The most intense and stunning 70 days of my life with the most committed and evolving 30 people I have ever met are over. The trip feels like a dream, and so does the ‘real world’–and I am amazed by both.
After a few days to mill it over, I believe the two most important things I am taking away from this experience are:
(1) Anyone can do a journey of this magnitude–or anything else they can dream up.
(2) Our service is badly needed in this country.
Last Tuesday I packed my bags in silence, trying to take in the reality that this day was my last with Bike and Build. The whole day I tried to wrap my head around that thought, and the whole day they only thing I could think was, “I don’t want this to be over.” I said that sentence to many people around me–and I still feel that way, a week later.
Leaving Bike and Build is a terribly surreal experience. Last Tuesday we were all told that we were cycling to Seattle–the long dreamed of end to our long and beautiful journey. I couldn’t believe it. How, I kept thinking, could it be possible that in such a short period of time, we have cycled across the entire country? It doesn’t seem possible.
Our last two miles all riding together, whooping all the way, was unbelievable too. Not to mention actually seeing the bay, and running toward the water. The sand was hard to push my bike through, and the water, once jumped into, was freezing. I hugged my amazing new family for warmth–and out of sheer disbelief. Were we all really there? Had we really done this? Was this really the end?
And then, with a dripping, freezing, wet dip of our back tires in the bay, the whole trip was over. Bike and Build P2S 2012 had vanished as quickly as it had appeared.
I am still reeling from the experience. It is as if, after months of being on sea, you finally get to the land you may or may not have been seeking all along. Perhaps, because my legs and mind, for so long, have been moving in new patterns, it is hard to get use to the ‘normal’ way of moving and seeing things. I think these feelings are well documented in any number of people returning home after a strange and life changing experience–but that documentation in no way comforts.
The number one sentence I have heard when speaking to people before, during, and after the trip is: “I could never do that.” I am here to tell you that there is nothing so untrue. With training, delusion, and a lot of determination (and supportive friends don’t hurt), anyone can cycle across the country. You might not believe me, but it is true. 30 young, crazy, non-cycling-professionals gathered to cycle across the country this summer (just on my trip), and despite our inexperience and lack of training, we all made it!
That truth, that we made it and that there was nothing exceedingly special about the 30 of us, is inspiring me to continue to achieve my dreams. One of my great friends, Nate, has a new mantra, “do more of what makes you happy!” And I want to pass that bug along. Instead of thinking “I could never…” please start dreaming and then achieving! We can all do so much more than we think we can!
Finally, I have realized that this country needs us all. In the past week I haven’t spent any time helping my fellow citizens, and it reminded me of just how difficult it can be to remember to volunteer once ‘real life’ starts. Every morning this summer our fearless leader Neil read a quote from FDR to fire us up. My favorite is as follows:
The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
Although FDR was talking about the progress of our entire country, I like to think of the quote also applying to my progress as a person. This country is amazing, despite all of the insanity of the media and politics and etc., and I must remember to continue to ensure I do my part to help it–even if, at times, it is hard to remember why in such a polarized political atmosphere. This country is made up of a majority of people who really want the best for us all, and a huge percent of people who could use a hand.
I hope to hear what crazy dreams you are going after, what and important volunteer experiences you all have as well…for this is not the end!