Earth, fire, water, steel and wood, these basic elements of life are never out of arms reach. Each one of these can save your life and just as easily end it. Yet another injury, I don’t know if it’s a muscle or a tendon but I can barely stand up. Just below my knee on the bone in one tiny area. When I gently touch it a sensation of fire occurs. My health insurance was cancelled the day before I left on bike tour so now all my medical attention comes from a vet and she’s a damn fine one.
If I do have to operate on myself it won’t be the first time. My opioid receptors measure both pain and pleasure on the same scale so with a steady hand and a sharp knife, a bit of duct tape and a few tears of joy I’ll get through this one. The five consecutive days of low level trauma caused by the fire on the other hand doesn’t seem to be manageable. The only way I can describe it is as compared to being a war journalist. While nothing particularly bad is happening directly to you the potential is always present and inevitable. You don’t think about it or dwell on it but there is a small portion of your brain that is always aware of the situation and creates a form of stress. After the first day I was safe but I didn’t know it, for 5 straight days I could get no information, the color of the sky and how much ash it was raining was my only mode of forecasting.
I haven’t faced what I went though yet. Just like I did what I had to do to get though it I’m still just doing what I have to do. At no time did I sit down and actually think about what was going on. My body was operating on my most basic instinct, survival. Now safe and secure that basic instinct is again at defcon 5 ie fight or flight. I can’t get the divide out of my head. Those long days pushing towards what is only an imaginary border until you cross it which I never did. Every mile was made good with the starting line in mind which I wouldn’t reach till Mexico. There were many trying days out there where I wondered why hell I didn’t just fly and get on with it but I needed those days to get mentally and physically strong.
I don’t believe in bucket lists, I never make any firm plans, I just always seem to know where I’m going and while i most certainly know what’s in at least part of my immediate future I also know deep down that I need to complete a special ride, to start at point A and end at point B both dictated by me. This isn’t something I’m doing for bonus points or to have something to write about. It’s something that I am so passionate about that I lose a bit more sleep everyday, my mind is mainlining on the freedom I had on the open road and how quickly it all went away. For people who haven’t been on a long bicycle tour, or hiked the Pacific Crest trail, or made a pilgrimage to Tibet, or sailed vast tracks of open ocean, this feeling, this place is impossible to describe. I’ve done all of these things. Each journey in one way or another altered over the course to become something entirely different. You can’t focus on the end without robbing yourself of the journey. You simply live in the present, it’s something we were all born with but tragically most will go though life without experiencing, basic instinct… No this journey hasn’t ended, it’s barely even begun, I just need a better road map, some might call it a chart.