Inspirational, Nope…Just Survival

June 17, 2011 By Lauren and Tom


I kid you not, I had just typed the title for this, and Lauren sent me her most recent Blog posting called “Inspiration”; guess that’s why we work well together, even though this topic hasn’t come up between us in discussion yet we both were thinking the same thing.

Inspiration is a funny thing; I can’t say I have ever been particularly “inspired” by an athlete, a political figure, or any other individual traditionally identified as an inspiration.  I’ve always dug deep and pushed myself to my limits regardless of outside factors and used the life lessons others have taught me in my everyday personality.  I guess looking back I’ve always taken inspiration from the little things in life; my parents and the role models they were for me, the close friends that guided me, the sport of cycling that doesn’t show anything but true personality and desire; a lot of little influences versus one big influence.

Neither L nor I are striving to be inspirational.  If you get some mojo out of our writings that’s awesome, if you find our experiences and situations educational, please take them to heart.  We’re not in the “inspiration” business; we’re in the “survive the day and tell about it” business.  We’ve made the choice to share our experiences, not out of some self-proclaimed desire for attention or acknowledgement; but out of a desire to show others it’s okay to walk away from tragedy with heads held high, that it’s okay to continue on with life after death of a loved one, and that you never might know what today will bring which is why you need to charge forward every moment without hesitation.

Now, in the past year…I won’t hesitate to say I’ve become inspired by those around me.  I’ve admitted before personally, but Jim’s family has inspired both Lauren and I to be better people.  I won’t share the words because they’re personal; but I will never forget Jim’s father questioning us like we were taking his teenage daughter to Prom in the weeks after the crash; his major concern was making sure we got started off on a positive foot despite his own family’s loss.  The concern in his voice, the look on his face, is something I’ll always think of; it wasn’t that he was harboring anger or aggression, but genuine concern, a trait shared by his wife, daughter, and son-in-law; and a trait we will forever be appreciative for. 

More than being inspired by a single person, I’m inspired by words.  I received this email after a phone call exchange from a man we’ll forever nickname Polish Pollock, my long time mentor and cycling coach:

From: Polish Pollock
Sent: Monday, July 12, 2010 11:40 AM
To: ‘Tom Hanley’
Subject: RE:

This is the normal/regular progression when someone suffers a tragic loss/experience. 


There are things that you can do something about, and things that you can’t.

Focus on the things that you can do something about.  Focus on you, Lauren, your stuff.

You lost a dear friend, in a fucked up situation, and that is going to sting for quite a while because of how you were affected beyond the loss of Jim.

Your friendship with Jim was only a part of your life.  Don’t let go of all the other parts.  Jim would have yelled at you for doing so.  I’m sure you know what he would say.

Honor Jim by kicking ass with all of the things that you two talked about.

I have read this email a thousand times, for months I had it printed out and the first thing I would see when I opened up by business portfolio.  To me, these words are more inspiring than anything I can ever dream of writing, and sharing these words is about as personal as I can fathom ever being.  But I felt it was needed to show those of you a bit of “flesh”, a bit of reality that “we are what we are”, and that “it is what it is”; I promise you neither of us signed up for this lifelong gig related to The Wedding and The Crash, but since it’s been bequeathed upon us…we can only share the stories of what we know and what we are.  It’s up to you to pay it forward in your everyday life, as my father-in-law says, “it’s not giving back, I never stole anything; instead I’m paying it forward for opportunity for others”.

So, for kicking ass in honor of Jim; take our words and run with them and never forget why we speak them in the first place.