us. I loved those moments when we chose to embrace our “Spirit of Adventure” — like in Iowa, when we veered off the highway at the last minute to visit the SPAM Museum. Or how about Wyoming?!? We decided to drive 45 minutes out of our way to get diner food at Lockman’s Lunchbox and take a look at Guernsey’s sandstone vestiges of the Oregon Trail, with those Australian Shepherds bounding to serve as our tour guides! Those were good times, weren’t they?!?

But in addition to the adventurous stuff, I also enjoyed the average stuff with you: picking playlists in the car… eating breakfast with plastic spoons and plastic bowls in our lodge room… catching up on what happened at work at the end of the day… eating dinner with all kinds of different people along the way… You’re a lovely person, Olivia.

Those two weeks showcased a lot of things about you that I really admire.

For one thing, you’re highly responsible. This summer, you held down a 20 hour-per-week job as the youngest member on the staff of the YMCA of the Rockies! I knew about your highly-developed sense of responsibility before this summer, of course. As a matter of fact, I’ve often wondered if you may be one of the most responsible people I know (definitely more responsible than most college students I know!)! You’re faithful with your school work (whether we ask about it or not). You’ve proven yourself trustworthy when it comes to household chores or babysitting the neighbor kids. You’re a very respectable, responsible young woman — and I’m proud of you for that.

For another thing, you’re remarkably patient and kind. This summer, I observed the ways that you managed to pass the hours on some looooooong stretches of road, like out in South Dakota. You patiently cycled between music, books, and napping. You dealt with the delays and difficulties admirably. And even though we all have our moments of weakness from time to time, it just seems to me that you’re exceptional in the ways you demonstrate patience and kindness. You’ve been a steady and consistent friend to Maddy, and Brooklyn, and Phoebe, and Lauren, and Grace, and Grace, and Grace (so much grace for so many Graces!). Elliot and Cor often put you to the test, and yet so often you find a way to put up with your brothers’ antics with grace and dignity. This sense of patience and kindness will serve you well in many different ways, as you go through life. I hope you’ll continue to cultivate these character qualities.

In addition to your responsibility, patience, and kindness, I have to say that you’re also a really fun person. Our “Spirit of Adventure” moments on the way out West were a brilliant example of your spunk and spontaneity. You’ve got a lovely sense of humor and a quick laugh. You’re willing to try new things. You notice beauty in the world around you, and you’re not afraid to stop and soak it in. You demonstrate a delightful duality in your ability to act like a kid and to act like an adult. Road trips are just better, when you’re along for the ride. Life is just better, when you’re along for the ride.

You’ve got so much going for you, Olivia. And I really think your responsibility, patience, kindness, spontaneity, spunk — and many other admirable qualities — will serve you well for many years to come.

But I just want to pause and make sure you remember that your value does not come from anything you do. Your value comes from who you are.

God has been showing me this again and again and again this year. The most fundamental thing about me is that I am loved. And in the same way, Olivia, the most fundamental thing about you is that you are are loved. And you are loved simply because you are a daughter — a daughter of me, and a daughter of God. Ephesians 1:5 says, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”

A chapter later, in Ephesians 2:8-10, it says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” This means that all the wonderful things that you’ve done, or that you are doing, or that you will do are not the ways you stay in God’s good graces. They’re just an outflow of who you are, as a child of God.

I hope you can catch and hold onto that distinction. American adolescence works hard against that. But I’m going to do my best to keep reminding you of how loved you really are, Olivia. Happy Birthday, my dear daughter. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Dad

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Senior Night

Elliot was disappointed at the end of his soccer game, last night. His team lost: 4-0. He got to play for 17 of the game’s 80 minutes. Which, in fairness, was the most minutes he’s played in any varsity game. Still, it was hard to understand why he wouldn’t get even more minutes on Senior Night. Especially when he played as well as he did with the minutes he got.

I wanted to tell him that I shared some of his confusion and frustration. At the same time, I wanted to tell him that I was proud of him and the way he’s persevered throughout his time on the soccer team. I wanted to tell him that he was deeply loved, regardless of his playing time or his performance on the pitch. I wanted him to look up and look around, to see all the other things he has going for him.

And that’s where Elliot’s cheering section came in clutch.

They hooted and hollered for him as he walked off the field, toward our spot on the track. They gave him hugs and high-fives and fist-bumps. They showed him their homemade posters and shared their favorite moments from the game. They were living proof of the love and community and support that surrounded Elliot, regardless of the night’s details.

We were thrilled by all the friends and family who turned out for the game. Elliot’s cheering section was 25 strong — in a setting where total fan attendance is typically in the range of 100-200. They were fun and positive and loud. They made an otherwise-forgettable night memorable.

When our family all got back home, after 10:00 PM, we talked through some of the disappointment and frustration that Elliot experienced over the course of the evening. But then I started to show Elliot some of the pictures from the game. Like the snapshot of the moment when Meg stole Seth’s hat…

Like the “Elliot Asp is My Hero” sign that Daniel and Halle lovingly made and carried at the game…

And we just scrolled through all of the smiling faces who were there for him.

They were living pictures of joy and encouragement.

And Elliot’s smile grew bigger and broader as we kept scrolling through the images — and the realization of what he’s accomplished through his four years of high school.

If you were there last night: THANK YOU for the time, energy, and expense you invested to make the night special for Elliot. It worked.

There’s still one more home soccer game left: this upcoming Tuesday, September 24th, at 7:00 PM. We’re going to have a tailgate party in the parking lot of Stanton Middle School, starting at 6:00 PM — and we’d love to have friends and family join us, again.

There are no guarantees how Tuesday’s game will turn out. It’s against another good team. The top team from our league, in fact. And without the Senior Night dynamics, it’s uncertain if or how much Elliot might play.

Whatever happens, though, we love our Elliot — and we love our community in Kent.

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Over Half of My Life

3.2 couple

I got married when I was 21 years, 3 months, and 4 days old.

Eric and Marci - Embracing

As of today, I have been married for 21 years, 3 months, and 20 days.

That means I’ve been married for over half of my life! Earlier this year, I recognized that September would represent a milestone — but I never wrote it down in my calendar or anything like that. So the actual half-way day passed without fanfare a couple of weeks ago.

Still, that somehow seems appropriate. Marriage has a lot more to do with routine and consistency than special milestones. Marci and I love each other and support each other in ways that are subtle and sustainable. And I just look forward to the percentage of my life in which I’ve been married continue to grow and grow and grow.

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Last Home Stand

RHS Soccer Class of 2020 2x1

Elliot is down to his last two home soccer games: one this Thursday, September 19th, and another the following Tuesday, September 24th.

He’s one of nine seniors on Kent’s Theodore Roosevelt High School Rough Riders Soccer Team. They’ve had a lot of success together, through the years, in various leagues and on various levels. This year’s varsity team currently has a record of 6-3 (by far its best record in the four years since they joined the Suburban League). And they’re still hoping to make a deep run in this year’s state tournament.

Our family has been a regular part of the cheering section for quite awhile. With their last two home games, however, we thought it would be a fun to make an extra-big deal of things. So we want to invite all of our friends and family to come out and get rowdy with us for these last two home games.

Thursday, September 19th, starting at 7:00 PM, Elliot and his team will be playing against North Canton’s Hoover High School. Elliot is playing more of a supporting role on his team, averaging 5-10 minutes per game. But this game happens to be “Senior Night.” So there will be a special introduction. Marci and I will get to walk across the field with Elliot before the start of the game. And Elliot will get to start with the rest of his senior teammates! He’s really looking forward to this opportunity.

Tuesday, September 24th, starting at 6:00 PM, our family is going to host a Tailgate Party. We’re going to bring a grill to the school parking lot and everything. We’re hoping a bunch of our friends will come out to enjoy some refreshments before the game. At 7:00 PM, we’ll go into the stadium to watch the team’s last home game. It’s against league-leading Revere High School, from the northern suburbs of Akron. So it should be a really intense game (though we’re not sure how much Elliot will get to play). And then after the game, we’ll resume tailgating until Elliot is able to come out of the stadium and join us.

So: Please let us know if you would be interested and available to join us, so we can look out for you! We understand that it takes time and money to celebrate these milestones with us. So, we certainly understand if it doesn’t work out for you to be there. But we at least want to try pulling something special together in order to make much of our Elliot.

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Hiram? I Hardly Know Him!

I took a long walk along the Buckeye Trail this morning. 11.1 miles. All the way from the Mantua Bog State Nature Preserve to the campus of Hiram College and back.

The route passed through some of the most beautiful sections of the Buckeye Trail I’ve experienced yet: a tunnel of shady trees hanging over an old, converted railway… a really pretty (though unassuming) waterfall… a winding segment of single-track through old forest… some boggy meadows… gorgeous fields of soy and corn around century farmhouses… and pretty little Hiram, too.

I’ve wondered about Hiram for quite awhile, ever since hearing about its connection to James Garfield and the Gilded Age of Ohio history. I pictured it as a pretty little college town, maybe kind of like Ashland, Ohio, or (the fictional) Westish, Wisconsin. But it was actually even littler than I imagined! It seems like three-quarters of the town is the College. When I stopped a student to ask about lunch options in town, he told me there was the Campus Dining Hall (guests must be escorted by a student), Gionino’s Pizzeria, and a Maggie’s Donut Shop (which happened to be closed).

It really was a charming campus — but it’s quite a bit different from Kent!

Following some prayer-walking prompts from EveryCampus.com, I observed that Hiram was a really diverse campus — significantly more so than Kent, to my surprise. The people around town seemed pretty friendly, but I didn’t see any obvious signs of spiritual life. I mean, there was clearly some historical connection to the Church, with several buildings suggesting that they were former places of worship. There was also at least one good-sized church building just across the street from campus (Hiram Christian Church). Still, the college website seems to indicate only one Christian student group registered on campus (The Net). There weren’t any posters or flyers, as far as I could see. And the one freshman I talked to (as I helped her to schlep a case of water across campus) said that she thinks there may be some Christians around Hiram, but she didn’t know any of them personally.

There weren’t any obvious obstacles to ministry at Hiram College, though my research has been pretty superficial up to this point. The small-town dynamics could be a real boon to vibrant campus ministry (especially with such a large percentage of students living on campus). But I could see how there might also be challenges with everyone living in such a “fishbowl.” I expect human hearts are hard in Hiram, much as they are in Kent and in any other college town. But there weren’t any clear show-stoppers that made it seem like campus ministry at Hiram College would be unrealistic.

After walking through Hiram for awhile, I wandered back along the Buckeye Trail towards the place where I had parked my car — and I ended up finding a grove of Aspen trees, not far from Hiram. I’ve been thinking about Aspens as an interesting word picture for exploring possibilities for new inroads to collegiate ministry throughout Northeast Ohio. So, the Aspen grove felt like a smile and a nod from God, motivating me to pray further for the idea of sending out runners from Kent to test out environmental conditions in places like Hiram to see what God might grow. I don’t feel possessive or pressured to make something happen. But I’m curious to see what God might eventually do at Hiram College.

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The Aspen Project

Untitled

The Collegiate Church Network recently invited H2O Kent to pitch an idea for a missional initiative that would creatively engage our sphere of influence with the Gospel. We tried long and hard to come up with funny, clever, or cutting-edge ideas for ministry that would capitalize on this opportunity. In the end, however, we ended up going with something much more organic. More “Us,” I think.

And since landing on an idea, my excitement has grown — to the point that I thought it would be cool to share our idea here, as well.


When our church planting team was first sent out in 2008, one of the things that led us to choose northeast Ohio was its density of college students. Of course, we loved the idea of reaching out to the 30,000 students at Kent State University. But we also recognized that there were over 150,000 students at 44 institutes of higher learning within roughly a one-hour drive from Kent State University — and we wondered if God might want to use H2O Kent as a launching point for further missional initiatives at some point.

Now we wonder if the time has come to start launching. And we’re borrowing imagery from the natural world — the Aspen tree — as we start to consider a strategy for engaging all the different sorts of campuses in our area: large state universities, branch campuses, smaller private colleges, and specialty schools.

Did you know that Aspens are the most widely distributed tree in North America? They grow quickly, and then they propagate themselves primarily through their root system. From time to time, Aspens send out runners from their root system to different parts of the forest where they will basically scope out the environment for the possibility of a new tree in that new part of the forest. If the conditions are right, a new plant will start to grow. With enough sunlight, water, and nutrients in the soil, a whole new tree can sprout up and extend the Aspen grove further. If conditions are less favorable, the Aspen will come up more like a bush or shrub. And if conditions ultimately prove to be unsuitable, the resulting plant will die, even as other trees from other root runners lead to thriving in different parts of the forest.

Now that our church has rooted itself in Kent (and at the University of Akron), we want to send out “runners” to other parts of the Northeast Ohio “forest” to see what might spring up. We honestly don’t know much about what it might look like or feel like to build a ministry presence at a smaller private school, like Hiram College, or at a regional branch campus, like Kent State University’s Geauga Campus. Still, we want to trust God and see what He might do, as we step out in faith.

We want to empower college students to develop a sense of ownership and initiative for reaching out to students at various academic institutions throughout the area. So our project plan calls for three paid internships, which would allow us to launch missional initiatives at three different campuses per semester, for each of the next three years. This would amount to $40,500, but it is also scalable to involve more (or fewer) internships at more (or fewer) campuses over a longer (or shorter) period of time, subject to availability of funding ($2250 per internship). Each student-intern would be paired with a staff guide from our team at H2O Kent to travel to the new campus a couple of times per week to pray, observe, survey the population, share the gospel, start Bible study groups, and walk through whatever doors God may open along the way. The drive time could be used for discipleship conversations between the student-intern and the staff guide.

With time, we expect to see some missional initiatives fail, some to result in the establishment of new Life Groups that would function like “off-campus” Life Groups of H2O Kent, and some to result in new venues and independent church plants from H2O Kent.

We’re eager to see the Gospel propagated throughout Northeast Ohio, and we invite you to partner with us in prayer and financial support for this catalytic initiative we’re calling the Aspen Project.

Video version, originally submitted to the Collegiate Church Network

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You Will Go to Sleep, or I Will Put You to Sleep

I got real sick this week. I mean, like, faucet conditions with mucous pouring from my nose, wrapped up in blankets on my bed, shivering from fever, moaning softly if I had to move even a fraction of an inch.

It was nasty. And total. Like some terrifying viral version of Ben Stiller’s totalitarian nurse character in Happy Gilmore, telling me that the time had come for me to rest.

I didn’t like the sickness. In fact, I’m still coughing up phlegm, even after a couple days of recovery. At the same time, I appreciate the significance of the sickness and its attendant reminder to rest.

God has taught me this lesson before. But I (apparently) need continued reminders. I will either take some rest — or the rest will take me.

This year’s Welcome Week was certainly an endurance event, as it is every year. But I actually made it through that week relatively healthy. I knew I needed to take some downtime to recover — and I did a little bit of that in the first part of the week — but I ramped up too quickly in the second half of the week. I stayed out until 2AM to do our Thirsty Thursday outreach. Then I went to a high school football game on Friday night, a high school soccer game on Saturday afternoon, and a professional soccer game on Saturday night — not returning home until nearly 1AM that night. Sunday was another busy day of ministry… And by the time I got to Monday, I was already starting to crash.

I wish my body’s response to extended and intense periods of stress was not so automatic. I can usually push through to the end of whatever stressful period I’ve marked out in my mind before the cracks start to show. But I inevitably crack when I start to let up. The proverbial inch becomes the proverbial mile. It’s annoying. Still, there’s also something to be said for a healthy dependence on God’s strength, instead of my own strength.

God Himself gave us the model for regular rhythms of rest, from the beginning of Creation. Anytime we start imagining ourselves to be saviors of the world, we run into problems. Jesus is the Savior of the world; not me. He can cause the rocks to cry out, as witnesses to his glory, if we’re not able to raise our voices. He explicitly tells us that His power is made perfect in our weakness.

So I’m choosing to rejoice in the insight that my sickness has provided this week. I’m thankful for God’s power to run the world without me. And, in a weird way, I look forward to getting better at this as I get older my physical limitations increase. I just have to remember to get some rest, from time to time.

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To Cor, on the Occasion of His 12th Birthday

Dear Cor,

I’m thinking about this last year, the twelfth year of your life. And it’s strange how many of my strongest and strangest memories cluster around our family time in the American Southwest this summer. It makes me smile to remember the way that we brushed off the dusk to dive into the chilly waters of the Blue Hole of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. I think of our time with Linda at Arizona’s Slide Rock State Park. I have such warm memories (Get it?!? Warm memories?!?) of hiking through 100-degree heat to watch the sun set from Delicate Arch in Utah.

In so many of these memories, I recognize the ways that you’re showing increasing strength, courage, and poise.

There’s a readiness to embrace adventure that’s growing within you. You don’t complain as much, when you’re hot or tired. You find ways to persevere — and even find joy — in the face of adversity. And you’re just physically bigger, faster, and stronger.

I’m proud of you, Cor. You’re progressing beautifully through the closing stages of boyhood, into adolescence and manhood. I look forward to seeing what the years ahead will hold for you.

I know that growing up can seem like it takes “forever” sometimes. It’s exciting to think about getting your own smartphone. It’s appealing to think about getting taller and more muscular for soccer and basketball. You’re getting ready to join adult society and make your mark on the world — and that’s a good thing.

But I don’t want us to miss the moments that you get to experience in the “here” and “now.” As a twelve-year-old.

I love you deeply, Cor. I’m so happy to call you my son.

Let’s just take a moment to celebrate what you’ve already accomplished and what you are accomplishing. You’ve completed a year of Middle School. You’re establishing yourself as one of the strongest legs on your soccer team. You play the trombone with strength and skill. And it’s just a delight to be with you. Your emotional intelligence — your willingness to share your own emotions and enter into the emotional world of others — continues to be one of the most amazing, powerful things about you.

As you head into this last year before officially entering your teenage years, I pray that you’ll keep growing in gentleness, even as your strength increases. I pray that you’ll develop greater perseverance, even as the challenges of life become more intense. I’m eager to see you grow and change, but I don’t want you to lose sight of your most essential personal qualities. The biblical wisdom of Galatians 6:1-10 has been on my mind a lot recently, and it seems like some good exhortation for you, too.

Galatians 6:4 says, “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.” Middle school can be brutal. I think it can be especially difficult to manage the social dynamics — where the comparison game can feel inevitable. Cor, you are a wonderful person, made in the image of God. Don’t compare yourself to Elliot, or Olivia, or Ryan, or Carter, or Diego, or whomever else might feel foremost in your mind at any given moment. As long as you stay true to yourself and God’s work in you, I feel confident that you’re going to be just fine.

Galatians 6:9 says, “Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” This was a verse that your mother and I started praying for our family when we got married: years before you were born. But it seems totally applicable to you, at this phase in your life, as well.

This bit about perseverance reminds me of that time towards the end of the summer, when you took that swimming test so you could swim out to that silly island at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park. You were totally strong enough and skilled enough. You had everything you needed to pass that test and be on your way. But you needed to practice perseverance and fight through the frustrations of what was being asked of you. You needed to channel your emotions towards the goal of completing the test and moving on to greater adventures.

Life is kind of like that. We need to keep doing what is good. We can’t give up. I know you have what it takes to get to the other side. And I’m excited that we get to do it together.

I love you, Cor. Happy Birthday!

Dad

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The Art of Fielding

I recently finished reading Chad Harbach’s book, The Art of Fielding. It was recommended to me at the beginning of the summer, by my friend Stephanie, but I didn’t get around to actually reading it until the end of the summer. Even with the delay, though, it still felt like a nice summer read.

The story follows a fictional baseball team from fictional college, on the shores of Lake Michigan in Wisconsin. Its primary plot centers around the team’s quest for a championship. But there are also individual complexities involving some of the team’s star players. Mike Schwartz, the team’s catcher, is desperately fighting against knee problems, addiction to painkillers, lack of direction for his life following college, and an unrelenting drive for team success. His protege, Henry Skrimshander, is a once-in-a-generation talent at shortstop. He grows from a scrawny nobody from nowhere to a dominant force in college baseball. He ties the record for most games without an error, and then he suddenly loses his confidence and forgets how to throw the baseball. Owen Dunne, an African-American, gay genius, isn’t nearly as talented as a ball-player, but he serves an important role in the story.

There’s a lot of sports imagery — particularly baseball imagery — in this book. But it’s not a sports book. It’s far more geared towards the readers of The New Yorker than the readers of Sports Illustrated.

My favorite part of this book was its character development. Mike Schwartz… Henry Skrimshander… Owen Dunne… Guert Affenlight… Pella Affenlight… These characters were living and breathing. I understood and identified with their motivations. I wanted to find out what happened with each of their story-lines.

My least-favorite part of the book was its sex scenes. These were frequent enough and graphic enough that I don’t feel comfortable offering a whole-hearted recommendation of this book to others. The power dynamics in the relationship between Guert and Owen are also problematic — particularly in light of the last few years of the “Me Too” movement. There were just parts of the story where I felt “icky.” I understand that some of these helped to develop the plot. Still, I could have done with less of this aspect.

Overall, I’m still glad that I got the chance to read this book. Well-written fiction always stirs me in ways that make me think, “I really need to read books like this more often.”

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Still Cycling

bicycles

It’s been about a month since the deaths of Kristin Oswald and Mitch Lambert. Both were killed at the end of July, as the result of accidents that occurred while they were riding their bicycles. I’ve been saddened and sobered by their stories. And I’ve kind of wondered if they should be cautionary tales for me.

Kristin was a stranger who just happened to be participating in the same triathlon as me. Mitch and I had several mutual friends, through his employment at our local high school, though I didn’t know him personally. Even so, their deaths have stuck with me because of the circumstances. Both Kristin and Mitch died within a week of each other. And their deaths happened to coincide with a week that I chose to stay off my own bicycle in order to facilitate recovery from my own participation in the triathlon that killed Kristin.

There were moments that week where I wasn’t sure that I would ever want to get back on my bicycle again.

Why do I continue to insist on cycling as a mode of transportation, when clearly the United States is (and will likely always be) an automotive society? What sort of impact do my lifestyle choices really have on the world around me? Can I really call my cycling advocacy a “Revolution” if even my best friends don’t take my position seriously? Why should I continue to put up with the annoyed honks and angry words of strangers who become inexplicably irritated when I’m practicing safe, legal cycling procedures? Should I level up on security measures like helmets and rear-view mirrors and fluorescent outerwear? Why do I choose to get around on a bicycle when I have the means to use a car instead?

Ultimately, my reasons for cycling are the same as they’ve always been. I ride my bicycle for Health, for Wealth, for the Earth, and for Mirth. It’s good exercise. It offers significant cost-savings. It’s environmentally-conscious. And it’s just nice to find joy in connecting with my environment.

Even with the dangers that come along with riding my bicycle, I believe it may be just as dangerous — if not more dangerous — to give it up. Car accidents happen all the time! There are far more people who suffer from the effects of diabetes or heart disease than those who suffer injuries from cycling. The pollution that comes from a car is not insignificant. I feel like I just cannot live my life with a sense of fear about the “What if” implications of the germs I might contract from every doorknob I touch. I refuse to live in that box, walled off by those fears.

I don’t feel like it’s likely — but if something ever happens to me, I hope that my story will not become a cautionary tale. I hope instead that my life will be an affirmation of courage and vitality.

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