Peter McKay is one of the most relentlessly cheerful people I know. I first met Peter years ago on one of the Seattle International Randonneur rides and in the dozens (maybe hundreds!) of times since then when we've crossed paths or ridden together I can't recall a single time that I haven't seen him smiling. Peter is not just one of those guys who sees that glass as being half full, he'll point out that the glass is half full, that it's a beautiful glass, that it's a wonderful day, how great it is that we are here enjoying the glass, and so on. You'd think that would get on the nerves of a cynical guy like me but Peter lives his life with so much joy that when he repeats his favorite phrase, "It's a beautiful day and we're on our bicycles" I can't help but smile and agree. (I think perhaps it was my grumpy old pal Mark Thomas originated that sentence but it has become Peter's motto.)
While riding home from work Thursday night, my friend Peter McKay was shot. Peter is going to be OK and in fact, knowing Peter, I'll say he's going to be better than OK. You can read about it here:
My immediate reaction was "you bastards!" and to think about a vigilante biker gang delivering some u-lock based education to the obviously thick skull of the shooter and the equally moronic driver. I figure it's pretty hard to shoot and drive at the same time so Peter's assault was the work of at least two sons-of-bitches.
In the face of such obvious evil and hostility, it's tempting to give in to anger or despair. This week another friend of mine, a tough fellow who has been car-free for years, has been taking the bus. Too many close calls with too many aggressive drivers have worn him down. "I just can't take it," he told me. (And no, this isn't me and this isn't one of those "I have this friend..." stories.) But I know my friend will be back on his bike. I know that because I know him and I think I finally know what to say to him.
My friend Peter gave me the answer. Read Peter's post. Especially the last sentence: "I still really love riding my bicycle." Sure anger passed through him and I'm sure despair did as well. But anger and despair aren't what Peter McKay is all about. Peter is a man who sees the beauty of the day and chooses to ride his bicycle.
I certainly hope the bastards who shot my friend are found and brought to justice. We will never rid the world of the evil and the idiotic, but we will certainly never defeat them with their own tools, anger and despair. We win by keeping on, choosing what is sometimes the harder road because in our hearts we know it is the better road.
It's a beautiful day. I'm going riding on my bicycle.
Get well Peter. I'm looking forward to seeing you on the road.