Thursday, December 27, 2012

Be it Therefore Resolved...

To the many introverts and shy people out there, including me, I propose the following resolution: take the risk of conversation or at least a smile. To the extraverts and bold people out there, you know who you are, I propose the following resolution: learn to listen and be responsive to those who feel awkward in conversation.

I had a very good friend from Upstate New York who was cut in the latter mold. It is very unlikely that two people so opposite could be such good friends, but we were and are. He was a Harvard Ph.D. atheist. I was and remain an Auburn Ph.D. Christian. Needless to say, our worldviews are disparate. He was brash and often loud. And I was and am reserved, most of the time.

The glue that held these polar opposites together was the bicycle. When I quit smoking, I bought a quality, lightweight, multispeed bicycle. My New York acquaintance became my abiding friend as we rode 10 or 12 miles on the back roads of Columbia County most every morning for 15 years. I picked up some of his ways on the rides but, as far as I could tell, he never picked up any of mine. My wife noticed that I talked more and louder in the mornings after our ride. Although, his wife apparently did not notice any softening of his abrasive conversational habits.

The one topic we learned to steer clear of was religion. He could not see why any otherwise sane and intelligent man would believe an ancient myth. I could not understand why he couldn’t see that it was a True myth—the True myth of the ages. Once I said, “Jesus was either who he said he was or a complete madman.” He agreed with that one, but not in the way I intended, so, as I said, we avoided the subject. The only encouragement I got was his positive response to the testimonies in a Christian magazine I often shared with him. I soon learned that he subscribed to the publication.

            After I moved several towns away, he asked me to do a three-day bicycle tour to Mississippi— 300 miles roundtrip. Even though I was not conditioning as regularly as I did before I moved, I agreed.

            Well, it was a miserable trip. He was taking high doses of medication that gave him much too much energy. He rode much faster than I wanted. We didn’t stop to enjoy the countryside as I anticipated and he was insulting to every waiter in every restaurant where we ate.

When we returned home from that trip, I told my wife that, if I ever said I was going on another three-day bicycle tour with him, to kick the spokes out of my bicycle. Our friendship fizzled from there, but all-in-all I still like the guy and would go for a ride with him at the drop of a helmet.

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