Lance Armstrong convinced me to shave

When they put that collar around my neck back in May, I stopped shaving. First it was because it hurt to even press a razor against my face. Then it became a matter of just not being interested in grooming. Finally I started trimming it and decided I would leave it until I got the neck brace off. That, I thought, would happen this past Tuesday. It didn’t, but I shaved anyway.

I have always been interested in following Lance Armstrong. I can’t say that I am a complete fan. There are certainly parts of his life and personality that I personally do not wish to emulate. However, one thing I certainly admire about him is his tenacity.

Tuesday I took a moment to switch on Versus and they were running Lance Armstrong All the Time. I’ve seen it before, so I was only partially following what was happening on the screen. However, an image caught my eye and arrested my attention. It also changed my outlook.

You’ve seen the video. It is a picture of Lance Armstrong with a bald pate due to brain surgery and cancer treatment. Yet, there he was on the trainer spinning away. In a challenge far exceeding my own, he was getting back up and getting on with life — not only seeking to exist, but to excel.

I shaved.

I was feeling pretty down that I was going to have to go another month with this neck brace. It was disheartening to learn that my recovery was going to take longer than I hoped. It was frustrating to see all my plans turned upside down.

“Well, I guess I’ll keep my beard a little longer,” I thought to myself. It had become a symbol of my submission to the challenge I was facing. I was allowing this collar that was constricting my neck to constrain my heart.

I shaved.

Sure, shaving didn’t change anything. However, changing my outlook did. Getting rid of the hair on my face was a symbol of that internal change. Now, every morning when I shave my face I will look in the mirror and remind myself that I don’t have to be limited in my spirit by the circumstances I’m in.

I’ll shave and in the back of my mind will the be image on a gaunt young man with a “C” scar on top of his head. He’ll be spinning on his trainer with a look of determination in his eyes. He’ll also go on to win 7 Tours de France.