I live in a very special area, I think. I’ve already told you about the silver lights festival, but it’s only one of many wonders that can be found just a bicycle trip away from my summer home. It’s pointless to list them all, since as you would quickly discover, what I understand as a “wonder” might very well be something or somewhere fairly common, but inexplicably special to me, I’ll talk about that later. I’ll just stick to my contemplations on the very process of travelling, and specifically, why the way I do it is not fun enough for anybody who’s not a fan of sailing on the calmest waters, but remains exciting for me.
This one might be harder to read. But I warned before, that I will discuss thoughts that I don’t really understand as well.
A couple of years ago, two dreamy villages, mine and one just a few miles away, were separated by a brand new highway. As devastating as it may sound, the construction required additional technical driveways being built, which would connect the new road with all the old routes, so that the heavy machinery had an easy access to the construction site. Now, they left these technical driveways open after they were done, and so they’re heavily explored by cyclists. Add that to the fact, that they went really overboard with overpasses, and you got yourself a 20 mile-long loop, exclusively for cyclists, with all the necessary connections to the two villages, from both ends. Some would call it a paradise.
It’s important, because this opened up a whole new world of bicycle rides for me. I wasn’t a big fan of biking before, now I know it’s because there wasn’t really a place for me to do the biking. But ever since I digged out my bicycle from the basement and spent half an hour pumping up the somehow already bald tires to check out that highway, because there’s nothing better to do when you live in the middle of nowhere, I started regularly “travelling” across the mighty county of “where I live”.
Now, the word “travelling” might seem out of place here. It’s a big word, and my rides aren’t big at all. To travel, in common albeit not necessarily a dictionary definition, is to explore, to visit new places, to experience, to learn something about yourself maybe. Adventurers travel. What I do, right now, sounds more like stepping out of the house. And yet with all certainty, I can say, that I don’t take rides, I travel. I’ve been for some time now.
Might sound dramatic or narcissistic even, I’m well aware. But what if I told you, that travelling is a matter of perspective?
Let me be clear, I would never intent to compare a bicycle ride around the county to exploring the Amazon Jungle, or even downtown New York. But if travelling truly is about the experience of the journey itself, learning something about yourself in the process, then why does it have to be a trip any further than where you actually achieve that goal? To me, a person who has been out of the social life for years, and who has been stuck in his comfort zone for too long, that trip ends with every next “wonder” that I encounter on my journey from this overpass to the next one. The best moments of my summers, are the stops I make during my rides, when the surprise of having the sights so beautiful so close to my home makes me take a moment and admire the beautiful “nothing” that I found. So you see, I don’t think travelling is about the destination. It’s about the process of finding your own wonders. Nowadays, I just happen to find them in many unexpected places.
I learned to channel that positive energy into mind productivity. “Travelling”, I clear my head and think more clearly. Perhaps it’s about turning off that day mode, this focus, and just letting yourself accept whatever comes to you. The moments of solitude, in a beautiful place have this amazing power, where you find it easier to follow wherever your mind takes you, you give up control and enjoy the gentle stream down the river of thought. All the decisions I was finally able to make while on a ride, all the problems dealt with, all the darker days changing for the better. I look at myself from another angle, I understand the problem, not just comprehend it. Maybe it’s that stepping out of the comfort zone, maybe it’s something else. Maybe that’s how I was meant to be as a person, if it wasn’t for the problems I faced, which held me back. But I know now, that to discover something new about myself, to experience the beauty of the seemingly most common things, I don’t have to travel the world. It’s enough, that I enjoy the journey, and everything on my path. The excitement, coming from not knowing what’s waiting beyond the hill I’m riding towards, the beauty of a lonely tree growing proudly in an open field, the magnificence of the natural tunnel, that oaks formed over an old road, discovering what’s waiting up around the bend.
This is not to say that I wouldn’t have a “bigger” experience walking on the Great Wall of China. But right now, walking the Overpass of The Exit 49a is a fun experience. Maybe because I didn’t get to taste the real beauty? Well, I don’t feel like I’m missing much on that front. But who knows, a day may come when I’ll travel the world, and discover a completely new experience. I very well might one day realize how big of a fool I was for believing that a biking trip through the grasslands was an intense experience, and that I was a loser and not a traveller. But for now, I don’t feel the need to worry about that.
Just as fast as my feet can fly
Come away, come away if you’re goin’
Leave the sinkin’ ship behind
We’re goin’ up around the bend