It's Sunday 29 December. This means that I am now less than two weeks away from my embarkation on my next adventure. Thirteen days more and I will once again leave England after yet another short stay, a stay that is either too long or too short - I can never quite decide which - and I'll head off to New Zealand to begin my cycle tour adventure. In less than three weeks, I should be on the road, spinning those pedals that turn the cranks that turn the wheels, that will speed me along the roads. Exciting isn't it? A dream realised. Surely this is the epitome of what life is all about. Throwing oneself into the unknown and the challenge of never being sure of what each day will bring. It does not matter how many times I have done this now, each time the departure date approaches, and for some reason that tick to thirteen days seems to be the event trigger more than any other, I begin to grow concerned, I start to fret about what it is that I am doing, and why I am going to do it.
I believe it is the same for everyone. No matter what they will tell you, no matter how gung-ho and cock sure they appear to be, I have little doubt that underneath there lies a swirling, tumultuous flow of worry, a constant and raging stream of concerns, that are held in check only by the dam of outer calmness. Columbus, Cook, Scott, Shackleton, Earhart, Hilary, Armstrong (of the Neil variety), Yeager, Baumgartner and any one else you may wish to include in such exulted company, I can guarantee that although they may have appeared to be the perfect picture of composed, mill pond surface calmness, below that exterior lurked the questions, the fears, the doubts, and the constant nagging of why am I doing this and what have I gotten myself into?
It's only natural. I know that. I also know that it is going to be okay. My own adventure is nothing compared to some, but it is my own adventure, my own decision to step outside of my comfort zone, to go off in exploration and in search, to confront my fears, to extend myself, to find out who I am, to know what mettle lurks under my flesh. No matter how seemingly small and insignificant your own adventure may appear to some, to the person at the centre of that story, it is the greatest undertaking in the history of humanity. Imagine for a moment a person who suffers from acute agoraphobia. To this person, even opening the front door of their house can seem the most daunting decision to take, let alone stepping across the threshold and leaving the secure confines of their home.
Road To Nowhere by Talking Heads has just begun to play on the sound system of cafe. Is it coincidence that I happen to love this song? Doesn't road to nowhere sum up my journey, all of our journeys? We're walking our paths, thinking that we are headed some place special, striving to get to a certain point, mulling over decisions that we believe to be of the utmost importance, but in reality, we're all headed to exactly the same place, no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try. That may lead you to ask, well then, why bother at all? And the answer to that my friend is that it is the journey that is the making, it is the space between two places and the manner in which we cross that space that counts. It is that crossing between points that generates experiences and memories and those are the very things that define us, that change us, that allow us to discover who we are, who we were truly meant to be. It is the crossing of this distance, no matter how great, no matter how small, that reveals our inner truth and shows us the true path.
Oddly enough, the thought generated by that song has answered the questions hasn't it? What did I get myself into and why have I gotten myself into it? Answer: because if I do not, then I will never know my answer. If I do not, I will never grow my soul. If I do not, I will never experience the magic that is created when a person goes off in search of adventure and daring. If I do not, I will reach the end of my days and I will wonder what could have been. If I do not, I will be left with a regret, knowing full well that I had the means necessary to achieve my dreams and I chose an early death instead. And why would anyone chose an early death when there is so much life out there, within your grasp, when all you have to do is to stretch out an arm, reach out with your finger tips and grab a hold? I choose to grasp onto life. I choose to see the miracles and the magic of a life lived. And just as Renton said at the end of Trainspotting, "Choose life." Amen Renton, amen.