I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff – about to throw myself off into the abyss below. No safety net, no idea how far down, no nothing. Just jump, and hope like hell that someone reaches out His hand and catches us.
I’m not sure why I feel this way – this certainly isn’t the first time I’ve taken off for an extended trip.
In 1987 I filled out all the paperwork involved to leave the Peace Corps, pocketed the money they handed me, and headed south. For the next seven months I wandered in Central and South America – and never once felt the uncertainty I feel now. Maybe it’s because I was young and foolish, footloose and fancy-free.
A few years later, in 1990, I did it again. That time I quit my job and boarded a plane with a complete stranger to spend a year biking the Indian Subcontinent with a man I didn’t even know. I arrived into Pakistan with little more than a bike, a sleeping bag, and my dreams. A year later I returned to the USA and married that man.
I waited quite a few years before doing it a third time. In 2006 John and I quit our jobs yet again – to cycle around the USA and Mexico with our boys. Even though that was perhaps the most hare-brained scheme we had dreamed up to date, I still wasn’t as nervous as I am now.
One would think that, with all those extended journeys under my belt, I would be a pro at this. The truth of the matter, however, is that I’m scared spitless right now. I’m scared something will go wrong on the flight up to Prudhoe Bay – a piece of luggage will get lost or a bike will arrive damaged. I’m scared this year here in Boise has changed us in some way and we can’t do this any more. But mostly I’m scared that maybe, just maybe, it won’t be as magical as I think it will be.
We made a decision a long time ago that we would call it all off if it ceases to fun at any point. For us, bicycle touring is about fun – and if we can no longer say it is, we’ll stop. This journey isn’t about a goal, it’s not about “getting there” – it’s about the process of getting there. We’re headed out to explore – and all indications show that it will be a fabulous experience. But what if it’s not? Then what?
No, I’m not concerned about “failing” – not at all. In this endeavor, there is no such thing as failure. Even if we were to call it all off tomorrow, it wouldn’t be a failure. We’ve learned and grown from each and every step of our journey so far, and we can never lose that now.
But I’m scared that it just won’t be fun. Maybe I’m being irrational. Maybe I’m not looking at reality. Touring by bike has always been wonderful in the past and I see no reason for it not to be this time – but I still feel like I’m jumping off that cliff. I’m just hoping and praying that God will reach out His hand and hold us up.