14. A Fuller Picture

I can’t continue to write these little stories from my career in complete isolation from what was happening in other parts of my life when the events I’m describing took place. We are not uni-dimensional; pictures that present us as such are false.

For example, over the course of our married life, the Beloved Spouse has often commented that during those periods during which I wasn’t exercising on a regular basis, I was much more difficult to live with. She has even put the matter more strongly than that, hard though that may be to believe.

Two things figure into the facts behind her assessment. The first is that regular exercise improves the function of our internal systems; the second, as or more important than the first in my case, is that it can provide us with friendships that aren’t complicated by work or family overlays – and thereby with emotional outlets for the stresses of business and family life.

I felt remiss, therefore, in describing the period from 1987-1993 earlier today as my six dark years. After all, 1989 was the year in which an older friend and I started to bicycle together for an hour at dawn on weekdays in the warmer/sunlit months. In the following year, another friend joined us, then others after that.

Soon I found myself seeing five or six friends almost every day during the warm months, and excitedly thinking about racing or going for long rides on weekends with them through much of the year. By 1993, we had planned and were just beginning what would be annual 426-mile, three-day summertime bicycle rides from New York to the coast of Maine. Those extended rides would last for ten years, providing an emotional highpoint to each of them. The weekday morning rides would continue to this day, though the faces would change over the decades and my participation in them would rise and fall. Others found, and still find, the same pleasures in those routines as I did and sometimes still do.

In short, in those dark years when while my career was suffering, my social life – and, no doubt, my physical health – were getting better. I have no doubt whatsoever that without the morning rides or some near-equivalents I wouldn’t have had the physical and emotional resilience that I needed to get through the harder bits of my career.

The Beloved Spouse might not have liked me as much, either.

M.H. Johnston

3 comments to 14. A Fuller Picture

  • Anonymous  says:

    Thank you very much. These posts cause me to stop and reflect on my life. I appreciate your time and insights into life.

  • Dennis Paine  says:

    I second that!

  • DCS  says:

    agreed, they are very good.

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