August 14, 2014
So after all of the excitement of getting the fresh refurb on my steed, I luckily got home right before sunset and took a needed test ride. At the halfway mark, I met a pretty interesting character by the name of Gerald. The man's hands were rough, his shoes worn down to its bare napa, and he had a stumbling gait. He greets me with a warm smile, "how many miles did you ride today?". I took a few steps over and we were instantly amidst in conversation. We talked about how Gerald had walked from San Francisco to this exact spot in the last eight days; we argued about politics, religion, wars, race, poverty, and everything about anything; we met this lady that was walking her four poodles, this teenager that crashed her bicycle, kids strolling with their parents; Gerald even taught me how to "scope for hot chicks", as he would have put it. But the best thing that Gerald taught me was to - stop! He admits that he's a 55-year-old with nothing to his name, spent the majority of his life as a soldier, he was a drug addict and still an alcoholic, and now he's just finding his way back home to Dallas. Sure, there were moments in our hour-long talk that I questioned his sincerity, totally diagnosed him as a schizoid, and my conscience telling me to get the hell out of there; but I listened...something that not many people do for Gerald. He told me about the horrors of war, he told me how he grew up abused and ignored, he told me how as a Christian he knew he would make it to heaven but he believed that God gives everyone their own struggles to make their trip to that next life even more worthwhile, he told me a lot about himself....and within that I learned a lot about myself.
If a man can walk the four corners of this continent with nothing more than the spare change in his pocket and still give you that unforgettable smile, then who are you to judge? Are you luckier than him? Are you inspired more? Have you lived more? Like I had said previously, Gerald taught me how to stop. Not to negate life, not to ignore responsibilities, explore self worth, or fulfill one's potentials, but to really appreciate your life and to be thankful for the people you meet in the short time that you have left. So before we parted ways, I took a snap shot of Gerald looking his best. I hope to meet my friend again, perhaps not in this life, but I am sure we will swap stories again in the next.
(After note, I took out some chump change to offer Gerald and told him to go get a beer and it was on me. He proudly declined and said that he doesn't take money from friends but only from the people who just don't give a shit! In my opinion, that pretty much says it all.)