How? How did I end up here?
I’ve been pondering that thought for a while now. I mean, how did I – a normal, ordinary, everyday wife, mother, and schoolteacher – end up pedaling 20,000 miles with my children on a quest for a world record?
The short answer to that question is easy. We spent all last year diligently planning and preparing to put our “normal” life on hold for a while. We quit our jobs. We fixed up the house so we could rent it out. We organized our finances so we could access our money from anywhere in the world. We bought new bikes and put a mountain of gear together. Yes – it was a frantic, hectic dash to the airport, but that’s the easy part to answer.
The bigger question is how did I truly end up at the northern edge of the world with my husband and kids – about to pedal my way to the southern end? I think the answer to that question lies in every moment of my life, every experience I’ve lived, and every decision I’ve made.
Two years ago, I never would have dreamed that I would end up doing this. And yet – all those things I’ve done during my 48 years on this planet all contributed to who I am and what I’ve become. They all worked together in some mysterious way to create the puzzle of my life – the final picture of which is still emerging.
My mom used to always talk about “entering a new chapter of my life”. I like to think of them all as being pieces of a giant jigsaw puzzle. My trip to Mexico with my parents when I was sixteen was a piece. A mission trip to India during my college days became another. Being caught in a blizzard on the Platte River in Colorado… Peace Corps… Teaching on the Navajo Reservation… Biking in Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bangladesh… Marrying John… Moving to Egypt… Then on to Ethiopia… Parenthood… Each new life experience added another piece to the puzzle and the picture started to emerge.
And so it was that I found myself up there on the Arctic Ocean with the skills and experiences I needed to pull this one off. It’s like each time I got lost in yet another country provided me with another piece. Each hill I managed to climb filled in another part of the puzzle.
Don’t get me wrong – my puzzle is far from complete. This journey, itself, is yet another piece in the puzzle of my life. I won’t know the final picture until my life is complete, and even then it may not be truly completed. But as I look back on all the various adventures and misadventures I’ve lived through so far, I can see how each one contributed to who I am today. For better or worse, every single one of those experiences has contributed to this journey.
So – what are you doing these days? What pieces are you adding to your puzzle? Are the pieces you are creating today the pieces you want to add?
I’ve been following along with Jack, a highly-paid attorney, as he makes the transition to a life more simple. He finally realized the pieces he was adding to his puzzle were not the pieces he wanted to add – and made a conscious decision to change that. Yes – all those pieces he’s created are a part of his overall picture, but it’s exciting to watch him make an effort to carve out a different set of pieces to set in motion a different picture.
I look back on my life and the picture that’s emerging and am happy with what I’m seeing. Are you? If not – what are you doing to change that?