I woke up blinking at the sun washing over my comfy bed. I remembered I had the day off, and I was joining my fellow Bike & Builder Dan for a bike ride. Checking the time, I realized I had two whole hours before we were scheduled to meet. I picked up my book off the floor, where I dropped it last night, nuzzled further down into my comforter, and spent the next hour and half reading.
When I finally started getting ready, pulling on my Bike & Build super suit, waves of nostalgia swept over me. It was my first time wearing my jersey and my thread-bare cycling shorts (Dan later told me I HAD to throw them out because, even though my american-flag patch covered the worst of it, he could see my butt–this is what happens when you have only three pairs of spandex to wear for two and a half months!) in a month. I put on “Call Me Maybe,” the song that has made the whole country, even us secluded Bike & Builders, bounce with school-girlish romanticism, and dreamed of the summer.
And this is how my month post-Bike & Build has gone. One minute, I revel in the creature comforts that a life of stability can afford, and the next I am seeking adventure and the feeling of bliss that comes with real freedom and risk. These are feelings that cannot reside in the same person at the same time, and I have felt my opposing desires pulling me in two directions.
I, like many of us, really enjoy the life that affords comfort. I love the security that comes along with having a home, a job, and a schedule. I love having space I can call my own, space I can hide in if the world stresses me out. I like making money and spending it on material things and other crap I don’t really need, but really want. I like eating things that I create or that I buy, foods that I like to eat. All of these pleasures are a direct result of joining the rest of American society in the quest for cushiness.
But, the quest for safety and comfort described above has been ruined a bit by my summer–travel seems to do that. While I adore security, a large part of me wants to throw all the comfort I have away and seek out adventure, simplicity, and a huge, giant singleness of purpose. I want to explore, finding the things that I am afraid of, and tromping towards them anyways. I want to be constantly reminded that the world is beautiful, completely different than I thought, and insanely large. I want to rely on the kindness of strangers, and make them my new friends. I want to experience a wide variety of people, places and things.
This summer I knew why I was on the planet: for two and a half months, my job was to wake up, bicycle, and volunteer. In the month that has passed since that last ride to the Seattle beach, I have become muddled in my purpose. I think that what I want, even more than anything above, is to feel as purposeful and fulfilled as I did this summer. I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night worrying, as I have been the last week.
This summer I was taught what is truely important for me: having food and coffee, having real friends, and giving myself to a worthwhile venture. There is nothing else in the world for me to desire (although desire for a cute jacket, a ticket to a trashy movie, and a fancy backpacking stove, among many other things plague me constantly).
So, what I found as I bicycled with Dan was just what I needed to remember: I had an amazing friend to talk to, a great purpose (somehow cycling 50 miles always seems like the right thing to do), and a delicious stop at a pie shop in the end–I needed nothing else.