A Good Story

When he realized the load I was pedaling versus the journey ahead, a new friend chastised that I had planned poorly. Conceding I had indeed scant strategy, I countered, “Which story is more compelling? One: I anticipated and prepared for every eventuality. There were no surprises. Or two: I had no idea what I’d gotten myself into. These were the surprises ahead. This is what I learned.”

Which would you rather tell? Which story would you rather live?

I’d already pedaled Missouri’s Katy Trail a couple of hours one morning, when I noticed an aberrant scar carved into its groomed cinder surface. Its beginning was as abrupt as it was inexplicable, and it extended to the western horizon. Fortunately, that was the direction I was traveling, so investigating required no detour.

Miles later, I came upon a fellow pushing the bike and trailer shown in the accompanying photo. My first reaction was, “Wow! You’re having a bad day,” to which he countered, “No, this will make for a good story.” And, with benefit of his wisdom, yes, it was. Enough so that, five years and thousands of miles later, I’m sharing it again here.

I had already lived the truth of his sentiment repeatedly – that what at first impression may seem misfortune is often but a detour to someone or something we would not miss at any cost – but I had not learned to trust it instinctively.

I’m still working on that.

Oh, and in terms of composition and technical execution, this mobile-phone snapshot of his bike may be poor, but it captures a story, start to finish, as too few of my photos do. I only regret that the cheerful fellow would not join his bike in the frame.

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