Every Journey Has an End... Or Does It?
So I'm sitting in my room back at home, watching the temperature climb outside as the summer morning begins to heat things up. Downstairs my mom is brewing coffee while my dad continues to try and fix our dishwasher, calling out to the world, "It's always something!"
It's been a week since we touched the Atlantic Ocean, and life has resumed it's natural course. Now that my goal of riding across the country has ended, I look to the future. My father and I have done something that few people would even think of attempting. When we tell other people what we accomplished together, they always have that same smile and nod, with a look on their faces like "these guys have lost their minds!"
Maybe we are a little crazy, but I'll take a little crazy any day just to keep things interesting.
Yesterday was my birthday, and as I received calls from friends and family, checked and rechecked my Facebook for continued well-wishes from old friends and new ones, I thought about my life as a whole and how it has led up to this point. There have been struggles, triumphs, pitfalls and staggering climbs, both literal and figurative. But I look back on it all and feel content in the knowledge that it all led me to this place in time.
For most of my adult life, I struggled to find my place in the world. I sought out answers to questions that never seemed ready to reveal themselves no matter what I did, or what path I chose to take. As I sat on my bed and looked around at my room, thinking of everyone I've met on this incredible journey, and all of the people I've encountered throughout my life who've helped me along whenever I felt like throwing in the towel. Every one of them has a place in my mind and heart, especially my father who made all of this possible.
But one of them in particular stood out while I wrote this article. I'd like to share his story briefly.
Before leaving our group, one of our fellow cyclists gave a farewell speech that moved us all in a profound way. He couldn't make it to our official banquet because he had an event of his own to attend for the charity organization he had been riding for. His name is Barry Haarde, and he is one of the most remarkable people I've had the pleasure to meet along this ride.
That's really saying something, considering that this is out of a group of truly remarkable people.
Last year he became the first person with hemophilia to cross the country by bicycle. During his ride, he raised over 45,000 dollars in charitable donations for medicine for those over-sea's afflicted with hemophilia and could not otherwise afford the medications to aid them in their afflictions.
Then, he turned right around and did it a second time with us this April, raising just around 35,000 dollars for the same cause. Throughout the ride, his constant positive outlook on life and belief in things that can be achieved with the right mind-set, is one of the reasons I continued to push on during this ride, even when I felt like I couldn't go another foot, let alone another hundred miles. He always had a good joke ready when I was down, or just rode with me in silence when he knew that I just needed someone to ride with.
During his farewell speech, he said that at one point or another in life, we all need help, whether we ask for it or not. There will be moments when it is not enough to simply live for yourself, but for others as well. I thought about those words and realized how much of an impact this statement resonated within me as I heard them again in my room while sitting on my bed.
I have always been the kind of person who got things done on my own. If there was a problem, I was going to fix it by myself. There was no obstacle I couldn't overcome if I just dug deep enough and worked hard. In college, when I began to struggle with the stresses of classes and coming to terms with my course in life, I refused to seek help. In my mind I believed that admitting to have strayed from my path was to admit a sign of failure in my character, a flaw in my design. Instead, I tried fix the problem alone in my own stubborn way.
As Barry spoke I looked around the room at the people who had gone this incredible distance with my father and I. We had started out as total strangers, and together we accomplished an amazing feat with the support and encouragement in our group. I realized how much my perspective had changed of what is possible in life and what can be achieved with the right mindset. I looked over at my father and realized that he was willing to go this distance with me no matter what, and would never give up to help me achieve my dreams, whatever they might turn out to be.
For me, this journey was never really about the ride itself, but what it represented. It was about coming back to myself and rediscovering my values while preparing for my next step in life. I was able to push myself beyond the limits of what I thought was possible because I was surrounded by people who shared that same outlook. That is the lesson my father had been trying to teach me, and that is the perspective I will keep with me and hopefully impart on my own son or daughter when the time comes.
I'd like to thank my mom for helping me make this blog possible, Lorraine Ash for helping me get my story out as well as the other media establishments who shared an interest in my journey. Thank you dad for this incredible opportunity, and for never giving up on your sons even when we turn your hair a little grayer. I'd like to thank all of my friends, who never gave up on me as well even when I grew a little difficult to deal with at times. And thank all of you for reading along and sharing in this adventure. Your support and encouragement through your emails and texts make all the difference, and I hope that we all got to leave it on the road together.
P.S. On a side note, although the ride has finished, the journey never ends. I will be continuing to post my thoughts and activities as I on my journey in life, and as long as I continue to maintain my two year membership with GoDaddy.com! - Also Keep Your Eyes Open As I Bring the Pen to the Paper and Write My Book - Leaving It On the Road - the novel!