This morning in Charleston, I participated in the Edwin Gardner Memorial Ride. A bicycle ride to not only honor a fallen cyclist, but also a man who was an integral part of this city’s fabric, and loved by everyone with whom he came in contact.
I arrived with camera in tow, intending to capture each moment of this event, hoping to create a moving photo montage that would illuminate the spirit of the ride. I took photos of over 500 people gathered together on bicycles small and tall. Of children and grandparents and 20-somethings and everything in between. I photographed the endless stream of riders – gently, quietly, rolling down the Battery. I captured the group of paddlers floating in the water just off White Point Gardens, a lone rowboat in tow. As they raised their paddles in salute, their American flags fluttered in the breeze over the glittering Charleston Harbor and a flock of birds rose up into the blue true dream of a sky – their wings beating in perfect tempo to the thumping of our hearts. Hundreds of brightly colored flowers streamed past my lens in the murky water, thrown over the wall by the hands of loved ones with tear-soaked faces – sad and delighted and moved all at once in a unique collusion of emotions. Then I photographed the ghost bike, a pure white bicycle surrounded by flowers and graced by signatures, tied up to a post on the corner of Lockwood Blvd and Montagu, the site of Edwin’s death.
And on the very last photo that I took of the special insignia designed by Edwin’s family in honor of him, I looked down at my camera and saw the message “No CF Card”.
I was crushed.
And then I sat with it a moment.
And I realized that the lesson is this.
Be present in the NOW.
Put down your camera, computer, phone, or remote control. Reach out to the ones you love. Acknowledge the extraordinary beauty that beckons to you in every moment. Get connected with your environment and the people around you. Live your life with passion and power. And in doing all those things, you can be true to Edwin’s legacy.
And you can honor yourself.
And so I leave you with this…a poem by e.e. cummings.
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)