It took 31 days and a whole lot of bacon, but I finally went as far north as I could without getting arrested. The border area in Blaine, WA, was empty, so I pedaled along one of the border entry queues for a short ways, snapped a picture, then turned around.
It was like kissing the Wailing Wall without kissing it and without quite getting to the wall.
Then I pedaled into Blaine, had coffee, chatted with a guy and his wife from Tacoma, and went campsite hunting. My mind wasn’t blank, but it wasn’t exactly cluttered.
Riding your bike at age 56 from LA to the Canadian border in 31 days is hardly a monumental feat of any kind. Randonneurs knock out Paris-Brest-Paris in 90 hours, more than 700 miles of furious riding. What I just did takes some perseverance, perhaps, but in the end it was nothing more than a series of 55-mile bike rides. Would it have been easier stopping at motels and eating at restaurants?
But I wouldn’t have met the same people or felt so exposed. I wouldn’t have been the beneficiary of the hard-earned wisdom of so many strangers. I wouldn’t have confronted The Alone so nakedly. I wouldn’t have had true friends show up with spare batteries, bacon, spare propane, blueberries, and invitations to come stay for a shower or a day.
Most of all, I wouldn’t have gotten to cross the threshold into The New. One piece of wisdom related to that is a comment I heard last night, a comment about making decisions based on fear or making them based on love. I didn’t probe much, but I thought I understood the gist of it. Acting based on the one is much better than acting based on the other.
For me, though, that’s not the dichotomy. It’s acting based on fear versus acting based on non-fear. Based on security.
Did I do that thing because I was afraid of what might happen if I didn’t? Or did I do it because I was secure that it was the right thing to do, and if unsure, did I do it because I was secure that I could bear the outcome?
These daily bike rides have been packed with choices. Go? Quit? Shorter? Longer? Haagen-Dasz? Ben & Jerry’s? Take the kind invitation? Tough it out? Follow my head? Follow my pocketbook? Follow my heart?
There are right answers, you just don’t know what they are, often, until later, or even until much later, or even until never. So if you decided out of security, you’ll travel well while awaiting the denouement. If you decided out of fear? Then no matter how it turns out, you’re scared and unable to live in the pedal stroke.
I didn’t see it before, but now I think that living there, in the pedal stroke, is a mighty fine place to dwell.
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