Sunday, July 03, 2011

The Journey of A Lifetime

It’s going to be the road trip of a lifetime.


I made my list and have packed my bags and made my go, do and see plans for when we reach our destination.

However, I didn’t have a plan for when the travel does not start the way I want it to. In spite of the regular oil changes and upkeep, and diligent car maintenance checks it was almost inconceivable that the car will just not work the way that it should. The engine is not running the way it should, and its making these other noises rather than that low rhythmic hum, and when it reaches a certain speed the whole car starts to jerk and I have to slow down. Looks like were not going to get to our destination as soon as it was planned. I have no other choice but to take things slow.

It’s going to be one really long road trip.




It does not help that we hit the occasional pot holes… it adds on to the worry that the car will deteriorate further. But we try to be careful, even though sometimes it seems unavoidable to hit a bump on the road. But keep trying, we still do and we focus all our energy on getting to the planned destination.


And so we keep driving, slow as we may be.

Tension builds up when a car is tailing right behind us, seemingly nudging to make us go faster. And at first it was quite embarassing that we are driving way below the speed limit. And as more cars pass us by we became more anxious... Are we really that slow?

As we push on forward, there are times we find ourselves in envy of the other cars and SUVs that speed on by. There are also moments where we find ourselves cursing at the sports cars that cut ahead without even the courtesy of using their signal light. And other times, we find ourselves in moments of madness to catch up with at least the regular sedans that pass and sometimes even more so for the cars that have the same make us our own but still are already way ahead of us. Eventually, we understand that even if we step on the gas further down as we could, it could only speed up as much as the car wishes to. We have no control of how much we can actually accelerate.

We have our travel time table, and just like everybody who is travelling on a road, we want to get there on time. But with things not going the way it should, at least for the vehicle that we are driving, that travel time table will have to be tossed out the window. So much for thinking we could get there on time, or at least just a couple of hours late.

 


We drove on. Slow and steady wins the race as the saying goes.


But wait… what is this smoke coming out of the hood? There are no potholes? We kept our speed at the bare minimum. Uh, oh, looks like we are stopping. Stopping for good? Oh I sure hope not.

So we called the emergency road side assistance. They tried to see what was up with the car, and with that sad sorry look we were told that it can’t get us to where we plan to go... “It’s just not going to make it.” So is this it for us? But we have plans and we want to get there.




Well, we are already on this road, and do not want to be stuck here, and clearly we have to at least go somewhere. So how are we going to get there and where is this place?


We decided to rehash the old plans, and make a new one. The broken down car, we planned on not forcing it to go on and traded them in for bicycles. And the luggage? Well we have to do with just the essentials. Travel light and let go of the unnecessary stuff.

Oh, and we need a map! So let’s see, where do we go, without thinking too much about all the mile posts along the way, to get somewhere for however long it takes?




Starting the trip on the bike is the hardest part. You wonder about the road you’re traveling on and you worry if it would really take you to “a” destination… and you do this despite of checking your map over and over again. There’s also the feeling of exhaustion, and the occasional flat tire, or the fixing of a bent wheel, and the nursing of a wound from falling. But you have to just keep on moving forward if you want to get somewhere. Eventually the training wheels can come off, and you get your sense of balance and rhythm. You start enjoying the feel of the warm sun and the cool breeze, and the remarkable smell of the nature filled air…. Most importantly, you get a sense of freedom that you have not felt in a long time. Occasionally, you even impress yourself cruising steadily with your eyes closed, and from time to time, you surprise yourself even more that you can let go of the handle bars. There are also these intense moments that you catch yourself thinking that getting to the destination does not seem to matter anymore, for the journey is good enough in itself.

Being on a bike trail does not always guarantee a smooth ride. There will be times when you will need to give yourself a push and that extra effort to be able to ride up that steep slope. There are times that you will feel afraid and out of control as you go on a downhill trail. There are also times that you will be cruising steradily on a smooth path. Other times, you might need to walk it off, and still there are also other times that it might be necessary to just stop to be able to to take it all in, or let it all out, or to just simply recollect or reflect. But, it is important to never forget to keep on going. Because the more you try to ride the variety of paths set before you, the more you will start feeling less unsure about yourself and the better you get at maneuvering your way through. You also feel stronger each time you fall off and you get better and better at getting back on.



The good thing about traveling light on a bicycle is that you do not travel on the typical road. After all, there are rules against riding your bike on freeways, and not all freeways are bike friendly, although I think all roads should be bike friendly. Anyways, because we have our own road cut out ahead of us, there are untypical stops that we make along the way. The stops that a 4 wheeled vehicle cannot possibly go to, and this is not a bad thing, in fact if not for our car breaking down, we could have missed out. We’ve seen beautiful pastures with brightly colored wild flowers, thick green forests, rippling streams, majestic rock formations, astounding waterfalls, passionate sunsets, hopeful sunrises, and grand rainbows that can only be experienced being on the bike trails. There are also ravines and canyons that are breathtakingly spectacular.

Being on a bicycle, we get to breathe in life and realize how small we really are in the grandest scheme of things, but at the same time we don’t feel insignificant at all for we all have a purpose. This journey, on this bike, is my purpose.

We’ve met other bikers on the road as well. We trade bike travelling tips and some stories. Some stories exchanged are scary, some sad, some crazy, some funny, but all in the end coming out of it beautifully changed by the journey.

 
 
You see we plan on still getting there and we will get there, but where exactly is “there” is going to be a mystery, and I have a good feeling that it’s going to be a sweet surprise. Who needs a trip, when I was afforded a journey?



I have been driving down this wonderfully designed road for almost 2 years now, just us… and our bike.


10 comments:

Mihaela said...

Goodness... I started crying mid-story, realizing where you were going with that...
It is beautiful... so beautiful, and so powerful. Something like the "Welcome to Holland" piece, but much stronger, much more positive, and so much better.
You are a WRITER. I love everything you write, and this one hit it home for me today. I will be coming back to read it many times I'm sure.
Thank you, Madonna.
From another biker with love.

Carmie said...

Intellectually woven, spiritually driven, heartily written..thanks dons...this really inspires me and pretty sure everyone who'll read this will feel the same...

Kisses4Kaylee said...

Beautiful...simply beautiful. Now I am thinking that it is time for me to get rid of my clunker and get myself a bicycle, too. xo

Liz said...

Sitting here crying with a smile on my face....your words as always leave me speechless my friend. I will ride along side of you and if you ever need a push, I am here.

Kristen said...

I love it! Fabulous - and so true! Kristen

Heather said...

This is such a perfectly written piece, that has so much truth AND poetry in it, that I am certain I will return to it again and again. I want to get a picture of a bicycle and frame it for my house to remind me of this! Thank you!

Kristy said...

Beautiful! Beautifully written, I love it! I will be sharing this will my family and friends. :)

Mihaela said...

Here I am again :) reading again, and crying away. Again. I think you should post this on the WHS blog.

isdadoinks said...

@Mihaela: Thank you for the suggestion.... i just posted this on the wolfhirschhorn.org. I also contacted Dandelion ( a bay area magazine for parents of children with special needs) as they may want to publish it and hopefully the message reaches will be brought to more "biker" parents like us.

Hilary said...

Beautiful!!