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Moving The World?

Last week I drafted a post that talked about how contentment and future questions and all that stuff was on hold as with only a couple weeks left everything was simple – there was only one thing left to do. Then I backtracked because approaching the finish, doubts and questions are actually churning away more than they ever have. This is one of those posts where I held off and held off and didn’t push the button. Wasn’t sure why. Then this video came along ↧ (link), and Neil Gaiman sums up the fear:

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

So let’s try it.


“It reaffirmed that I could do anything I put my 100 percent effort into. When I got back, I felt like I could move the world.”

I read this article months ago straight after finishing the section from Florida to California. It’s about Jackie Loza’s ride down the West Coast of the US. She was let go from her job and her trip was a way to figure out the next move.* And because of that it was more than a bike trip – it was a time that real decisions were made. Decisions that influenced where she is right now.

After the ride she described feeling like she could “move the world”. You know when you read something or watch something or hear something and can’t get it out of your head? I’ve thought about that article ever since. Finishing the ride across the southern tier, I could totally relate to the moving the world thing. You get into trouble or have a bad day, you fix it. At the end of each day you know it’s been a good day. That adds up and over time really makes you think that much bigger things are possible and that hurdles are made for crushing.

To end the trip there maybe would have been ‘the sensible option’. It would have been a euphoric end, all highs. The cross country trip had been a success. Mountains would have been quivering at the thought of getting moved. Just kidding. But of course that stretch marked a small part of this overall journey. Reaching the Pacific, I thought – if you feel this bold / upbeat after three months, jeez, imagine what it will be like after 6 or 9. This is gonna be rad.

But it’s not like a 45 degree graph where the good keeps rising. It rose to 90 days and then the ruler stopped working or the drawer got bored and decided to start a squiggle-spree. It hits the top of the page then the bottom, bottom then top. As the weeks and months go on you go from empowerment / bring it on, to fuck this / what a loser, back to mountain moving / boulder lifting in this bizarre cycle of being confident and determined, to having no confidence and wanting to hide in a cave for 10 years, back to being stoked.

I could relate to Jackie using the trip as a vehicle to make big decisions. Over time, especially after a long day pedalling, your mind clears and you begin to slot pieces together. If I do x then maybe y will become a possibility.

In those high ‘move the world’ moments everything seems amazing, really like anything is possible. Like the cards on the table going forward shine more than they ever have before. Nothing is intimidating.

And then on the down days I’ve felt literally sick about time spent away, debt and potential irresponsibility (the trip was originally meant to be 6-9 months), and whether there were opportunities left behind. But so many of the people I’ve spoken to started by going all in and taking a shot, taking a risk in the hope that opportunities down the line would bring more value than staying still. I should remember to cling on to that.

I haven’t got the faintest idea what happens next. It’s kind of wide open. Some days that’s a scary thing, and other days it’s really invigorating, despite the questions that sometimes kick in.

But we all have doubts – whether what we’re doing is what we should really be doing. That’s natural. And those questions are good, because they make you think and possibly change.

The cliche’s are true – journeys like this do open your eyes. In tough ways and in the best ways.

My head’s all over the place at the moment, processing the end of a bizarre year. How squiggly can a graph get in five days?

Today, the thought of finishing this thing is strangely nerve wracking. There’s an anxiety there for sure.

Tomorrow might be completely different – it has a tendency to be. Holla’ at ya from NYC. Here we go. [UPDATE: THE TRIP IS COMPLETE!]

* “Overall, people who do these trips are people who are at a turning point in their lives. Or, they have a lot of spare time, which usually means one thing… They are involved in some challenge in their lives that they want to overcome… When I look at the last few years, I’ve heard stories of people’s trials and tribulations, of people reinventing themselves.” Winona Bateman, of the Adventure Cycling Association.

** Wanna shoot the S about work/projects/publishing?

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6 comments on this post

  1. Tom Graham says:

    My wife and I are retiring December 31st. She has been making tracker pipe organs with a man in a shop here in Cold Spring, MN. I will retire as a State Farm insurance agent, a business started from scratch twenty-six years ago. We are so full of excitement as this stretch of the journey comes to an end and all kinds of possibility opens in front of us. We both enjoy bicycle riding and have purchased two new folding bicycles to take along on this first winter of being able to drive south and “play” for the winter along the Gulf Coast. What we pursue or channel our energies into next will unfold.

    You have a huge leg of your journey ending and a new one opening up for you. I’m confident you’ll do just fine. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your tale, and in a small way helping you to complete it. But it was your determination, muscles & sinew that hauled your butt up the hills,across the high prairie and into the wind. I wish you every success in your future. May the wind be at your back….mostly.

    Tom a morning kitchen chair co-pilot

  2. Mike Cross says:

    Our “chance” encounter on the east side of St. Catharines has proved to be a wonderful experience for Heather & me. Your staying with us and the frankness with which you answered our questions about your trip, the blog etc (answering the same questions for 1000s of times throughout N.America is epic in itself) gave us a great, positive and encouraging story to tell our friends, co-workers and extended family. The one single thread I’m seeing in all of it is that people smile spontaneously when they hear of your journey and the personal ‘mission’ that accompanied you and the bike. We continuing to think of you fondly as you complete your last leg to “The Big Apple.

  3. Barb Barna says:

    Hi Dave,
    Exciting post. I have always told my kids that everything we do in life is a stepping stone to the next thing. It may not even seem like it at the time, but it will be.
    I started my quilting business with no formal business plan, just a spiral notebook with a list of things to do to get there. We took a second mortgage on our house to buy the equipment. It has all worked out.
    I have been like Tom, cheering you along from the sidelines. Things will happen when you get back that will guide you along in the right direction. Best wishes for all that is to come.
    Barb and Les.

  4. Peter Gold says:


    This is the start of an amazing journey which will only happen because of what you DID rather than what you DIDN’T. We are a long time dead but you are living my friend. You know I’ve done some similar stuff and it was the making of me. Look back and appreciate the progress you have made, look forward to yet more.

    Hope we get time for a beer when you get back to blightly; there’s room for you here anytime.


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