“Them’s Small potatoes,” my people used to say, by which they meant to impress upon me that the thing I was making a commotion about wasn’t worth all of the fuss. The saying holds true. Sometimes the thing that overwhelms has no more matter to it than a bag of small potatoes–lightly weighted and easily disposed of.
But sometimes a sack of small potatoes added to our load can prove just enough weight to put us over the edge if we aren’t careful. For example, all in all, most would agree that sweet potatoes weigh very little individually. But bundle eight or ten of those deformed old feet of orange yams together and they can rib-kick you!
Ambitions and Realities
Jessica and I discovered the unexpected burden that “small potatoes” can bring to us by means of an ambitious bike ride. I hadn’t ridden a bike for five years or more. We planned to ride from Kirkham, up Rock Hill, over the tracks, east down Lockwood into Old Orchard toward a small Vegetable stand. Three hills awaited us. Back packed and helmeted we pedaled onto these sloped taunters with vigor. But, somewhere along that long unfolding incline just past Summit Avenue, my legs quit! My legs quit with my backpack empty and another mile to go (Reminds me of moments in my life!)
Jessica waited for me. It is good to have a friend who waits for us when we’ve lost the strength to pedal! It is humbling though. Embarrassed, I tried to hurry Jessica on. I didn’t want everyone to see me needing help. “No one who is passing by can hear us babe,” she said gently. “It’s just you and me!” Seeing that I wasn’t comforted she added, “I’ll ride on ahead and meet you there!”
Proud how I expected to ride with empty pack over hill and mile even though my leg muscles possessed only the memory of bicycle riding.
Vain that I wanted no one to discover my bike empty legs as they drove past.
Grace to have a friend who is not embarrassed by my limits, but ready to linger alongside of them with me.
Finally, and in time, we arrived! Now all that was required was that we purchase the vegetables and ride for home. It was there, in that moment of imagined homecoming with only half-the-pedaling done, that I met the small potatoes. These were bundled, put into my pack and draped across my back. Small potatoes rest light in the hands of a fully rested man. But when you are two miles ride from home on cycle barren thighs and calves, even the weight of small potatoes can discourage and lean heavy into you.
Grace for the ride, the walk
We took the back way home–fewer hills and nothing to prove.
Jessica led on ahead with periodic stops to wait and let me know that she was looking back for me–a friend further up the road but present and mindful of our steps gives us vision.
Half-way home I walked my bike and potatoes–a slower pace still gets us home. A humbled posture travels steadier.
We made our last push up our long incline of a driveway–sometimes the last leg is the hardest.
At the top of the drive we high-fived and cheered! –making it through to the other side often kisses us with gratitude and story-telling.
We cooked and enjoyed our small potatoes that night! –tasty nourishment sometimes rises from our untimely little burdens.
I’m looking forward to our next ride to the vegetable stand! –stamina grows as we pedal the hills together. Even here in Webster Groves . . .