He was haunting me. I couldn’t stop thinking about him – his look, demeanor, and mission in life. Honestly, I wanted to forget I saw him.

But I couldn’t.

When I first saw Leo Rodgers, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed I’d complained about my eight-month relationship with Carl (the name I’ve given my frozen shoulder). Embarrassed that I’d stopped riding my bike, lifting weights, or doing anything that would make Carl angrier or more obtrusive. I was embarrassed to have ever even talked about my temporary pain and problem because Leo Rodgers is a cyclist. A cyclist with

one leg.

The problem wasn’t that I didn’t realize a frozen shoulder isn’t the worst thing to happen in the world. My friend’s son has COVID, another friend is jobless, and many are battling cancer. But in the back of my mind, I guess I didn’t expect fifty would look like this. I have to humbly ask for help getting dressed and doing my hair. Add to that “personal summers” and neck wrinkles and I guess, although I know it’s dumb and frivolous, I was feeling old, dependent, and fragile.

But Leo.

I kept thinking about Leo and by God’s grace, this week Carl started feeling (infinitesimally) less painful. So, one day I lifted weights and yesterday I decided to ride my bike. On my ride, I thought about Leo again.

Leo falls…no, crashes, a lot. In fact, Leo never rides without falling hard at least once. He’s not only unafraid of that,

He expects it.

What do I expect? Well, since I hate physical, emotional, and spiritual struggle, I expect to avoid and prevent pain. I expect, subconsciously, to ride my bicycle, be in relationships, and go through life with elation and ease. And when what I expect doesn’t come to fruition I haven’t spent a lot of time, as Leo puts it,

Learning to fall.

I’m not Leo and I never will be. Even after losing his leg driving a hundred miles an hour on his motorcycle thirteen years ago, Leo’s a thrill-seeker. He’s fearless. He rides fast and hard. I’m safe and cautious and always will be.

But I’m also tired.

Tired of making excuses, fearing pain, and dreading what sixty looks like if fifty is already this prohibitive and painful. Even though I’ll never live, fall, or ride like Leo, I’m deciding this.

I’ve decided that I have to quit expecting things to be easy and pain free. I’m asking the Lord to help me focus on what I can do and remember it might be hard, and I’m praying for help being grateful when and that I can get back up. I’m trying to remember that Carl and others like him, will inevitably be  part of what it means to ride and to live.

Leo said, “My purpose in life is to be some kind of inspiration.”

Mission accomplished, Leo. Mission accomplished.

(Thank you for permission to use your photos, Leo! Photo cred @fotobyjames)