What kind of life do you want to live? Its quality? Its energy? Its purpose?
Me? I've always hoped to live a life devoted, in part, to something beyond my own little world. I want to live for positive ideals and hopes, and not just spend my days itching every scratch and feeding every appetite that I have, and then imagine this is what existence is all about. I want to be challenged, instead, to live for something greater than myself alone, a noble cause, a worthy goal, some endeavor that reminds me I am not the center of the universe. I want to die having made a mark for the good in Creation, leaving this world better than when I arrived. I want to stop along the way on this journey of life too, and help someone who might be having trouble, someone the world might be tempted to leave behind or forget. I want to be kind to counteract the toxic atmosphere of mean-spiritedness that seems to be winning far too many hearts and minds in our country right now.
That's my life hope. Sometimes I get there. Sometimes I fall short. But always I keep trying, inspired by a God who made all of us for good things, for greater things, for lives of service, for days that wear us out but days that make a difference. That's why for the tenth year in a row, I will ride in the Pan Mass Challenge (PMC).
The PMC is a two day bicycling fundraiser for the Dana Farber Institute, Boston's world class cancer care and research facility. For the past thirty eight years, come the first weekend of August, folks ride and raise money. Ride in hope for a day when cancer will be but a memory. In almost four decades the PMC has raised an astounding $598 million dollars! This year the goal is $55 million. Every dollar donated goes directly to the cause. All these details absolutely will inspire and motivate me and the 5,000 cyclists and 3,000 volunteers who will work to get us all the way from the wilds of Sturbridge to the dunes of Provincetown next Saturday and Sunday.
We ride in memory of those now gone, angels who died from cancer. For me that's Dottie, Nora, Frannie, Kathy, and Sue, to name but a few. We ride for those fighting against cancer right now, like Uncle Bill, Brad, and Jean. God willing, if my legs and lungs and backside all hold up, come the 4th, I will cycle some 90 miles (about 80,000 pedal strokes) from Metrowest Boston to the Cape. It's amazing what miracles a plain old bike can create, just two wheels and hope.
So when you consider your one life, what is your "PMC ride", your cause, your dream for this world, your prayers in action? What are you doing to make your one God-given life amazing, transcendent, and other centered, a life for "thee" and not just "me"? A big life, in the best sense.
You may not be crazy or foolish enough to ride a bike for ten hours a day on a hot August weekend, but the PMC teaches that each of us, all of us, can make the life of this world gentler, kinder, and more loving. We can actually slow down from the frenetic pace of modern life and show mercy on the road to any and all who need a helping hand and someone to care. We can live a life of adventure, doing something we never imagined possible.
But first you have to figure out the kind of life that you really want to live. I think the best life, a good life, a life that says "thank you" to God for the gift of life, is one that day by day, mile by mile, and pedal stroke by pedal stroke makes the world brighter. That's why I ride the PMC. To join with neighbors and friends and strangers who for one glorious weekend actually unite in a singular cause. To give so others might live. With the way so much of our world seems to be going these days, that seems to me to be a worthy life mission.
So what will you do with your one life? That is the question we all must ask and answer in the limited time we have on earth. As George Bernard Shaw concludes, "Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
And you? How will you burn brightly and with passion in your one beautiful life? I'm doing my chosen work on a bike. Who knows? Maybe I'll see you on the road.
And always, keep pedaling. (To make a donation, visit pmc.org)