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Feb 22, 2018
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My Breakdown and how I coped with it

Thomas Shajan 25.8.2016

Well it happened. I finally had a breakdown. I’m not talking emotional here, or eighties style dancing, I’m talking a serious situation. I was riding my bike on a hundred kilometer jaunt from my small town to another larger town. The rain set in about half way, with thunder flashes in the sky. Suffice it to say, I got soaked. I was caught completely out in the open.

I had no choice but to ride on as the rain pelted my face and my cycling shoes filled up with water. At some point, I hit a slick part on the road, maybe a sheen of oil, or who knows what else. My front tire went wobbly and the next thing I knew I was sliding along the cement on my elbow, shoulder and knee. My first case of road rash and a bruised ego were the result but at the time, I thought I had escaped serious injury and thanked my lucky stars. I got up and continued on my way, thinking nothing more of it.

Now, I had started cycling later in the day and at about seventy five kilometers, it was getting dusk. I knew if I pedalled fast I could make it home before the blackness set in and this was a good thing because the small town where I live is in the middle of nowhere. It’s surrounded by dense forest and pretty much nothing else. I was in full peddling stride pushing hard with both my body and my bike. That’s when it happened.

I pushed on the pedal and it gave way. This caused me heave forward over the handlebars and I am doubly lucky that I didn’t go all the way and land on my helmet. My chain had broken and was dragging on the ground as I braked to a stop. I got off my bike and surveyed the damage while the gravity of the situation set in. I always carry a spare tire tube and some tools, but I don’t carry an extra chain. There was no fixing it. My ride was at an end and I was still twenty five kilometers from home. I wore a thing cycling shirt and shorts, nothing else.

It was just getting dusk and I had not seen a car on the road for at least an hour. I sat on the side of the road assessing my situation. A couple of cars passed in the half hour I sat there, but my thumb and pleading looks did not get their attention. I was stuck and it was getting pitch black. With the dark came the cold. Where I live in Canada, it’s hot in the day and cold, bone shivering so at night. The sweat on my body began to cool and the shivers set in. Long story short, I spent a night tossing and turning in the grass and nearly freezing to death. Not an exaggeration.

At first I went through all the stages of denial and normal frustration. Expletives echoed in the forest. I lay down for a time and then got up and walked around at a brisk pace, trying to warm up. Then I started to think. There was nothing else to do. As I write this, I am at home, having hitched a ride in the morning and sleeping for half the day. My thoughts have solidified.

You see, I am an author. There are two parts to my work. The first is to write a cracking book. I am pretty good at this part. The second is promoting that book. I suck at that part. My thought is this. Any business is like a chain on a bicycle. It is only as strong as its weakest link. I learned this the hard way. My weakest link was the knowledge and expertise to promote my books effectively. Either I was going to end up broken down on the side of the road in literary oblivion, or I was going to add a stronger link to my chain.

I did this in the form of a virtual assistant. They were strong, where I was weak. They had all the skills that I lacked and they came at an affordable rate. I turned all my book promotion over to them, and I’ve never looked back. Fortunately, I didn’t end up on the side of the road freezing in my writing career. I found a stronger link to put in my chain and I have never looked back.

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