Lance Armstrong winning another TdF!
Originally uploaded by belfast-biker.
Took my son to the lab today for a routine screening. While we waited for his turn, I looked at magazines; but I couldn't help seeing beyond their shiny words and pictures.
I saw a man sitting across the room, also waiting. He was younger than me--probably not yet forty. But his gaunt frame and obvious fatigue suggested he spent too much time in waiting rooms like this. He closed his eyes while he waited.
Maybe I looked too closely. The thin man's eyes snapped open and he stared at me. Then the nurse called him, and he disappeared inside, but I continued to see those eyes.
I returned to my magazine. People. It said Lance Armstrong and Cheryl Crow had broken up. I never really knew they were together--which shows how far behind I am on my People reading. The story suggested the couple separated because Cheryl had been candid about her struggles with depression. Lance, on the other attributed his survival and triumph to pushing through. Refusing to admit the darkness.
It made me think of my recent blog survey about depression. Lots of people had been very comfortable talking about their experiences with the disease. I admired their openness--and also the sense that nearly all of them had found a way to live and thrive in spite of it.
Other people seemed almost angry that depression was being discussed. They didn't believe in it! They said no to the possibility of bleak moods and seemed to think others should do the same--by moral force if necessary. At first, I didn't understand that response. But reading People at the lab, it made sense. Maybe those commenters were like Lance, and that was just their way of winning the race. They had to keep their eyes on the victory flag.
My son was called inside for his test. I watched an old couple take their seats. The woman wore a bright magenta scarf and gloves to match--her flag of victory, a talisman. I was beginning to get the idea.
Then a younger couple came in. The man was wearing business clothes like he had taken time out from his day to be there with her. She wore a sweat suit and nestled close to him while they waited. And that was their flag.
Before we left, I noticed an old man trying to put on a grey fleece jacket. He struggled against his own stiffness for ten minutes before he finally succeeded in getting it on.
Later, my son brought it up. "Did you see that old man? I felt bad for him."
"Yeah, I thought of offering to help him, but then decided against it."
"I think that would have just made him feel worse," my son said. "And besides, he finally got the jacket on himself."
And that, I thought, was his flag.
a P.S.: At Mary's inspiration, I listed my personal flags in the comment section. If anyone else would like to describe the banners you wave in the face of mortality and fear, I would love to hear them.