With no tangible finish line in mind, I’m devoting more focus to other pursuits along the way. As I travel, these are my five intentions:
1. Live Simply.
One essential root of this ride is to live simply, no doubt.
Spend less. Consume less. Waste less. Rely less on accumulating stuff and things. Discover a greater appreciation for all that I choose to retain. I intend to simplify in these ways.
Some years ago, I began to embrace the challenge of exploring the vast divides between needs and wants. Ever since, I’ve tried to remain true to that root. Live with less. Feel through my boundaries between luxuries and essentials. Utilize the innovations and technological miracles we’ve been gifted with a greater sense of meaning and purpose. Avoid frivolity and excess. Not a single speck of this world is wholly mine. I’m trying to live accordingly.
I’m still learning. I’m still stumbling. Always will, most likely. Nevertheless, this ride serves as another step. To pack my life onto a bicycle is one of the surest ways to feel simplified. In every moment, I feel every ounce of my life weighing me down. This challenge is beautifully simple. To my mind, at least.
2. Embrace The Physical Grind.
Five years ago, I cycled across Canada. Victoria to St. John’s. No prior training or long-distance experience. An intimate learning of the human body’s incredible resilience and adaptability. An awesome web of struggles, breakthroughs, successes, and failures marked the trip. I felt broken on more occasions during that adventure than the rest of my years combined. The journey was repeatedly fulfilling. I am eager to expose my muscles and lungs and bones to the crueler elements once again.
I cannot wait for that first curse-inducing climb. I’m keen to lean into unforgiving headwinds. Feel exposed to the elements. Experience a truer sense of thirst and hunger on those longer stretches of wilderness. I wonder how long I’ll ride before I roll into that first inner wall. With every next challenge, another learning experience, no matter the outcome or consequence.
I feel driven to live to my fullest breaths. Live closer to my limits and accumulate a new collection of triumphs and humblings. Feel my body break, then rejuvenate, only to repeat the process all over again.
3. Expand and Enrich My Boundaries Within.
From a global perspective, my life is privileged in many ways – white, male, middle-class, and Canadian, for starters. Every privilege offers more opportunities and choices, and I’ve been gifted both with a rare abundance.
I am immensely grateful for this life I’ve been given. In far too many moments, though, I feel myself become too complacent. Entitled, at times.
Too often, I’ve submitted to the temptation of following the opportunities and choices that feel expected rather than the ones that feel right. On most days, I feel I haven’t truly challenged the boundaries of my own self. Life feels too familiar. Too comfortable. Too light.
I feel pulled to test the resolve of my own foundations. Shake my core and see what happens. Be alone. Feel alone. Think. Question. Endure moments of mental and emotional and spiritual anguish. Frustration. Exhaustion. Self-doubt. Feel through the lows until I rise again. The lows will serve to further illuminate the highs. Expand and enrich my boundaries within.
We all feel drawn to our own distinct set of challenges and pursuits. In this moment, I feel drawn to stray from the expected and familiar for awhile, in the form of a long bike ride. For me, that’s where a most meaningful growth resides.
4. Find Resonance.
Sunrises and sunsets. Tailwinds. Unexpected doses of kindness from strangers. Memorable conversations. Laughter. Stillness. Internal epiphanies. Elation. Pure, unfiltered joy. That singular feeling of peace that arises only in solitude. Gifts I receive and give. The list goes on and on.
I seek resonance in the world I explore. Beautiful and otherwise. Bring on the fearful tones and lonelier vibes and uncomfortable silences as well. They’re going to happen, anyway. Feels more fulfilling to embrace than to resist or fight. Bring it all on.
Live in the open and the world will open, too. Not much more to this one. I seek resonance in my connections.
And, there it is. That essential and needlessly elusive word.
Connections. The lifeblood flowing through every root that draws my life to this ride. This is the feeling that pulls me to this venture more than any other. More than every thrilling descent, memorable encounter, and tranquil sunrise. This is my final and most treasured intention.
5. Explore My Connections.
I am purposely detaching myself from the expected temptations of life for awhile to experience and feel and fumble through my connections. To both the world outside and my own world within. I seek to learn, live, love, and give.
I won’t detach completely, of course. My precious iPhone will be along for the ride. I will listen to music and podcasts. I’ll be checking sports scores. I will read books and articles. I’ll continue to exercise an openness for the people, wildlife, and scenes I encounter. I’ll be sharing words and pictures online nearly every day. Communication is vital to connecting.
I am not cycling solo to disconnect my life from this world I cherish so deeply. In truth, my intentions are rooted in the opposite. I’m riding alone on a bicycle to open my life to this world to another degree, to feel less distracted and less closed-off from all else. Explore my connections. Invite a deeper dialogue with this world and my own world within. Learn, live, love, and give. Feels all right.