This lovely, consistent phrase, commonly used by cyclists, avoids having the biker being passed from being startled. It can very unnerving to suddenly see something close to you in your periphery vision as you cycle along, focused on the road ahead.
On the afternoon of the first day of the ride, we heard the familiar, ‘On your left’ call from a male voice. We continued cycling and before we had made too many more pedal strokes, a tall, conservative looking cyclist passed us, carefully watching traffic and obeying the rules of the road.
It was only when he got in front of us, when we could see him from behind, that we noticed his socks and the message they bore. While his riding shorts were classic black, and his jersey non-flashy, or memorable, his little, six-inch socks blew us away. They were neon in colour; green to be exact. Printed on the back, in what we believe was his own hand writing were the words:
Do Epic Shit
Pardon my language. I usually choose to use my other English words when writing this blog. But a direct quote is a direct quote. And quite frankly, I can’t think of any other phrase that would reflect either what he meant or what our reaction was.
Our response was immediate joy.
Rhonda and I kept cycling and didn’t talk about those socks until later. But when we did, we both felt exactly the same. We just loved the idea. And we especially loved that the message came from someone, who although we do not know them, from all other appearances, seemed to be a fairly cautious, play-by-the rules kind of guy. And perhaps it was poignant that we should see this message during the Ride to Conquer Cancer, both of us recognizing how lucky we are to be able to participate.
I’ve been thinking about this phrase since then. I’ve been trying to figure out how to measure what is epic. And to know how much epic is needed in my life.
This year, I’ve offered to spend my Fridays with little Benjamin, our grandson. Ben is now 20 months old. I LOVE my Friday’s with Ben. When Kaitlyn returned to school after her maternity leave in January, I asked her and Matt if I could have Ben for one day each week. It wasn’t that they needed my help. They have wonderful care for little Ben. It was that I wanted to develop a good relationship with my grandson.
Building relationships with children, happen when we create consistent, predictable, regular times to be together. Having a safe space and doing things together helps too. This makes sense to me. When children know they can count on us to show up for them regularly, when we say we will, they learn to trust us. I’m pretty sure this happens with every age of person. It doesn’t feel epic, but it does feel right.
I’ve spent the vast majority of my life being consistent, reliable and predictable. I have never regretted it, but I have often watched others not operating quite the same way and I’ve wondered if I was missing out on something. Something epic.
What I am concluding is that there is kind of a Yin and Yang to this; a bit of a push and pull.
When I first decided to do a long bike race I was training alone. One day, about a year-and-a-half ago, I texted my friend Rhonda to see if she would join me on a once per week training ride. Rhonda and I had never biked together and although she did like to bike, had never gone more than about 30km at once. I was training for my first Gran Fondo. Rhonda quickly agreed and so began our Tuesday long rides. Those consistent, predictable, regular rides, that at first kept us both wide awake the preceding Monday nights worrying whether we could manage the distances we had planned, turned into longer and longer rides. More importantly they turned into times together we both came to cherish.
And late last summer, and then again this summer, they turned into some epic moments when we completed two Gran Fondos, an incredible ride from Canmore to Jasper, and the Ride to Conquer Cancer.
I think it is only when we create a relationship, built on a foundation of consistency, reliability and predictability that we are able to trust one another enough to create our epic moments.
And so it was that this last Friday, I arrived at Ben’s house at 7:00am as planned. He and I read for a bit and played with his cars. We made our traditional scrambled eggs and he helped by adding the grated cheese at the end. His nap was unremarkable. We hiked in the park and found a slide to climb up and slide down. He napped in the afternoon and then we played cars.
Really, it was another perfect day. We have a wonderful relationship together. I cherish it. I doubt there is a bystander in this world who would rank what Ben and I do as epic. Perhaps conquering a slide on your own is epic when you are little. Perhaps mastering sitting on little chair all by yourself is epic. Perhaps just the gift of being together, consistently, predictably and regularly, is epic.
When Rhonda and I went cycling this past Tuesday, our first time out in nearly a month, we weren’t in a race. We didn’t have fancy jerseys, there were no cheering fans and we did not come home with a medal. We rode through the foothills, leaves turning their fall colours, snow capped mountains to the west. Epic.
And holding little Ben in my arms while we added the cheese to the scrambled eggs and then on my lap while we read his book about his family? Epic.
My inquiry for you this week is ‘How am I creating an epic life?’
Elizabeth is a certified, professional Life and Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She most often uses polite language! She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership and personal coaching for individuals and teams. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to notice the epic in your life.