Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why Would You Want To Do That????

I can't tell you how many times I've heard that question over the past couple of weeks....its pretty much become the standard question when I tell people I'm spending next week, my vacation, riding my bike from here to Lake Tahoe with my friends.

The question comes from friends, family, people I talk to in the deli, everyone except my riding friends think I'm either crazy or just plain stupid.

The unspoken question behind the question though has, at its foundation, as many different motivations as the answer does.
Its dangerous - what if you get hit by a car, what if you crash, what if you get lost, what if you run out of water, what if, what if, what if....
Its hard - why ride a bike for 5 days when you can drive there in 4 hours, there are lots of hills, do you know how far Tahoe is, its going to be hot, windy, cold, raining, etc, etc
Its not normal - why don't you relax on vacation - take 5 days and lay on the beach, go fishing, read a book, go to the movies, etc etc

My standard response is that "its my 50th I needed to do something to prove I'm not old" but that's not really true. I'm actually not one of those guys that is worried about his age. I don't need a corvette or a young girlfriend to make me feel young. I'm actually pretty comfortable being middle aged. I have an awesome wife, incredible kids, wonderful grandkids, a roof over my head, food on the table....who could really ask for anything more? ok, maybe a head full of hair but even that isn't too big a deal....

This past week, I've spent quite a bit of time pondering why I'm doing this and I believe that there really are a lot of reasons....none of which probably make any sense and most of which would provide an interesting project for the local psychologist....
  • Spending a week riding my bike is actually my idea of fun
  • I enjoy doing things that other people consider hard or stupid
  • I enjoy doing something that pushes me outside my comfort zone
  • I need adventure in my life
  • facing hardship enhances my ability to appreciate life
  • I get bored when life becomes "routine"
Granted, not all of my decisions have been smart but only a few have had almost seriously bad results. Like when I quit a really good job that paid well because I was bored and didn't feel "challenged" (burned through our entire savings before I wised up and got another job) or when I encouraged our group on a multi-day mountain bike trip to go off route because the fire roads were boring (someone crashed and we had to be rescued by some motorcyclists), or when in high school I tried to swim across a river and almost sent my parents into apoplectic shock while I was pushed downstream by the current....

Despite these few minor setbacks, in living my life I've come to realize that life really isn't supposed to be a nice safe journey to the retirement home with all my parts intact and in good working order. Its supposed to be an adventure where at the end I can hold my grandkids on my lap and explain how I got this scar or that bump and amaze them with the stories and enthrall them with the pictures I paint in their imaginations.....all the while enjoying the fact that I did and saw and tried when others were content just being....

And, on a grander scale than my own contentment Who knows, maybe even despite living in this scary, dangerous world they'll realize that life is about more than "stuff" and there are things more important than who has the highest score on the latest video game.
Maybe, just maybe I can be the motivation that convinces them to climb a mountain or go on a mission trip or even just finish college and make a difference in our world.....

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