The Long Red Line

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A TV show that does spotlights on local businesses came down to our office the other day to film an episode about our practice.  After interviewing Joanne and me and filming a couple of mock sessions, the camerawoman took some video of the office itself.  When I noticed she was looking at the large map I have hanging on my wall, I explained to her that I rode my bicycle across the country for charity back in 2006 and the red line on the map snaking from Seattle to Boston is the route that we pedaled.

She was intrigued and asked me why I had not said anything about the bike ride when she was interviewing me.  As I was pausing to consider my answer, she offered, “I guess it doesn’t have much to do with nutrition, right?”  My immediate reaction was agreement; the trip had nothing to do with either our business or nutrition counseling.  Really, I had just put the map up for decoration and perhaps a conversation piece; therefore, I saw no reason to discuss it on a program about our practice.

As I told her more about the map and our ride though, I realized just how wrong my initial reaction was.

I kept that map in my backpack during the ride.  After each day’s trek, I took the map out and drew a short line with a red Sharpie indicating where we had biked that day.  I clearly remember being in Montana, looking at the vast distance from there back to Massachusetts, and having a hard time believing we would ever actually get to Boston.

Nobody bikes from Seattle to Boston overnight, and there are no shortcuts.  It takes waking up each morning and making a conscious decision to put in the work necessary to go to sleep somewhere a little farther east than the night before.  The daily progress sums over time, and with each day’s trip the ultimate destination grows closer.

What began as a short, red segment connecting Seattle to our first stop in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, grew into a gigantic, continent-spanning line because each day we resolved to progress a little bit closer to our goal.  Day after day, we shrunk the transcontinental distance that once seemed insurmountable until we were standing on a Massachusetts beach.

The more I think about it, the more it sounds exactly like the work we do here with our patients.

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