From the Moment We’re Born



Joey, and joey, hanging by threads over the Abyss. As are we all. (Suspension by Jeffrey. Photo by Nancy.)

The moment we’re born, the dying begins.  Decline is part of life.

People fixate on “health”, even as they decline.

That’s a failure of thought, or of language.

Thoughtful people don’t care about “health”.  They care about being, about doing.  A disease or defect matters only to the extent that it gets in the way.

Ride chauffeur Jeffrey is determined to emulate me, the Kangaroo Court Puppet.  Puppets just . . . ARE.  And they do their thing.

Because our 2018 plans soon may change, I’ll share some secrets from the last few Rides.  You’ll see Jeffrey’s determination to BE and to DO.  And you’ll be prepared for a possible zig to our zag.

You may recall that in 2015, Jeffrey pedaled us 1000 miles through New England despite a painful broken leg.


Ten days before the 2015 Ride.  Three partly healed breaks.

In 2016, Jeffrey pedaled us 1400 miles from Chicago to Albuquerque despite four irritating screws.


Two of the screws removed after the 2016 Ride.  The rod remains.

In 2017, Jeffrey pedaled us another 1400 miles to San Jose.  The public story was that friend George would see us safely across the desert.  Kept quiet ‘til now is that the day before we left NYC, Jeffrey’s heart went haywire with supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), doubling or tripling his resting pulse for hours at a time.  Jeffrey asked Nancy and the doctor what would convince them to allow us to go West.  The answer was, a chaperone for the 800 desolate miles from Albuquerque to the eastern reaches of Los Angeles.  Enter George.  We made it to San Jose without incident.  Then SVT attacks resumed.  In August 2017, a doctor zapped the short circuit in Jeffrey’s heart.  Problem solved!


Jeffrey’s resting heart rate during a 2017 SVT episode.

These trivialities did not stop us in 2015, 2016, and 2017.

Now it’s 2018.

A few days ago, Jeffrey was admitted to hospital with a pulmonary embolism (PE)—a painful lung-killing blockage of the pulmonary artery.  The Director of the hospital’s Inpatient Pulmonary Service, an embolism expert who immigrated to the U.S. despite our government’s efforts to exclude him, was surprised because Jeffrey has no risk factors.  He will investigate why this happened.  Meanwhile, he said Jeffrey’s “beautiful lungs” will recover fully.

Then gasping, feverish Jeffrey was diagnosed with pneumonia.  It’s a common sequel to PE lung damage.


Instead of a photo of lungs, here’s a breath of freshness: the lovely, ageless, patient Nancy, who cares for the disintegrating Jeffrey, aloft in a hot air balloon over Orange County, NY.

Jeffrey’s home.  Fever’s gone.  Breathing’s easing.  But he’s been inactive for 10 days.  Going soft.  And he’s not 27 anymore.  (I’m 27.)

Dare we proceed with the Seattle Ride on February 28?

“Health” means nothing.  What matters is ability.

Joey can be Joey.

But can Jeffrey be Jeffrey?

We could do a shorter local Ride in March.  We could stay home until the May Ride to the Deep South, and save Seattle for next fall or next year.

But we don’t want to live someone else’s life.  We want to live our own.

In this American time of soul-crushing cruelty to our neighbors who without money or papers have no effective way to resist, it’s our duty to leave the NYC cocoon, to see and be seen, to listen and be heard, to learn and to teach about human rights.  It isn’t much.  But it’s something.

Yet there are multiple values to weigh.  As the sage Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who is for me?  But if I am only for myself, what am I?  And if not now, when?”

No pity party!  Just transparency.  When we decide what path makes sense for 2018, we’ll tell you.  Promise!

Stay tuned.

16 thoughts on “From the Moment We’re Born

  1. Jeffrey – Know that your devotion to the cause is something very special. That is why so many of your friends will support you and Human Rights First whether you choose to ride or not. We want you to be well enough to be able to do a ride next year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are my hero! Take care of yourself because without you who will fulfill your mission? The journal of your mission keeps me motivated to continue to make a change at my local level. I was a citizen but not a participant. Now I am a citizen-participant. I write and call my congresscritter. I protest. I march. I am now working to get out the vote. Your journey is part of my fuel. Thank you! Best wishes on continued good health!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jeff – Despite not wanting pity, I’m going tell you how shocked and sorry I am to read about what you’ve been going through! I know you’ll be back on the road soon and doing what you love. But in the meanwhile, I’m hoping for your complete recovery from the pneumonia!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Joey Please tell Jeff that his long-term ability to continue to fight for the well-being of others is more important than riding this year. As Shelley Spar wrote, ‘your friends will support you and Human Rights First, whether or not you choose to ride or not. Refuah Shlema – wishing you a speedy and full recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I also agree with Shelley. We will support you and Human Rights First whether you ride or not. Healing and recovering are so important. Please make that your priority.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I think that I’ll send more bucks this time if you stay home and conserve your health and energy for many more future endeavors.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with the above. We can all match or exceed last year, on the condition that you NOT ride! Look at it this way… how are you going to give free legal services to NYC immigrants if you are unwell? We need you healthy. We is your family, friends, and those you help. At the very least, the trips would be a stress on your body. At worst, far worse. It would hurt your cause to go this year!
    Irene Salazar


  8. Jeff- heal quickly and fully. I’m watching the olympics and it’s a reminder that sometimes waiting to get healthy postpones but doesn’t prevent.

    Hoping and praying for a speedy recovery
    Nina Charnley

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Jeff
    Thankful that you are on the way to recovery. Have loads of rest. And hopefully you will be up and about soon. No doubt with your spirit and great determination and Joey by your side you will achieve your next goal. Take care. Michael and Annette x


  10. Please get yourself better first….there will always rides to complete….but your overall healrh is what will keep you going.
    It will take a while to build yourselfback up to have the strength to do another ride at a later date. Please do not jeopardize your life.
    I eish you a speedy recovery and continued success with supporting your cause.


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