Route: Highway 1
Distance: ~45km/28mi [Slowing Down As I Approach San Francisco]
Weather: Cool & Cloudy Morning Of Riding Give Way To Relaxing Afternoon in the Sun
Total Climbing: ~560m/1830ft
Notable Terrain: Rugged Beauty of the Sonoma Coast, With Periodic Climbs
Breakfast: Clif Bar Lunch: Nada
Dinner: Fish & Chips at The Boathouse in Bodega Bay
Snacks: Nada Beverages: Water, One Local IPA
Previous Night’s Sleep: 9:30pm to 7:00am [9.5 hours]
Previous Night’s Accommodation: Woodside Campground in Salt Point State Park
Swan Dive Into The Awesomeness In Everyone
Along the California coast, I’ve connected with many cyclists and hikers, along with a small number of nomads and transients roaming from place to place. Every encounter has felt positive, and often outright meaningful. With these memories in mind, I took a swan dive into a long-standing belief of mine during today’s ride. Swan dives offer a peek into the wanderings of my mind as I ride. More sprawling than fully realized:
I believe everyone has, at the very least, some measure of awesome in their being. A distinct set of redeemable or outrightly endearing traits, strengths, talents, and actions. Disagree, if you believe differently. I’m certain many would scoff at this belief. Take one look at the headlines. Still, I won’t budge on this one.
I’ll concede this belief is strained in connection to a rare, unnamed few. Take another look at the headlines. But, I cannot agree with the assertion that any single person is wholly irredeemable, terrible, or, at the very worst, evil. In the present, this may seem true. But, dig deeper and try intently. The awesome is always somewhere in there. Even if it seems invisible or minuscule.
Negativity, fear, hate, and evil aren’t encrypted within us, unchanged from birth. No one is born a tyrant. Like all else, negativity, fear, hate, and evil must be fed and watered in order to grow.
We’re all human, born helpless and wanting.
And, so, I believe everyone must have some measure of awesome in their being – one or more positive, loving connections to be shared with their world. In the present moment, some people may not seem to hold an ounce. Might be scarcely noticeable, buried far beneath the surface. But, I believe, the awesome is always there. Somewhere. Just a matter of my own opportunity and drive to find it.
Still, an unfortunate truth I struggle with is this…
It can feel far easier to focus on the dark than the light in others, the world, and ourselves. The impact of one negative connection can last far longer and more acutely than ten positive connections.
I may feel lifted by ten consecutive positive encounters with others, but they might linger only until the next negative moment with another person occurs. Then, that single negative encounter can fester and grow for days, or more. Maybe, in some cases, for life.
One comment. One look. One action. One news story. That’s all it might take to feed and water my negativity and fear, to believe and further believe this world is a bad, bad place. Then, the darker sides of life permeate in all directions, and the world appears to be filled with far more hate and evil than there actually exists, obscuring much of the positive.
An unfortunate, quintessentially human truth. One dose of darkness can outweigh ten doses of light. I struggle to remember this, at times.
For this moment, I’d like to lean into the light. Recall the overwhelming goodness in recent days. The implicit trust and love shared between travellers.
Since crossing into California, I’ve encountered far more fellow touring cyclists at every campsite. Hikers, nomads, and transients, too. All of us from different walks of life. Different ages, genders, places, experiences, personalities, and motivations for traveling on a bike. Not a single negative connection in the whole lot. Sure, a few odd exchanges and awkward silences. But, I’ve felt every connection has remained above the dark. Even better, many connections have felt meaningful and overwhelmingly positive.
We pass through each other’s lives for a moment, and we keep pedalling on. One might argue there’s no reason to connect with a person at all if they’re gone from your life in the next moment, anyway. I’d argue the opposite. Every positive connection made is further evidence of the easygoing trust and love – the light – that permeates this world, too. I’ve treasured those frequent moments that reaffirm my belief in the awesomeness that every human being possesses, no matter how damaged or fearful or hateful they might initially seem. I can only strive to remain open, to continue treasuring this belief, along with all those positive connections, long after my next negative one.