I had the good fortune to be able to bike from Pensacola, FL to New Orleans, LA with Louis last week as part of his “Journey Across Our America” ride. What follow are some thoughts that I’m digesting about/after the trip.
Louis has graciously offered/suggested I submit a “guest blogspot” and so while the idea of having my writing and thoughts out on the internet is a bit daunting, here it goes. — Lisa
Overall the biggest theme that emerged for me revolves around balance and perhaps imbalance needed to complete such a trip. Here are a few examples:
*Balancing trust/faith with risk taking;
*Balancing moving with staying put and engaging;
*Balancing being connected with others and being alone;
A few things that might not be as balanced or as proportional for many of us in the privileged life of stability:
*The extraordinary amount of patience and flexibility it takes when you do not know where you are going to sleep that night, eat your next meal, if you are going to be able to fix the broken bike part or what the heck to do if you can’t and just needing to stick with it and see it through because que mas se puede hacer? —you have to figure it out and you have to stick it out.
*The extraordinary strength-physically, mentally and emotionally it takes to commit, re-commit and execute such a trip. Punto. Again and again.
*The vulnerability it takes to commit to such a trip—and then to have it out on the internet for the world to know about it! (Thus my trepidation to write this piece, but part of why I wanted to ride was to help lighten the load, offer some support during a difficult stretch and follow through with a commitment to a friendship, so if he’s going to put his stuff out there, then for me to follow through on trying to understand/share a bit of the experience, I’ll do my best!)
I think the title, Journey Across Our America is really a very fitting and telling title—Journey to me conveys something much deeper and far reaching than a Trip. Across-need we say more about that? And the Our America part: I thought about that Our America part more than once as I was peddling across the Gulf area. I was embarrassingly surprised to see and understand a bit better about how Katrina had impacted such a large part of the Gulf area—not just New Orleans. I was drawn to and impacted at the consequences of the storm and the need to re-build so much of area and how that impacts not just the local area, but all of us. For me in Minnesota now, it seems harder, less tangible, but the whole thing about an injury to one is an injury to all struck home with me as it was obvious that so many fellow compatriots suffered and are trying to re-build. What is my responsibility to them and how to I exercise that from Minnesota? How does one claim and assert one’s rights as a resident and citizen-national citizenship or cultural citizenship, within an area or region not your own? How does one decide to claim or not claim being part of a larger identity—family, community, region, country? What the heck keeps this country together and what keeps us apart/separated? Are we by and large more together or more apart as folks living under the same roof?
Finally, I was excited about being in shape—it was FUN to ride, great to feel strong and capable, to have a bike in good working order and my body in good working order (I was humbly reminded by the universe, however, that this is not a given as I needed to make an urgent stop at the local biker bar and b-line it for the restrooms one afternoon).
That sense of confidence and joy combined with intense family history of bike injuries, death and near-death experiences on two wheelers got me pondering about the risk, trust and faith mentioned earlier. Who has a right to do this? Do some people get injured for some reason under the sun and others not? Ultimately, I believe in free will in our lives, am grateful for the privilege and choices that I have had and have to live the life that I do.
And I thank the universe for the opportunity, my sister for helping to gear me up and Louis for letting join him for a piece of the road on his Journey Across Our America.