This past weekend we had a celebratory group ride in honor of our Gavia Warrior Tom Niccum who is moving out of our area toward the western part of the US. The Gavia scoundrels found out that my birthday was going to be a couple of days later and given that our group tends to enjoy eating they decided to have a birthday cake for me as well. On two occasions I tried to say a few words, first as it related to Tom and how much his friendship and kindness has meant to me over the past three years and second when I attempted to thank everyone for the cake; I was not able to complete either of those attempts without tears but would like to do so here as much as possible.
In her book “Being Black – Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace”, Angel Kyodo Williams simplifies the Buddhist descriptions of the Three Jewels by referring to them as “three treasures” – teachers, teachings and community.
The three do not stand alone, they are more like three circles that interconnect with each supporting the other and all supporting us. For me, and I know for many other Gavia Warriors, Tom has been all three – a teacher who shared worthwhile teachings while helping support and grow our community. He is someone who quietly helped me regain my confidence simply by being himself and has been a true leader in every sense of the word. While we are going to miss his physical presence he has left us with great memories and rides to look forward to when we visit him or he.
As many of you know I had surgery and subsequent chemotherapy to treat testicular cancer this year. The chemo treatment ended in May, subsequent scans revealed that most of the cancer has been eradicated, there are a couple of lymph nodes remaining however they are still shrinking (given that one of them started at 8.5 cm and is now approximately 2 cm and shrinking things are trending in the right direction).
Teachers (Michael Lyach who at 80 years old is a cancer survivor, has a pacemaker, and is still racing), teachings that show us acceptance of what is in the present moment is the only path to sanity (wishing that something were different than it is currently is not a viable strategy for anything but driving ourselves crazy), and community (our Gavia community is growing stronger by the day and each person who passes through our doors or joins one of our group rides is responsible for that). I would like to assure you that every kind word, thought or feeling you generate makes a difference in the world; it is clear to me that each of you played a part in my being here, thank you for saving my life.
Each and every person matters. You have everything inside you that you will ever need to be your best possible self; you need to discover the path to allow that to happen for you. The path is not always direct and it is not supposed to be easy but if you stick with it and put your trust in the three treasures, in whatever form they present themselves, you will surprise yourself with the amount of joy and happiness that fills your life and that of those around you.