Thursday, January 1, 2004

My Newest Favorite Color - Yellow

© 2004 By Dr. Tim Maggs

One year ago, while chatting with my favorite 3 year old on the planet, Timmy Maggs, jr., he told me his favorite color was blue. I looked at him with a little amazement, and said, “T, I don’t even know what my favorite color is. How do you know yours”? Without hesitation, Timmy said, “It’s orange”. Oookay.

Early on in this year’s Tour de France, caught my interest. After all, I’d read Lance’s 2 books, It’s Not About the Bike and Every Second Counts. Both electrified my internal juices, as here was a human being who went right to the edge. I can’t imagine anyone getting closer……..and coming back.

When his surgeon, an elderly, bow-tied fellow, was asked what he told Lance after getting all test results back, “I told Lance he had a 20% chance to live. Actually, he had a 0% chance, but I had to give him some hope”.


And, here we had Lance Armstrong once again riding in the Tour de France. It was almost surreal, maybe even unreal, like 1 plus 1 = 7. Just didn’t make sense. Now, as Lance tries for not 1, not 2, not 3, 4, or 5 victories, but number 6, he stands up in front of the world and asks for something. Not for him, not for his profit. He asks for donations to the very industry that brought him back from death row, the American Cancer Society.

Let me say right here, I’ve been a tad skeptical of the ACS for most of my life. I just can’t get by the fact that so many Americans lead very unhealthy lives, and most marketing done out there is about unhealthy foods, unhealthy lifestyles, and then all the different drugs, surgeries and radiations that can rid you of reminders that you’re doing the wrong thing. So, for 25 years, I’ve ignored all requests by the ACS.

But, when was advertised during the Tour, I couldn’t connect soon enough. I couldn’t order enough yellow bracelets fast enough to show and proclaim my support for Lance. My personal feelings for the ACS were insignificant, irrelevant. There was nowhere in my mind that my feelings could even begin to entertain having an opinion on this thing. Lance had returned from his journey, had come back and was on the verge of doing something no other human being had ever done, and I was now being asked to either support it or turn the channel.

Multiple times, I went online to order 100 bracelets for friends and patients, but it just wouldn’t go through. I tried and tried, but it didn’t happen. Universal law states that human beings want more of what they can’t have, and this law proved truer than true here. After repeated failures, I accepted the fact I would try tomorrow.

As my family arrived home that evening from a brief shopping trip, my oldest son John walked in and said, “Dad, I bought this for you”. I couldn’t believe it when he pulled out of his bag a yellow bracelet. At that moment in time, the most important thing on my mind was being given to me by my oldest son, an act that gave exponential meaning to me. I’ve got a mountain bike I was given 15 years ago by a friend for helping him, and I’ve got a mandolin given to me by my father for my 50th birthday, and these two gifts are virtually my only “real” possessions in my life. Now, I have a yellow bracelet from my son.

Life truly is a crapshoot. None of us know from one second to the next what’s coming down our road. All of us wish we could design our future, create the perfect scenario, but that’s not how it happens. Later today, tomorrow, and the rest of life is nothing more than a wish.

Here’s what I now know from the trials and tribulations that I’ve gone through in my life. I’ve never been to the edge like Lance has. I’ve never experienced the pain of losing a child. I’ve never been told I’ll never walk again. I have gone through some rough spots, but none you can’t come back from. Yet, those rough spots have been my gift. I’ve learned more from them than from any of my successes.

Lance has been consistently challenged by many for his drug use. The problem here is that his critics overlooked the resolve a person develops when they’ve been so down and out, there’s no where else to go. Some of the media ignores the depths, they only look at what might sell. Pathetic. But, knowing that life is such a relative experience, having nothing gives you a fire in your belly, an energy that can’t be measured by any medical tests. It doesn’t make sense to the masses who haven’t been there. However, in my own way, I’ve been there, and without a doubt, Lance has been there. So, when he powered up L’Alp d'Huez, and passed Ivan Basso, this wasn’t drugs in action, this was life in action. This was a person who’s been to the bottom of life, and given another chance. This was the life everyone should beg for, but most fear. Lance handled this year’s Tour the same way he handled his cancer, one pedal at a time.

When a friend asked, “What’s that band for”?, I answered, “For Lance Armstong’s Cancer Fund”. He responded, “You buy into the Cancer Research”? I said, “No, but I buy into Lance”. He responded, “Yeah, but he’s a druggy”. I responded, “Yeah, but I don’t judge”. The questioning stopped, as it should have.

Yellow, my newest, favorite color. Have a great month!

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