What to do when you’re feeling uninspired.

10AM, every day. Not insanely early, in fact a late start by most accounts… But 10AM is the time I use to sit out on my front porch and admire the view down into the valley below my home. Just me, the warmth of my latte, and the view.

Parents return from their morning errands, with only the littlest children in tow. School is in. The eagles soar, the trees sway gently in the breeze, and the mighty glacier-fed river rushes below. It is a post-card perfect picture, something you could imagine Robert Bateman painting in his studio for display in a gallery. Breathtaking, serene, and humbling, the perfect accompaniment to my steamed milk and espresso.

Then you hear it.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

The smallest of whispers, getting closer and closer. Louder and louder. Never deafening, so quiet that even a hushed conversation could mute the familiar sound.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

The sound approaches, still out of sight but drawing me in with the familiarity of a thousand childhood summers.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

And he appears. This same man, almost every day, just after 10am.

He is an elderly man, with at least 75 years of stories and wisdom behind him. He wears his jeans, his hiking boots, his coat. This must be his uniform, the way he dresses each day when he gets out of bed. There is a reflective safety vest draped over his delicate, weathered shoulders, likely at the insistence of his wife. I sit and watch, imagining her standing at their kitchen sink washing the dishes from breakfast – the same way she has for the last 50 years or more.

And he rides his old bicycle up the hill.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

His frame, strong as ever is draped over the tubes of steel and rubber, bobbing and rocking as he makes his way to the top.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

Suddenly, a car approaches in the opposite direction. A black Mercedes, likely a resident of the multi-million dollar homes resting on the crest of the hill behind me. A single driver, a man who appears to be in his mid-thirties, brings the car to a stop next to the man. The man on his bicycle stops, rests his feet on the ground, and lifts his head.

I perch on the edge of my seat, just close enough to hear their conversation yet far enough away not to intrude on their world.

“You’ve taken away all of my excuses,” the younger man says. “I stopped riding 10 years ago, thinking I was getting too old to keep doing it. But I see you here, every day, riding up to the top of the hill. You’ve taken away all of my excuses.”

The elderly man pauses, his face softening at the odd compliment. “When did you start riding?” he asks.

“I started in junior high. I loved the feeling of it, but when life got too busy to keep racing I just stopped. How about you?” the younger man prods.

“I started when I was 38 years old. My kids were growing up and I wanted to do something just for myself. I don’t always ride up this hill anymore, some days I have to stay in the valley, and some days I have to stay home. But whenever I can, I come here. Just look at the mountains, how could you not?” The elderly man shifts his weight and leans back, as if in awe of the beauty around him.

“I’m 38,” the younger man says. “You really have taken away every excuse I could think of. How do you keep doing it?”

“I’m 79 years old, and I’ve been doing this for over 40 years. I’ll do this until I can’t anymore. It isn’t a choice, this is just what I do.”

The young man pauses for a moment. You can see his expression change, even at a distance. “I’m going to start riding again. I’m just going to do it. You’ve inspired me. Thank you. What is your name?”

A truck comes up behind them, muting the sounds of their conversation. The younger man carries on down the hill, smiling and nodding at the elderly gentleman. The older man mounts back to his bike, just a few dozen feet from the crest of the hill, and pushes forward. And up he goes.

Whir, whir, whir, whir…

I never caught their names. I don’t know where either of them live. The elderly man is riding up less and less these days, but a curious sight caught my eye last week.

It was the younger man. Covered from head to toe in spandex, embroidered with a dozen logos from the Tour d’ France in black and yellow. And he was on his bike, speeding down the hill with the happiness of a little boy on his first two-wheeler. Smiling, riding, and taking in the view.

And so, my friend, I leave you with this today. When you’re feeling uninspired, when you think of quitting or taking a day off, when you can’t bring yourself to write that blog post or send that email or make that phone call, I want you to remember.

That fateful winter day, a 79 year old man was just doing the same thing he had done every morning for over 40 years. He got out of bed, mounted his bike, and rode. A simple thing.

But just the simple act of getting up and doing what he does – of not quitting, not taking a day off, not giving up despite his obvious and valid reasons to take a rest – inspired another man to get up weeks later, and rekindle his love of the sport.

Just by doing what he does, he took away all of the excuses for someone else.

His form isn’t perfect, he isn’t draped in medals, he doesn’t have the fanciest gear, and he has never been interviewed by the media for his accomplishments. And he taught me, that:

You don’t need to be “somebody” to be something to someone.
(^^Click to tweet^^)

If you’re struggling today, if you’re feeling uninspired, don’t rest on your laurels. Don’t wait for things to get better, or easier, or to “make it big” before you bother. Get out of bed, and do what you do. You just never know who you might inspire.