Rivs in danger scares me.
Having thought of you since learning of your illness, that’s what has become most clear: if mortality can taunt you, then each of us is in peril.
Of course I understand that we’re all mortal, but I choose not to dwell on it daily. I move through life safely, mostly oblivious to the risks. And yet here you are, a man who routinely mocks the edge of your ability, plays games with the limits of your consciousness, and comes out alright.
I see it in the eyes and words of my loved ones, if danger can absorb such a strong man like you what hope does it leave for us?
You’re not a close friend, we met only recently on the streets of major marathons. Our connection paved under competitive duress. As you fight a rare form of cancer I’m both inside and out of your persona. We’re friends and I also follow your stories. We’ve discussed race strategy, and I also gain inspiration and meaning from the kernels of fire and fury you give your hundreds of thousands of followers.
But of course you’re just a man. The legend of Tommy Rivs — a sixteen-ab-endurance-pirate who rages in black — grows and grows, precisely because you’re just a man. We’re inspired by your distinct pairing of competitive fire and gentle fatherly love. Your presence challenges me to both dream bigger and love more.
Your life is a provocation — a demonstration that it’s possible to rage on the edge of failure while also giving selflessly to your community. If you can push yourself in such opposing directions so intensely, then maybe I can move outside my cove of safety a step further. Maybe I can risk living a bit more freely.
I admire you for the willingness to accept weakness while displaying strength. For proving that vulnerability is simply part of the path to loftier plateaus. In proving yourself so openly, endeavoring so nakedly, you force me to ask, “How much is my own ego holding me back from what I’m capable?”
Seeing you in danger scares me because, like so many people, I’ve used the image of your strength to picture impenetrable moments for myself.
But, scrolling back through both your private messages and public posts, I’m reminded that you were always honest. You never hid your intent. With every run and post and poem, when you said “Let’s Rage!” you were reminding me that we are strong not in spite of our mortality, but because of it. The gift is to try, and try again, never fearing failure, simply pushing onward knowing that regardless of the outcome, we won’t let a beautiful moment pass without a fierce fight and a full heart.
Rage on Tommy.
I need you.
I need all of your strength and all of your weakness.
Rage on brother.