Sunday, April 4, 2010

What Does it Really Matter?

When I’m sitting in my philosophy class, discussing/debating a specific point with my classmates and Prof., oftentimes I’ll just think to myself: “What does it really matter?” It is a very valid question. Most of the time, while the particular piece of philosophy may defy the cultural norms and be totally revolutionary, when I attempt to answer that question I find that it doesn’t actually matter at all. Sure, it may mean something, or the point may even be true. But does it affect the way that we should live our lives? When I take the initial question to that level, I often find that philosophical discussion is meaningless because whether or not a point is true or false would not affect how we live our day to day lives. Granted, some points do affect how to live, but many don’t.

When I turn the question of “What does it really matter?” to mountain biking, I often come up with a startlingly similar answer. But there are many great benefits to mountain biking! It helps me stay sane by releasing pent up energy and stress in a positive way. It helps me to simplify as I return to the elemental aspects of nature. It is fun! It’s a great form of exercise, and because of that keeps me healthy and fit. It allows time for social interaction with other people, and creates a common interest for the first levels of friendship.

All of those things are really good things. But is mountain biking necessary to accomplish all of them? Not really.

Mountain biking and cycling as a whole is really a lifestyle, and is something that many of us really do shape our lives around. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But at the end of the day, you’re just a skinny guy on a multi-thousand dollar piece of metal and carbon dressed in brightly colored skin-tight clothing trying to reach the top of this hill just a few seconds faster than all of the other skinny guys on their ridiculously expensive pieces of metal and carbon in their ball-hugging outfits.

So while mountain biking is a vehicle to a great many good things, by itself it is worthless. While it may be O.K. to shape your lifestyle around mountain biking, if it is what provides you with purpose and meaning in life… you are living a very empty life.

Let me illustrate.
Today I gave a 94 year old man a ride home. When we got to his house, I helped pull him out of the car and totter inside with his walker. I helped the old man into his chair, and he said that his bottom was all wet: he had peed himself on the drive over. His wife who takes care of him wasn’t at home. I tried to find her, but couldn’t. The old man told me that she would be next door. I looked next door and she wasn’t there. I came back and the old man was trying to take his old person diaper off by himself. He succeeded, but his bottom and his pants were still soaked. Something needed to be done, so I helped him put on a fresh diaper and fastened it around him. Then I knelt down and helped him off with his shoes and wet pants, and helped him pull a fresh pair on. I buttoned his button for him and zipped his fly up.

Now let me ask you this: do you think this man gives a rip about the fact that I can ride a mountain bike pretty dang well? HECK NO HE DOESN’T!!! He’s just worried about trying to control his bladder! In the grand scheme of things, mountain biking rates pretty low on the things in this world that are truly important.

At that moment in time when I saw this old man who couldn’t even control his bladder trying to change his diaper but being absolutely incapable of doing so, the one thing that mattered was having enough compassion and enough balls to get down and dirty and to help him out. Now, I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but the fact of the matter is that I could have easily just left him there. As a second best option I could have called someone to help him. But this man really needed help exactly then, right in that moment. I had the opportunity to be the person to serve him.

The point is that there is something, or rather someone, higher than what happens here in this world and what happens out on the trail that called me to respond to this issue and help this poor man out. This person, who is higher than our competitive spirits on the singletrack, came to this earth, and washed the feet of a man who would betray him. We celebrated his willing death for the sins of the world two days ago on Friday, and we celebrate his resurrection and triumph over death today! This man is named Jesus, and while he is man he is wholly God at the same time and he died for us.

I know many of you may be skeptical about “Christianity.” You know what, I’m skeptical about “Christianity” too. But I believe in this guy named Jesus.

What I want you to do is just think about what I said. Think about what is truly important in this world. Is it really all about dominating a sick downhill and throwing that trick that you’ve been working on? Or is there something more, something deeper.

Think about it.


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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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Mountain biking, plain and simple. Trail reviews, ride reports, and philosophical musings induced by delirium from grinding up way too many vertical feet.

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