Saturday, October 18, 2014

For Once, It Is Not About Me...

Well... I am back. Almost reluctantly to tell you the truth. I am starting to find it difficult to complain about life when others have lost theirs. I guess it is more important however, to find a light in the darkness. That is to say, if I can find a reason to laugh, I should do so, as should you. After all, that is why began this blog in the first place: for a laugh. But before I go back to cracking jokes at your expense, I must first acknowledge the elephant in the room.

It is hard to bury a friend. It is harder when it comes so unexpectedly. If we had time to at least say good bye, it might not hurt as much. Often, however, we are not afforded that luxury. Instead, we are left to ponder life and its meaning. What does it mean to me that I am still here, and they are not? What makes me different? Well, nothing really. I mean, we are all human. Many times they are different circumstances, but we all live through the same stuff. We all have our "cross to bear" so to speak. Some persevere, yet others are crushed by the weight of it all.

In this moment I am reminded of a man that we all lost. A man who meant so much to all of us that, upon notice of his leaving us, we found ourselves broken, saddened, and bewildered.
On August 11, 2014 comedic icon Robin Williams lost his life to his personal struggle with depression.

A man, who outwardly appeared to be not only hilarious, but strong. A man who had fought his demons and won. Yet, in a single moment, found himself  powerless to stop his own sadness.
If we are honest with ourselves, we all feel like that from time to time...
Sad... Powerless.
But I say this...

But we are not merely a product of our thoughts. Meaning, our thoughts can often materialize as momentary lapses in strength. At each of these moments we find ourselves having to make a choice: succumb, or resist. To give up, or die trying.

I do not believe that Mr. Williams simply gave up, rather, he died trying. While his set of circumstances may have been different than our own, his struggles however, are of the familiar variety. His death, a result a of choice made in a momentary lapse in strength.

Like many others I took the loss of Mr. Williams very hard. For days, I could not even verbalize it. I could only cry. I felt so silly because of that, but
I had grown up as a kid watching his movies and television appearances and most recently, had taken my wife to see him perform live. Robin was such a charismatic personality that was truly awesome to see.

Like myself, like all of us, Robin was a cyclist. Often seen atop rare and beautiful machines, he simply enjoyed the freedom cycling offered. "It is the closest you can get to flying" he once said. 

As he would often travel to-and-fro, he would frequent his "local" bike shops. Always eager to hit the road, he would just as often buy a bike.

Sadly I had not even the time to properly grieve a person whom I'd never met, and it was again time to grieve the loss of someone I had.

Greg loved being on a bike. He was so good on a bike that we would often joke by asking each other, 
"What does he do? I mean, does he just ride bikes all day?!" 
Greg was a strong and confident rider. Always in the "big ring" and never backing down from a fight. On many nights you would find Greg pushing the pace on the evening "love ride" and smiling from ear to ear as he looked back in his mirror to see that he was riding away from the group.

Greg was such a nice person. Always smiling. Always encouraging.
Yet Greg also lost his life in a moment of weakness... A moment which has taken me more than a week to begin to iterate. It was truly sad to hear of his passing and it is still hard to even type this.

You see, I am no stranger to this type of loss. On this day, 18 years ago (October 18), my Father took his own life. I was only 14 years old. Growing up without my father was not without its challenges but it is fair to say that it made me the person I am today (in ways both good and bad). 

(1982- your bike blog hero is born)

I have lost friends and colleagues in times past and to this day, make no mistake, I am a man sorely vexed because of it.

In recent days I have had no choice but to consider the gravity of the decisions that people find themselves faced with. As I pondered these things I had to face my own demons. I mean, I have been there. Honestly. But therein lies the difference:

I can understand if one is sad. We all get sad sometimes. However, depression is a cruel thing, that cares nothing of the person it possess. To some, it is baffling to even consider that depression is a real thing. I put to you, this: What has me stunned is how one could physically prepare themselves to die. How, in a moment, a person cannot find one thing worth living for. If not for themselves, for the ones they love. 
I am convinced that it is never an easy choice to make, nor is it made at the drop of a hat. Rather, a culmination of the collective hurt one might feel that lies just under the surface. Until the moment strikes.
 It is, in that moment the depression itself that becomes tangible.
 Different from sadness, and far more dangerous, there is no stopping it. Until it is realized one would never know it even existed to begin with.

...there is no shame in it. 
...and (as much as I myself hate to admit it) 

In the days following Greg's passing a friend confided in me that he himself had some recent thoughts that he was not proud of. In that moment, I was terrified. Here I was, presented with a challenge that no one wants to face. I could only hope that my words would be helpful and as any good friend would do, I offered the generic "if you EVER need ANYTHING..."
 While I am very grateful that this friend spoke up, I wondered what I would have said to Greg, or Robin, or even my own Father and if it would have made a difference at all.

Truly... I believe that is the difference: Sadness is just that, being sad. We all get sad! Yet, the saddest people still seem to reach out. It is that little voice that says, "hey man... don't."
 Depression however, is unmistakeable. It will never assure you that there is more to life than this one moment. It cares not what a friend has to say, nor will it implore you to reach out. 

It does not care about you, your friends, or loved ones.

...but I do.

You have come to know me as the person who delivers the truth, right?
Well here's the deal: Depression is real. People suffer from it. Not just people on TV but people you care about. People that you would never imagine suffer in such a way as to have no other recourse in life but to end it without reaching out to someone one last time.

This means that one day you are riding bikes with Greg,

Or, Mr. Williams...

...regardless... the next day, he is gone.

Be it Mr. Williams or Greg Olen,
It is absolutely staggering to think that a man of this caliber is no longer among us, and that we will no longer "play bikes" together simply due to the fact that he had given in to the crushing weight that is life in a moment that cannot be undone. 
Be it my father...

(1983 - your hero turns 1!!)

... or your brother
We all face it, yet we deal with it differently. All I can say is two fold:

If you know anyone that you think could use some kind words or encouragement, DO NOT HESITATE to offer them.

If you are the person that needs those same words... NEVER, EVER....
hesitate to ask them of someone you love 
(even if it needs to be me, the author of a bicycle blog ;)

Again... feel sad if you must (as it is only natural) but Never, EVER feel alone. Remember, that this was once the face of depression.

  ...and never, EVER feel like you are powerless to stop your sadness. I know it hurts. Trust me. There are many people who wish they could, and would do ANYTHING to have you back.

We miss you and always will. You have touched our lives in one way or another, and you mean more to us than you will ever know. 

 -Your family...
-your friend...

Your Bicycle Blogger,

Jason Scott Rumfelt memory of Greg Olen 
...Robin Williams  and
Scott Allen Rumfelt (in a time before the internet existed)
...and the many others that have come before.

I truly do love all of you. Please be kind to one another. Please love each other, and PLEASE... I implore you... please find help if you need it. If that means you find it from me, then please do. If you need other help, get some here.
If that all fails... stalk the shit out of me until you find my phone number. I am not too busy to help you.