I have been back home now for about a week. I did not know how exhausted my body and mind were until I realized I have slept 12-14 hours a day since getting off the plane.
I am beginning to feel “normal ” which is amazing since I have never much been described this way. In fact quite the opposite…
My appetite is voracious, I am still in a hyper-metabolic state and will be so for about ten more days. Luckily I have had enough sense not to “pig out” and have lost two more pounds, a total of 12 for the entire trip. I know that in a short time my metabolism will rocket down and weight gain will be a real problem unless I am careful. Luckily for me there is another ride in 5 weeks, Washington DC to Pittsburgh, and I will need to keep low grade training in place.
My inner self is still mired deep in the ride, every night my dreams deal with aspects of the climbs in Washington State. Just last night I finally reached the last 60 miles of the trip and perhaps soon I will start dreaming of something else…donuts maybe?
As I think back on this summer, over and over again the concept of “Comfort Zones” keeps creeping back into my thoughts.
I suspect getting out of these zones may be a real key to “living life”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy family, a clean bed, a hot shower, a flush toilet, fresh food, and an opportunity to take naps just like everyone else…these are things along with many others that make up my “comfort zones”… perhaps the most important one I left out…”Good Health”.
I think now of the MS patients always in the background of the ride (sometimes in the forefront) and I think to my most uncomfortable times this summer…those being when I was unsure or uncertain as to what was about to take place with questions as to whether I could complete that day’s challenge.
This Uncertainty is perhaps the least comfortable part of the entire ride.
For MS patients…who often with grace accept their deficits and move on…it must be Hell living with the uncertainty of “what happens next?”. I suspect this is the hardest part of surviving this disease…the ultimate “No Comfort Zone”. The uncertain aspects of the trek are just a taste of what they live with every day of their lives. My hope for them is that they indeed have some “comfort zones”.
As for me, what have I gained from leaving the security of home?
People say I “get younger” every time I ride, this time someone was bold enough to say I gained 7 years. I know each time that I finish I feel more alive inside myself and at the same time somehow more accepting and tolerant of those around me. Differences seem to fade to non existence. Traversing this country from one end to the other allows for contact with hundreds of different people who I would never have encountered in my daily life. So too living with riders of different ages and backgrounds. What did I learn? That we are all much the same in our desires, aspirations, beliefs, values, needs, and abilities to survive.
Differences made out in the Media and Press are minuscule compared to all the rest.
We are just people trying to do our best. Our sameness is comforting in that there is much, much more good than bad to be found.
Some may ask for advice after all that I have learned…before I said “Go ride a bike and play kickball along the way”…I meant both of those things…in themselves they are frivolous activities but life is a bit too serious these days…thanks again to the Media and the Press.
I would also suggest a book to you…one I read three times over this summer. It will educate you, enlighten you, and for the better, strip away parts of your comfort zone. If you dare leave your safety net of beliefs read Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harai…it recently came out in paperback.
Read it slowly, underline or highlight the parts that jolt you, and keep an iPad or computer close by so you can read more about the subjects the author explores. Harari is a brilliant man and sometimes assumes we have a familiarity with subject materials he uses as examples to make his point.
But a warning again…read this book only if you are willing to leave your “comfort zone”.
So what happens now? Well, I get ready for the short ride of 330 mile as noted above. Next year I will ride one last time for the MS cause…from Florida to Maine.
And then it will be time to move on…the Alps of Italy are calling my name.
My sister says “God Lives There”. I think that she is right, at least my “God “ lives there…each of us with our own acceptance of the concept of the Supreme Being,..mine probably very similar to yours, Dear Reader.
I usually take on projects of multi year duration, becoming an MD, learning to play the violin, learning to compose music, mastering the Russian Language, and now near the end of a phase, becoming a long distance cyclist. On the horizon I see years of summers mountain trekking through Northern Italy where I suspect I will in fact be preparing to meet some day the Maker. Luckily for me, both Angel and Flossie speak Italian, but more importantly they are fluent in “Paradisese”
…lets hope that someday that’s where I’m headed…but if not I am even luckier since they also speak adequate “Purgatorese”
…sounds a little like Russian…I may be lacking in normality but I do prepare for future possibilities…
As for “Infernoese”?
…well neither they nor I could stand the Heat so I’ll try to behave as best I can my remaining days on this wonderful, blessed Earth….
Just so you know Cassie…My Soul does indeed have limits on being outside “Comfort Zones”…