If I hadn’t paused to take this photo . . .

IMG_9124.JPGSo yesterday in the sudden quiet after the international bike tour guests left and we had closed up shop, I took this photo of Attica in the old cotton-holding facility where Bicycle Tours of Atlanta is located and then rode her back to catch the MARTA train to come home.

It was later than expected because this custom private tour was so much fun and ran long, but I had nowhere I needed to be urgently and I was able to relax into the ride down the bustling Atlanta Beltline. As I took the lane on 10th Street in Midtown, Atlanta, with the setting sun’s golden arms stretching across the road and drivers swirling around me, I passed a “party bike” of a dozen or so revelers pedaling their way from bar to bar and singing. Feeling a celebratory surge inside of me as well, I thought about how I had traveled an unexpected journey since my corporate America days, and I reveled in the fact that I had at that very moment my very first check in my pocket from this new job riding a bike. And it felt good.

When I got to the train station, it was closed, the entire perimeter surrounded with yellow tape as well as police officers, emergency vehicles, and news trucks. A quick search online revealed that a woman had been pushed onto the tracks, and her daughter had jumped down to help her. Both had been hit by a train. They were both still alive somehow and on their way to the hospital. There was a bus taking people to another station and I loaded my bike onto the rack in front, even though it would have been just a few blocks to ride. I was too shook up and needed to sit a moment instead. A lone man and I boarded and sat in our silence together.

Life. Death. We look it in the face every moment, especially when we’re Traveling at the Speed of Bike. We decide what actions to take, what choices to make, what path to follow, but sometimes it doesn’t really matter what we do on this journey called life because forces beyond our control are at work as well. Who knows if the tour had ended a few minutes earlier, or if I hadn’t paused to take that photo of Attica, if that woman on the tracks would have been me instead? Who knows what tomorrow brings? And so, for today, I pray for those women. I pray for the man who pushed them, who has been arrested. And I pray that I have the ability to keep living life out loud because no one knows when or how it can change in an instant.

fullsizeoutput_16c7My first memoir, Bucket List, set me on this course. As a young mom, I hungered to live the Life List more fully that I had written years earlier in graduate school, even though I needed to still be able to meet the school bus each day. The year-long journey I ended up taking changed the way I thought about this precious, unrepeatable gift of time we’ve been allotted. You may enjoy it, too. In celebration of my birthday, I’m offering the instantly-downloadable version of it for just 99 cents for this week only (click here).  You may not end up on a bike as a result of it (in fact, I don’t think a bike is mentioned once in the entire book), but you may end up on a path that feeds your soul in ways you can’t yet imagine.

I’m working on a new Life List now, as so much has changed since that first one I wrote. The world has changed. My family has changed. I have changed.

And yet, as always, I trust the journey.