I was Skyping with some kids in Birmingham, Alabama the other day. A little girl with a cute button nose positioned herself in front of the camera and said, “My name is Drew and I want to know if it’s fun – what you’re doing?”
For a moment I didn’t quite know how to respond. Is it fun? Is it fun grinding up hills at 4 kph? Is it fun when the winds are so strong we feel like we’re riding bucking broncs in a rodeo? Is it fun when the air is so cold our fingers feel like they’ll freeze and fall off our hands like icicles crashing to the ground or when it’s so hot we could fill buckets with our sweat? Is it fun when a cold rain is falling and we’re pedaling furiously to try and outrun it?
Is it fun?
Then I looked into the camera and smiled at Drew and said, “Most of the time it’s fun. Most of the time we’re like little kids riding our bikes around the neighborhood. We’ve got the sun on our faces and the wind in our hair and we’re seeing the world in the best way possible. We get to cycle through tiny little villages and see life as it really is rather than seeing it through a glass filter. We’re not encased in a metal cage – we’re out in the real deal. Most of the time, it’s great fun.
“But there are other times when it’s not fun. There are times when it’s hard – really, really hard. There are times when it’s so hard I feel like I can’t take another step and feel like I’ll collapse to the ground right here but know that if I don’t push on I could quite literally die. There are times when our journey is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and it’s not fun at all.
“But even those hard times are wonderful. When I look back on those hard times I can see how much I grew or the lessons that I learned. Those are the times wonderful memories are made – the times when the four of us all jumped in with every strength we had and worked together to get our entire family through.
“Living your dream won’t always be easy or fun,” I told the kids, “but it will always be wonderful. When you truly make the decision to live your dream and do your big thing, you’ll forge ahead even in the hard times.
“But you know, Drew – that’s how life is. Life is mostly fun. Most of the days, we wake up in the morning and look forward to the day that’s coming. Most of the days we’ll slide through whatever we have to do that day and all will be well and life will be fun. But there are other days that are most definitely not fun. There are days that are tougher than a bed of nails. There are days when anything that can go wrong does go wrong and there are days when we think we can’t handle one more day of this.
“But we can’t quit. We can’t just throw up our hands and say, ‘I’m done with life! This isn’t fun!’ We don’t say that because we know – deep down inside of us we know things will be get better. We know that, if we just press forward, things will turn around and the sun with come out again. We’ll reach the end of that hill or the wind will stop howling. Life will be fun again – someday.”
And now, I’m telling myself that. I was reading one of the comments on yesterday’s blog post about how the fun had gone out of their journey and they called it off. I think that’s the key – when the fun is gone, it’s time to call it quits.
But how long do we wait? There have been plenty of days that weren’t fun. The day in Guatemala when both kids had diarrhea and we were pushing our bikes up an outrageously steep, dusty hill and our bodies were covered with mud wasn’t very fun. Or when Davy and I were being chased by a bear – that wasn’t very fun either. It wasn’t fun battling headwinds along the Peruvian coast day after day after day – for 1500 miles.
So the question then becomes – is this just a passing thing, or has the fun truly gone out of our journey? How do we know?
At this point, we’ll certainly push on. We are only a few days away from the Lake District and have heard such wonderful stories about that area. We’ll hope that things turn around and the fun comes back into our journey. Besides – there is good chocolate in Bariloche 400 km away.
We’ve opted to take another day off here in Zapala, thinking that maybe we were just physically exhausted and another day of rest will help. I think that was wise – it’s only 9:00 in the morning and I’m already feeling more positive about everything. Maybe that’s a ll we needed…