The Magic of Showing Up, Part Two

January 21, 2010

For bicycle messengers (and other cyclists), the winter is what separates the professionals from the wannabees. I realized this earlier today as I was walking downtown in Chicago on a cold, gray and windy day as I watched a lone cyclist struggle to pedal fast down the street.

Once upon a time, when I was out of high school looking for a summer job, I wanted to become a bike messenger. It was partly inspired by my love for cycling and watching Kevin Bacon in the movie Quicksilver. I decided against the bike messenger gig because it would have involved a 14 mile round-trip ride plus whatever miles I would cycle during the workday.

Seeing this lone bike messenger today also reminded me of a time about 10 years ago when I was working a freelance gig at a local university.  On one very cold, snowy day, a bike messenger (who was less than six feet and 150 lbs.) walked into our office to deliver a 10 ream box of paper. I will never forget that moment he walked in — out of breath, dripping wet and his glasses so fogged up that I’m surprised he knew where he was going.  My mouth dropped wondering how this rather small guy could deliver such a large, heavy package in near-blizzard conditions. It turns out he rode more than two miles with the box on his front handlebars.

Recalling this incident again today reminds me of an earlier post I wrote about showing up. It prompts me to ask:

What is it that you want to do so badly that your willing to show up every day, no matter how bad the weather or how crazy you look doing it? What is it that you love doing so much that your salary is secondary to your personal satisfaction? What are you willing to do that all the wannabees don’t want to do?

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Jesse.Millan

1 Lori January 22, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Hi Tim,
Your story drew me in. I can just imagine seeing that guy all snowy and breathless – great imagery! As a former cyclist (as you know) it made me really miss those days of pushing through a hard day, feeling sweaty, and feeling like I had accomplished something really great. I miss it.

Anyhoo…what summer job did you end up getting if it wasn’t the bike messenger job? Just curious.

As for your questions, good ones!
I love writing, being creative, graphic design, and I guess just the act of creating ‘something’ from ‘nothing’ – especially if it helps someone else along the way. So, by those standards, I guess I’m doing that on most days and enjoying.

I enjoyed this post a lot, Tim. Thanks!

2 Tim January 22, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Hi Lori: Thanks for sharing…isn’t cycling awesome? I still remember that bike messenger very vividly…and our conversation. I told him how much I admired him for delivering that box. Sounds like he was used to it, though.

In any case, I ended up working a for a couple summers after high school at a small commercial printer in an area of downtown Chicago known as Printer’s Row, which is just south of Sears Tower. Ironically, there are very few, if any, printing companies left in that area and it has gone condo big-time. But it was such a huge rush to be working downtown and using some pretty good skills when I was just out of high school. Those were some good times.

Thanks for sharing your answers, too. I think I’d agree with you about being creative and writing. Have a great weekend!

3 Ryhen | Mind Power January 23, 2010 at 6:19 am

This is very inspirational, Tim. It reminded me of what Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I think people work for three reasons:
1. They want to – passion (they simply love what they are doing)
2. The need to – discipline of action (they may not like what they are doing but they are fulfilling a purpose either for themselves or other people)

As for my case, I previously worked because I needed to. Now I’m doing what I want, and I never really felt like working the day I started with this endeavor.

Keep on inspiring, Tim!

.-= Ryhen | Mind Power´s last post…Heroes Never Say Die… They Say Cheese! =-.

4 Tim January 24, 2010 at 12:08 am

Hi Ryhen: Thanks for your good words and encouragement, I appreciate it. Yeah, we all need to pay the bills and put food on the table. But I think our economic challenges are causing us to re-think things a little. I think many of us are waking up to finding work that we’re passionate about. It sounds like you’ve found something you really enjoy, which I’m very happy to learn about. Have a great weekend!

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