Seven months after completing my life’s dream–a three-year, 25,811-mile bicycle journey around the planet–I began to recognize the life I’d returned home to for what it was: a flaming turd of boredom and self-torment.
I’d spent exactly thirty-four months on the road. There, I’d existed upon seemingly endless diet adventure and actualization.
Self-propelled through hundreds of cities, across a thousand landscapes, I’d immersed myself within an ever-changing set of cultures–all uniquely rich and exotic. Witnessing first hand the results of war, oppression, disease and starvation on the streets of Tibet, Nepal, India and Bangladesh, it wasn’t long before I rolled up my sleeves to lend a hand.
Then, after my soul had transcended a thousand life changing experiences, I returned home only to find most my friends and neighbors exactly where I’d left them three years previous; bathed in the same multi-colored light; staring blankly into that same soul-crushing box, as it stole precious moments of their life, minute after minute, hour after hour, night after night, until…until those moments would add into a lifetime
As I did, I recalled the words of Jack Keroauc from his book, “Windblown world.”
“The kind of lifetime most often observable in obituaries–the kind of life that can actually be summed up in two or three paragraphs–these lives must surely have been used as cheap coin by the deceased. A few hollow titles, a few “public services,”Â a medal, some property and means, a diploma for something–that’s what they leave for their children to mull over, if indeed their children are capable at all of mulling over anything in the heart of blind acquisitive days. My father’s life was so rich and so deep that I still spend my days absorbed in its details, which could fill a book. My father did not die blankly leaving life to be fulfilled, if at all, by his children. He fulfilled it, just as I want to fulfill it in my way, sincerely. ”
Quickly building a multi-media show, I began to draw crowds. IÂ roared against the herds in collective slumber, encouraging them to follow their passions vs. re-runs of Scooby-doo.
The sad truth was, that few could relate.
Many just hoped after three years of constant motion, that I’d gotten the travel bug out of my system. That I’d finally “settle down” into a what they considered a “normal life.”
There were only two problems with this:
1. I’ve never (not even once) been considered “normal.”
2. The phrase “settle down” (in my mind at least) was synonymous with the term “dirt nap.” (Think lilies and a headstones.)
And in this respect,I no longer fit in, and I can no longer deny it.
For me, true happiness came from a place of constant motion, constant change, constant growth…constant actualization. This usually took place atop a bike, loaded to the gills with camera and writing material, as I meander some out-of-the-way road in some faraway place.Â
The truth is, the road is no longer a place for me. It’s part of who I am.
This is not without consequence.
In fact It’s is hell on relationships.
I reckon it’s like trying to build a life with a nomadic sheepherder.
And so it came as no surprise, that after crash-landing a 5-month relationship, I did what any sane bicycle-tourist would do given the circumstances.
I started looking at maps.
I spent the following hours and days stuffed into an armchair at my local bookstore, piles of travel literature scattered around my feet like a chain-smoker’s butts.
My mind became a virtual 1:100,000 scale replica of Michelin’s finest cartography: Scotland, France, Italy, Switzerland, the Pyrenees, Provence, the Swiss and Italian Alps. And before long, I felt confident I could recall western Europe’s finest cycle-able villages, wine-regions, mountains, or lightly-trafficked “D” roads.
Then, one night, came the plan.
It happened while bathed in candlelight, after I happened upon one of Allen Ginsbergh’s travelogue-poems entitled “Wales Visitation.”
White fog lifting and falling on mountain brow
Trees moving in rivers of wind
The clouds arrive as if on a wave
Gigantic eddy lifting mist above
Teeming ferns exquisitely swayed along
a green crag glimpsed through minions
of glass and valley rain
Roar of the mountain winds
Slow sigh of the body
One being on the mountainside trembling
One being so balanced, so vast
That its softest breath moves every flower
In the stillness of the valley air
The great secret, is no secret…
Although words will fail to explain it, there was something within Ginsbergh’s words that acted as a catalyst of sorts.
And all at once I picked up the phone and dialed my close friend Tracey Milne in Aberdeen Scotland.
I told her I was unhappy. That I needed a place to decompress. That I needed a space that would spark my imagination again; where I could work on my book, without interuption, preferably in a place far from home.
Several days later she called to inform me that she’d wired the money for a plane ticket, and that her extra room was waiting for me as a quiet space to write for the next two months.
And so it is that I sit here now, within the walls of an old stone cottage in Northeastern Scotland, typing these words. With that, I prepare to spend my next three months abroad, writing, riding, growing, actualizing.
That and dispatch the occasional journal from the road.
And as I do, I recognize the return of that glowy-light within…that distinct something inside me I will simply call happiness. And although it is not always easy, and undeniably lonely at times, I also recognize my new-life for what it is–and has become.
A virtual rolling circus.
All I can say at this point is, be prepare to be entertained…