Thursday, April 23, 2009

From the library of Paul Smith's College, there is a lovely view of lake and forest and presumably of mountains beyond. On this April morning, however, I can only verify the water and the woods because the clouds spitting rain and snow are keeping distant objects obscured. A perfect time to pause. And reflect. I find myself thinking about this current endeavor and a similar though different trip undertaken exactly 10 years ago.

When I was 19, I departed Charleston, South Carolina with a loaded bicycle and a plan to pedal it across a continent. I ate, slept and pedaled my way to 20 years old, then kept going across Texas and the Southwest. Although people who passed in their trucks and cars saw only a solitary cyclist, I was reluctant to say yes when asked if I was going alone. Despite my original plan of camping out every night, so many total strangers shared their meals and homes with me that in over two months of cycling, I only slept outside four times.

Since leaving White River Junction, Vermont, I have once again ridden a bike into a new decade, and I am once again overwhelmed by kindness. Our team has been graciously hosted at every stop along the way. When given the chance, most people like to help one another. It is true in Montpelier, Vermont, Montpelier, France, Gurdon, Arkansas, and Gao'an, China. In 1999, people who had just opened their homes to a strange-looking unsmall young man would look up at me and warn, "Tyler, you be careful, there's alot of crazy people out there." My smile broadened each time this warning was repeated by crazy people who had shared their breakfast and sent me on my way with snacks, prayers, and good thoughts. In 2009, the parting messages are more positive. More frequent than warnings have been expressions of gratitude. "Thank you all for stopping here on your tour. It's nice to hear there are other people who care." And that is true. When one considers the enormity of changing lifestyles to fit within the bounds of global resources it is easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless.

I wish i could share the palpable sense of commitment being demonstrated by people we have met all along the way. If I could, then you would feel as re-energized as I do to continue working towards a more sustainable future.

On this trip, I am obviously not alone as passing motorists and active audiences see the four of us pedaling or presenting. It has been wonderful traveling with Jim, Susan, and Ross and feeling the support of folks newly encountered and support from friends and family awaiting our return.

Until then, keep pedaling, or walking, or planting, or shoveling, or protesting, or lobbying, or voting, or writing, or creating, or ... whatever it is that you do. When done with intention and attention, these simple actions will beneficially change the world.

Thank you- Tyler

1 comment:

  1. Amen Tyler. Well said. It is always amazing how good people are. I think I need a bike road trip too. It would be good for my soul. Happy trails. And if you ever pass through Saranac Lake again, the cottage is open.