Reflections of a journey

I've been back for almost six weeks now, and I am just starting to be able to come to terms with what I did, this journey across the country and back. I've been reluctant to do this last piece, but I've begun to feel the story unfinished. The rest of the trip was generally uneventful, but there were a couple of moving moments. Crossing the Rockies was definately a thrill. At 11,000 feet above sea level the clouds are just out of reach. I know if my arms were a little longer or my legs a little stronger I could have touched them. I went to Graceland, even though I'm not an Elvis fan. I am now. Even my last day of traveling had the feeling of an adventure, but for now that story will go unsaid.

It is hard to put into writing how I feel about my trip. For days afterward I had the feeling that I needed to get back on my bike and go somewhere, anywhere. Some nights I had nightmares, where I was still days and days away from home and I'd wake up and not recognize where I was. Astronauts go through periods of depression after they've been to space, because nothing else compares, and I feel that on a much smaller scale I can relate. Escape from reality was only a mile away, the next one I traveled, and if I didn't like that mile, I'd do another. When I came back home I found the things that used to bother me quite often didn't anymore, but some new things made their presence felt, and in general, I just don't look at things the same way.

If we travel five miles into the atmosphere we die of asphyxiation. Five miles isn't one percent of what I did, or even one tenth of one percent. It is five minutes of six weeks, five minutes of a lifetime of traveling, five minutes across a land mass that is only a small part of this planet, just a tiny, tiny distance, but I can't travel five miles up, not on my bike.

Scale. It is all about scale. The land is staggeringly huge, beyond comprehension to me, but everywhere I went people had their own worlds, no bigger than my own. There are millions and millions of people in this country and I saw a lot of them, but I don't have any more friends than I did when I started (although I know a few of them better). It is a huge world, but our worlds are very, very small. The typification of self-consciousness is that we have no ability to empathize with that which is not directly affecting us. We see ourselves, but we don't see beyond that. Some call it short-sightedness, or lack of vision, and some may have more distant personal horizons than others, but we all suffer from some sort of limit to our prescience. If you see a motorcyclist with traveling gear on, do you think of his travels? Do you wonder what he is experiencing? Can you feel what he is experiencing? It wasn't until I was in the Central Valley of California that I realized I was passing through everybody else's world. I had to see people killing themselves in the heat, doing things I see done regularly where I live, for me to connect with the idea that everywhere it is the same, only the faces have changed.

Millions and millions of worlds, each distant and remote from the next, all not really that different. We eat, we sleep, we get by until the next day. Some pursue each new day, some run from it. Been thinking about doing something that you think would be neat but deep down it scares you? Do it. Do it, do it, do it. Be alive.

The reward for the trip was the the trip itself, in the discovery of internal strength I didn't know I had, in the ability to share my experiences with others and give them pleasure in their vicarious thoughts, and in the expansion of my personal horizons. I'll take the confusion of emotions, the soaring pride and the bewildering humbleness, the loneliness of the solitude not just during the time when I was riding but with the life experience I did alone, the comfort of being secure by myself and with myself, the need to be still and the need to keep moving, I'll take it all. I feel alive!

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