A few years ago, sitting in Evans Student Center, I overheard someone say, “It’s a lot easier to live the life of your dreams than you think.” This idea set me free and opened a whole world that dared me to dream big and work harder. This summer I got to live my dream job: I was a videography intern for a nonprofit’s cross-country bike adventure.
Th Fuller Center for Housing Bike Adventure started in Seattle, Wash., and finished in Washington, D.C. The ride is a fundraising expedition that raises money and awareness about poverty housing. The trip also includes a hands-on component as the cyclists would stop and build on active sites along the way. This journey required nine weeks, over 3,500 miles and crossing 15 states. Along with being a videographer, I also was a support member. So, no, I personally wasn’t biking across the country but instead was driving alongside and helping every 20 miles to set up rest stops for the cyclists on-trail. This means other support members and I got to travel the country – 20 miles at a time.
We would spend 30 minutes driving and then set up a rest stop and gather video content until the team was through. Sometimes, we got to set up in beautiful snowy passes in Montana or in cute towns with fruit and coffee stands in Washington state and West Virginia. But, more often than not, we were in the middle of nowhere. And, no offense America, but I am not the biggest fan of Nebraska or Iowa. There is just too much corn.
At night we would sleep on the floor of churches, and sometimes we showered in really odd places. It is safe to say you would need a sense of humor to appreciate the uniqueness of the experience. The weekends were my favorite part. We got to help build houses with the Fuller Center and their local covenant partners. We got to work hands-on and make a real impact with others. We also were given an off-day where we were free to explore wherever we were, which was a real bonus. It was super cool and pretty crazy, and I could probably write a book about all I learned and experienced.
When we reached the finish line of our adventure, two things hit me hard. I was going to miss the people I grew in community with, and I was afraid I was not going to be the same person I had started to become. But, growth is an active process, and just because I was not going to be in the same environment didn’t mean I could not keep growing. Any environment you are in can grow you if you are not passive in doing so – it may just take a little more work. And, I think, the growth you gain in multiple environments and seasons will be more genuine and long-lasting.
When I think about the patterns that developed the lifestyle changes I saw in myself this summer, there are two things that resonate joy and continue to impact my life. I want to share these things with you in the hopes you would consider adopting them into your lifestyle.
First, if you keep your mind open to people, you may find yourself on some amazing adventures. On my trip, we often were in places for only 16 hours and no more than 60. Having such little time, we wanted to make the most of everywhere we were, and we quickly figured out that the best thing was to put our time in other people’s hands. I would take the time to talk to people, and we would share parts of our lives with each other.
People usually were more than willing to invest however much time they could, and something special always came from it. You may be given free bikes from a shop owner for the day in Kellogg, Idaho,; a job connection and much-needed encouragement from a CEO you randomly met in Pennsylvania; or you may get to know an Olympic speed skater.
What is the point of traveling if you are not experiencing the people? What is the point of life if you are not experiencing it with people?
Second, life is hard. And traveling day-in and day-out for weeks is hard. Sitting somewhere that was not fun or not beautiful is no one’s favorite thing to do. But you have two options for these types of situations. You can either sit in bitterness and frustration, or you can simply play into the hard times to find the memories waiting to be made.
Choose to laugh when you try camping under the stars and it starts raining. Choose to jump in a river instead of complaining about the heat. Choose to be where you are instead of wishing it away. I understand you cannot always be traveling and seeing new things, but I think you can always make the world around you a little bigger by choosing positivity.
I plan to be intentional in continuing to practice these patterns as I saw how they grew me this summer, and in ways I’ve always wanted to grow.
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