Sorry guys,” I apologized as I handed my sons a bag of potato chips and a can of ranch dip. “This is all I have for breakfast.” Their eyes lit up, not quite believing that their mother, the one who worships all things good and natural and organic, would hand them a bag of chips for their morning meal. They hungrily dove in before I could change my mind. Changing my mind, however, was not an option. I had no other food to give them.
Eastern Oregon has a special charm all its own, but an abundance of stores is not one of them. We learned that the hard way – by eating Cheetos for breakfast. It was 2006, merely a few weeks into our first big family adventure on two wheels. I hesitate to call our vehicles bicycles; we were more like a rolling wagon train than anything else. With one bicycle built for three and another single bike, both pulling trailers, we were a sight to see. Tents, sleeping bags, stoves, and clothes piled high on both machines rendered us more like pioneers traveling west in covered wagons than modern-day bicyclists.
One would think that any self-respecting parents with a lick of sense would choose some other destination than Eastern Oregon to take their children on their first bicycle tour, but I guess John and I don’t fall into that category. The whole idea of intentional lifestyle design was pretty darn new to us.
We were determined to see our country with our bikes. And our home in Boise was as good a place to start as any, or so we thought. We pedaled out of our driveway with a whole year stretching before us like a vast prairie of time. Within a few days we found ourselves in eastern Oregon with the desert stretching before us for miles and miles and miles, with nothing but acre after acre of sage brush.
“This is the life,” exclaimed a ranch hand as he swept his arm around to show off his humble abode. “I wouldn’t give this up for anything.”
I looked around and thought, “Yep! It’s the life all right. A tumble-down shack in the middle of dusty nowhere. That’s the life alright!”
“My wife and I have been here five years now. Wouldn’t trade it for all the gold in Midas’ chest,” explained the ranch hand we met when we knocked on his door to beg for water. “I’m convinced Dewey is heaven on Earth. I used to be a marketing exec for a manufacturing plant in Portland, but somewhere along the way my wife and I decided the long hours and stress just wasn’t worth it. People thought we were nuts – selling our forty acre plot of land and huge house in the city and moving out here to be ranch hands. But we’re convinced this is God’s country pure and simple. We’re living our dream – and that’s a good place to be.”
That ranch hand consciously chose his life. He realized that, for many years, his life had chosen him and he just went along for the ride, but one day realized what was wrong with the picture.
That’s exactly how it happened for me and John as well. Teaching was good to us, but it wasn’t our passion. A profession, for sure. A good profession, and one that afforded us many opportunities. But in many ways, teaching had chosen us and, when we worked up the courage to take a step back and look at our lives honestly, we made the decision to choose a different life.
So where are you? Has your life chosen you? Or have you chosen your life? Don’t settle for less than your passion.