Struggle of the Moment.

The bike is cleaned and tuned. The down sleeping bag and coat are washed and fluffed. I am rested and relaxed. Seemingly, I could be ready to depart Seattle in short time. I can’t decide to go, and I can’t decide to stay. The longer I linger, the more I can adjust, prepare, plan, learn, write, and read before heading back out on the road. The sooner I depart, the quicker the adventure in Latin America begins. Am I afraid to get to Mexico? Does the solo road ahead intimidate me? I am struggling with being stationary, but have little desire to rush headfirst into the wet northwest fall. There are so many things I wish to do with my trip and my time, but very little gets done while on the road (with the obvious exception of pedal progress south). This is where the appeal of sitting still comes from; time to work on Spanish, time to do additional research, time to work on photos, time to work on essays and writing.
My relaxed schedule through the great North was just what I needed to get interested and excited about a life on a bike. But, it has inherent risks associated with it. A slower schedule means a longer time frame for getting south and has me running into the Patagonian winter. Second, a slower schedule places my already meager budget in even greater strain. Yet, the reason for this trip is, and has been, to pedal my way south with the ability to move at whatever pace I am comfortable with and the freedom to stop and smell the flowers whenever I wish. I committed to the bike as my mode of transportation for this very reason. Part of my rudimentary plan was to stop in the places that intrigued me, to focus some time and effort on the place and its people either through the lens, or on the page. This was to encourage, to some extent, a level of immersion in the cultures and places I am passing through in an attempt to make it less about the movement and more about the locations.
If experiencing life in the Americas is my backdrop, at what pace does that happen? Or, more to the point, at what point are you moving too quick for any meaningful experiences? Perhaps, just because I decided to move at a biker’s pace, this is all a moot discussion and it would be impossible for me to move too fast and be too closed off. Before this trip I would certainly have thought that to be true. I am, whether I like it or not, breathing and tasting the air of every mile and seeing and hearing the unique sounds of each place. Yet, as I have made my way south through Alaska and Canada I have discovered that it is entirely possible to move down the road at 6 mph and not be aware of anything around you.
Ultimately, this decision to stay or go paints an accurate picture of the life I have currently chosen to follow. I can decide to stay for another week or two where I am comfortable and welcome, working on what I wish and following the inspiration of the moment. Or, I can decide to proceed on my southward bike adventure. It isn’t a rock and a hard place decision, but rather more like I am pinned between a fleece wrapped bean bag and a down stuffed pillow.

2 Responses to “Struggle of the Moment.”

  1. Justin Smith says:

    Thanks so much Caitlyn. I was concerned when writing that it would appear I was complaining or frustrated or not enjoying my situation, which, of course, is not my attitude. I am happy and having fun, just working through the many changing dynamics of my life on the road.

  2. Caitlyn says:

    I remember my dad gave me a card when I was deciding what college to go to that read “do not anguish over past decisions.”I think the Buddhists (and my dad) have it right that letting go of anguish is key (albeit difficult). Decisions come and go, time is a weird thing, and all we ever really have is this moment, you know? I just read The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, which talks about that a lot. I’d recommend it regardless of whether you decide to rest your head on the fleece-wrapped bean bag or the down-filled pillow. 🙂

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