Writing is not my forte. I’m better at talking. I’m comfortable blurting out my thoughts and feelings (like a good external processor does) in general conversation but writing them down is harder. I think there is something more permanent about writing all that stuff down in a blog where other people can read it over and over and search engines might seek it out for years to come. Like if I write something down and change my mind about it later, it will live on forever as a representation of who or what I used to be. I don’t like to live in the past.
I’m not sure if any hesitation for sharing this trip via a blog is about wanting everything I lay my hands on to come out right and knowing that it probably won’t, even though I strive for it, or that people who don’t know me might find out things about me that aren’t really me putting my best foot forward. The sort of conversations you save for the tenth time you’ve hung out with someone or after you’ve logged over 300 miles with them in the backcountry. Like how I’m a pessimist that thinks the human race has already crossed the point of no return for being able to save the planet despite the efforts we are making or how I think multi-level marketing scams didn’t create their business model as much as they stole it from organized religion.
My father has had a sign in his workspace for as long as I can remember. It reads – “Homo Sapiens – Distributed throughout the world. The various races of mankind are found in all parts of the globe except certain uninhabitable areas. Because of his superior intellect,
Man has become dominant over all other life, but is the only species that allows the destruction of it’s own environment.” I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that sign in the last 6 years as I watched the energy companies flock to my home area in north central PA to use the process of hydro-fracturing to obtain natural gas. It pushed me to truly reconsider choices I was making everyday in my lifestyle and last year I finally decided I
needed to be free of my car. I know, my car didn’t run on natural gas (but you wouldn’t know it as far energy industry advertising campaigns go though) and while I don’t heat my soon to be un-apartment with gas, I do use electric which isn’t that much better and might be worse. Departing from the car was just a step, for me, in the right direction. It brought me closer to my bicycle which brings me so much closer to lots of other things I enjoy. The outdoors, exercise, the simple pleasure of propelling myself to my destination under my own power and PB&J sandwiches. It also brings me closer to road side trash, construction work, road kill and drivers who don’t understand why anyone would ride a bike.
While the upcoming trip is exciting and fresh and seems like it might fill my need for adventure there are still plenty of fears and stress that come along with it. I’m lying in bed at night thinking about how we’ll find places to sleep and what if the weather doesn’t get warmer soon? What will we do in the south when these super storms hit that seem to be a destructive, weekly presence in the new climate cycles for parts of the USA? What if it’s too hot and dry in other places? What if we spend too much money on food? What if the bike doesn’t work like I think it will? What if my jacket isn’t as waterproof as I want it to be? I do this for a couple of minutes and then ask myself “what if it isn’t/doesn’t/can’t/won’t?” Do those possibilities deter me from going on this journey? The answer is an easy “no.” but it has also made me realize that most of the concerns I have are brought about by my first world lifestyle that only someone who lives in a country like the US can worry about. I have had thoughts that the whole trip is a rather selfish undertaking. “Wow, I live in a free country and I can ride my expensive bike with my expensive stuff on well maintained roads and eat at restaurants and fruit stands all day, everyday”. If I get hot and I can go into most any gas station or grocery store for air conditioning. While I’m there I can choose from an exploding population of cold drinks, candy, snacks and ice cream. If it gets really bad (yeah, what is really bad exactly? waking up in a country where people might blow you up because you just happen to be born in the wrong place at the wrong time) I can even get a motel room and have a big fat bed to myself and order food and people will bring it to my door! I can access hospitals almost every 100 miles should I get hurt and there will be emergency services and vehicles and people trained to help me in these situations.
I’m not wishing I was from another country or location on the planet and I’m not saying I think we should all go back to doing it the hard way just because some people are still doing it the hard way. I’m just trying to put things into perspective for myself which helps me make decisions I feel good about and yes, they are very first world oriented. In the end I hope to meet people on this trip who will continue to help me put things into perspective. I guess I’m also really lucky that I got to pick which pair of the five pairs of shoes/boots I own to wear on this trip. I can only wear one pair at a time.