Exordio Somnii


It’s been a while, but all of you haven’t been far from my thoughts. I’d like to share some new developments on the continuing journey of hope.

I’ve been working on a year-end review. If you’re curious, check it out over at Bouncing Back. As part of that process, it’s become clear that Rich’s Ride spawned some stories that I want to share.

I don’t know yet whether it’ll take the form of a published book, an ebook, or perhaps a series of ebooks. But I’m already working on a manuscript, and we’ll see where God takes it.

However, I’d like to share some of the progress with you. So over the next few weeks I plan to post some excerpts from my work-in-progress. I hope you enjoy them, and I’d love to hear your reactions in the comments.

This first installment answers a frequently-asked question—where did this crazy idea begin? It’s called Exordio Somnii—The Beginning Of The Dream.

# # # # #

Excitement, fear, embarrassment—I wasn’t sure what I felt as I stared at the shiny new contraption. Sitting with three guys in the street in front of my house, I could only wonder why I consented to this craziness. Well-meaning therapists and friends tried for years after the injury to engage me in alternative forms of recreation. Adaptive skiing, wheelchair basketball, and quad rugby sparked no interest. I was too busy being angry and afraid to acknowledge the obvious need, and my secret internal desire, for some kind of physical outlet.

I’m still not sure what made handcycling different. I’d never actually seen anyone ride a handcycle more than a few yards. I’d never tried it myself aside from a miserably unsuccessful attempt on a much different type of cycle. Perhaps I saw some faint possibility of freedom and independence.  Maybe my encouragers simply wore me down until I got tired of saying “No.” In retrospect it seems like a precious instant, an answer to hundreds of prayers. I sincerely believe God used the handcycle to finally guide me out of darkness and despair. But that perception formed much farther downstream.

I didn’t recognize a watershed moment that spawned a life-altering passion. I didn’t understand that this seemingly nondescript day represented Exordio Somnii—The Beginning Of The Dream. What I knew was that I sat beside my brand new twenty-five-hundred dollar toy, that I had no clue what might happen, and that I was terrified.

Secretly I was eager to get going. Ten years after my injury I was finally sick of mostly sitting inside and the sham of pretending to exercise while really doing almost nothing. I’d grown tired of my own complaining and lack of effort. I desperately wanted to believe that I could accept the challenge of doing something physical again.

But well-rehearsed habits don’t just disappear. A decade of giving up before I even tried told me this wasn’t going to work out. When you say I CAN’T enough times, it becomes your default belief. I’d quit trying because I was convinced I couldn’t succeed because I wouldn’t try. It’s the sort of death spiral that’s difficult to reverse. So as badly as I wanted to learn to ride the strange looking machine, everything inside told me I’d fail. And not-trying provides a pretty good strategy for avoiding what feels like certain disappointment.

There’s a tick of the clock that changes everything. My brain told me I’d fail, maybe even get hurt. My heart told me I didn’t need to endure another disappointment. My spirit told me nothing could bring meaning to a damaged, broken life. Every inner voice screamed HOPELESS!

I’d like to report an act of heroic trust. I wish I could claim that I resolutely pushed through the resistance, rebuked those demonic internal pressures, and boldly stepped forward in faith. That would certainly create a more compelling scene in the made-for-TV movie.

Reality usually paints a less gallant picture. I already spent twenty-five-hundred dollars on a handcycle I wasn’t even sure I could ride. My buddies delivered the new bike and volunteered to help me get started. I effectively backed myself into a corner from which there was little opportunity to escape.

Maybe that’s what “stepping out in faith” looks like. Maybe it’s not always a valiant act of superhuman courage and absolute certainty. Maybe acting on faith means making big commitments and then wondering what in the world have I gotten myself into? Maybe it’s moving forward when every shred of logic says you’re crazy. Maybe those are the times when you commit beyond your own ability and then trust God. Maybe that’s really where we belong.

Sometimes tales of faith are portrayed as though a successful outcome was inevitable. You get the impression that if you pray hard enough and trust God enough you can’t fail, but that’s the revisionist view. When there’s no uncertainty, there’s no need for faith. If the outcome’s assured, why bother with trust? I wonder if more folks would trust God and step forward in faith if they knew it usually means swallowing fear and doubt and moving ahead anyway.

That’s precisely what I felt on that brisk afternoon. Certain only that I’d made a huge mistake, I moved forward because it was the only way out of the corner. I pasted a false sense of assurance on my face, rolled up to the bike, and tentatively lifted one lifeless leg over the frame. With a lot of help I managed to lower myself onto the seat and into an unfamiliar new position. I immediately felt uncomfortable and unstable, but it was too late to turn back. After so many years clinging to my misguided perception of false security, I’d moved out of my comfort zone. Looking back, God truly had me right where He wanted me.

My friends adjusted the footrests and helped me get positioned properly. I immediately concluded that all of this transferring and positioning was beyond my limited capabilities. My inner cynic observed that I wouldn’t ever be able to ride without a full-time pit crew. While I mentally listed all the tasks I’d never be able to perform, my buddies completed the adjustments. No more excuses. It was time to begin.

I placed my hands on the cranks and pushed.

# # # # #

If you’re in the Fort Collins area, I hope you’ll plan to join us at Timberline Church on Wednesday, January 18th, at 7:00 pm. Along with Pastor Dick Foth we’ll share stories and insights and talk about dreaming God-sized dreams.

Please leave a comment here.

* * * * *

That New Kindle …

… needs some books, and I have just the thing!

If you or someone you know found a Kindle under the tree, how about adding Relentless Grace to your reading list–at a special reduced price?



5 thoughts on “Exordio Somnii

  1. Cassey Margo - January 28, 2012

    Cool story, I look forward to reading more like this in the future.

  2. ninja shock - January 5, 2012

    I really love the theme you have on this blog. Is it a premium one to buy or can it be downloaded for free? Maybe you had it custom coded, either way, it’s lovely!

    1. Rich - January 6, 2012

      It’s a custom theme created by Mona Penneypacker at Acorn Creative Studios.

  3. Busybody — Bouncing Back - January 2, 2012

    […] Last week I told you I’ve started working on a manuscript that’ll tell the story of Rich’s Ride. As I make progress I’m going to post excerpts at the Rich’s Ride site. I invite you to check out the first story, titled Exordio Somnii—The Beginning Of The Dream. […]

  4. Linda - December 30, 2011

    Hi Rich, just been reading your latest update and I want to say that in my opinion your one really great guy, I would have been terrified to do what you have done, so many times in the past there has been things that I have wanted to do but I don’t have your will power and determination. Keep it up.
    Wishing you and your family (dog included – forgotten the name) a very Happy and Blessed New Year, may all your dreams come through for you in 2012.
    Blessings to all.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to top