While I'm equally enthusiastic about meeting the people with whom I will be crossing North America next summer, I'm really looking forward to being alone with my thoughts on the open road. It may seem ironic that nothing clears my head like walking in the chaotic streets of Manhattan. The crowds around me become a mass blur as I slalom through the grids of Midtown. You can make yourself feel as alone as you want to in New York City.
Conversely, on my bike ride across North America - though it will be a group tour - I'm not sure what I'll find out there any more than I can guess what chaos looms around each corner on Fifth Avenue. You can be surrounded by a million people in the center of Midtown and remain completely unnoticed if you don't want to be found. I imagine that I'll find similar and comforting mental isolation on my trip - though I'm hoping that the chaos of adventure will be a little more self-fulfilling than the ordinary chaos of home. And I hope that working two jobs for almost a year proves to be worth the effort.
I'm no stranger to working hard and going after what I want. I grew a thick skin as a military brat, which has carried me into adulthood and the corporate world, where I quickly learned to not take anything personally between 9am and 6pm. I'll just keep wearing the metaphorical bulletproof vest for another 20-some odd hours over the weekend. Working three jobs for a year to save enough money to leave North Carolina has undoubtedly softened the blow of maintaining two jobs in New York. While I cried from exhaustion after my first week on the 7-day run back in North Carolina, now I simply yawn through it. I'm not sure if I can chalk that up solely to experience or just age. I am, after all, turning 30 - which is what started this whole fourth decade self-challenge in the first place. And I am absolutely grateful that I'm not working two jobs to support a couple of kids on my own. Now that would really be difficult work. Women who pull that off are truly amazing. So no pity parties here.
I joked with a colleague (at job #1) that I hope to find some sort of enlightenment on my cycling trip. Maybe I'll return a more progressive thinker with less material need of the physical world. Perhaps I will become privy to some sort of nirvana. Though ultimately unattainable, I've heard that there is an inner illumination in finding the Buddhist vision.
Maybe I'll finally figure out what I truly want in my life. By then, it will have only taken me 30 years.