Everything Happens

In this Ripple Effect, I share a traumatic event. So, if you wish to skip this week, I understand.


At 8 p.m. last night, I pedaled into Battery Park and completed the last 201 miles of my 571-mile, five-day trip on New York State’s Empire State Trail.

The first mile began before dawn in Albany with confidence and self-doubt.

Mile 74 was mouth-watering as I savored a freshly picked apple near Kingston, NY.

The last miles were terrifying as I navigated a crisscrossing flow of e-bikes, scooters, walkers, runners, tourists, and cannabis clouds in the darkness of the bike path that hugs the Hudson River.

I was relieved and joyous when I saw my oldest and wife waiting for me. I was also damn tired – we can’t forget that feeling. I had just completed something I wanted to do since my first bike race on Erie Canal.

As we drove to the George Washington Bridge and back to New Jersey, I shared more about the trip and discovered what had happened during my trip.

When we came to the bridge’s upper level, cars were slowing (which isn’t unusual), and one had its hazards on as it inched forward.

The slowdown was initially frustrating. I just wanted to get home, shower, and get something to eat, and then I saw a beagle running down the far right lane. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

People left their cars to stop traffic on the busiest bridge in the world while others honked and became irritated, unaware of what was happening. Then, we heard the dog howl.

I knew that sound. I made the same sound over twenty years ago after being hit.

We pulled over. As I walked down to investigate, a truck driver carried the little fella toward us. Another driver was ready to take him but didn’t know where to go, so we took him. It was the fastest we drove that 10-mile stretch to Paramus, NJ, but he passed away in my arms as we pulled into the emergency hospital. It was so sad.

About thirty minutes later, we walked into our house with heaviness, and our three dogs enthusiastically greeted us at the door. It was a seismic emotional shift.

I’ve read multiple perspectives about how many emotions we can feel, and whatever the number, I may have experienced them all yesterday.

So, why do I share this emotional rollercoaster with you?

Today, I celebrate my birthday, and yesterday was a reminder of how complex life is.

In life, everything happens – the good, the bad, the highs, the lows, the pleasurable, and the unwanted. It’s a spiritual gift that can feel like a constant struggle. We feel joy, and then the next moment can hurt so badly. We over-index our pursuit of happiness as we deny, ignore, and push away the pain that is part of our humanity.

It’s not a race. It’s not a game. Nobody wins.  It’s simply a collection of ephemeral moments with an invitation to befriend reality.

Things happen. Everything happens.  Bad things happen to good people.  Good things happen to bad people.  And we give all of it meaning with the labels we use.

The hardest part of yesterday wasn’t my two hundred miles; it was holding that puppy, knowing that the only thing I could do was to give it love when I didn’t think it was enough.

This is life. 

It’s doubt and courage.

It’s pro-choice and pro-life.

It’s fear and bravery.

It’s faith and knowing.

It’s believe and wonder.

It’s joy and pain.

It’s when to quit and when to never give up.

It’s learning and unlearning.

It’s anger and love.

It’s blame and forgiveness.

It’s worry and confidence.

It’s boundaries and holding perspectives loosely.

It’s black, white and shades of grey.

It’s all of this and more.

If I’m confident of one thing, it’s this:  The foundation of a happy life is analog. 

It’s contemplative.

It’s nature.

It’s community.

It’s silence.

It’s ikigai.

It’s Kintsugi.

It’s whole foods.

It’s family.

It’s friends.

It’s rest.

It’s movement.

We talk so much about our work-life balance.

What about our analog-digital balance?

Here’s the thing: Tech is wonderful, and it makes life faster and more reactive. It makes it harder to be thoughtful about our labels and actions.

Thoughtfulness is analog.  It’s not something you get by going through the drive-through, swiping, or a one-click purchase.

It takes mindfulness. 

It’s how we meet everything that happens, our feelings, and all the complexities of life with grace.

Until next week, have fun storming the castle.


p.s., To celebrate my birthday and welcome Autumn, I’m hosting a 50% off of the cozy swag (sweatshirts, long-sleeve T-shirts, and winter hats) at Pause Breathe Reflect through tomorrow. Click here to get cozy.