Nine Thousand Miles. Well, nine thousand eighty –something miles. That how long ive been riding this bicycle around America. Nine Thousand eighty something miles have led me to a jungle gym off the side of the road in North Carolina. I just pulled a tick off my neck. At least I think it was a tick. I cant really see all that well on a count of the darkness. It has to be a tick because how else will I be able to convince myself I have Lyme Disease all day tomorrow? Nine Thousand Eighty Something miles have led me here. Actually it’s 9,083.84 miles. I know the exact number because my GPS has been recording the mileage of the entire trip. And since I learned that, I have been obsessively checking its progress. I have my eye set on 10,000. I should have my eye set on 9,083.84. So why don’t I? I think because I’m beginning to check myself out of the ride. I am so ready to get home and begin applying everything I’ve learned from the past 10 months to my life. But because of that, I feel I’ve neglected to apply these new skills and beliefs to my present self. I finally stopped to take a moment to acknowledge that and realize that error. I have been alarmingly reckless and disrespectful to myself and those around me.
When I was in Los Angeles I wrote a list of things I felt I needed to begin applying to my life. Essentially it was a personal set of rules and commandments I created to cater to my specific life. Much like the ten commandments. This leads me to my first tangent. I firmly believe that each person has an individual religion they have created for themselves. The major religions of the world are simply a mold which people can use to formulate their own set of morals and values. Sure people may think they’re devoutly following a specific scripture, but what they’re doing is choosing certain morals, ethics, and values from that scripture that cater to their individual lifestyle. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. So long as people realize they’re doing it And can tell the difference between the actual scripture and what they’ve gleaned from it. I look at the religions of the world as tools which I can pick and choose to use as a guide in molding my own moral compass. None of them are mutually exclusive or superior to another. So here is my set of guidelines I made for myself. I think we all have one. Now I cant tell if it’s inappropriate to share my guidelines. The only thing I feel I own in this world is my body and my consciousness. I’m about to share my consciousness. And on such a public platform…this is such an intimate thing. But I have shared quite a lot on this blog anyway. Enough to make me consider deleting it on different occasions. Yet here we are. Ok so this is my list. My list. Maybe consider your own as you read this. Oh c’mon, you know you have one. We all do. Well here’s mine, and I know it’s a work in progress. In fact I think it needs to constantly be changing. For the better of course. That’s how people evolve. Change is good. I know my list was different before I left and it will certainly be different a year from now:
1.) Tell your family you love them more. It feels good to say. Say it more.
2.) The same can be said for your friends.
3.) Sex is a big deal. Treat it with respect.
4.) You love your bike. Take better care of it.
5.) You are experiencing so much so fast. Take a few moments to stop and reflect back on something you learned from those experiences.
6.) You can always count on your family. Prove to them that they can count on you.
7.) Treat alcohol and marijuana as tools. Not crutches.
8.) Do not spend your energy pursuing women. Instead, use that energy for research, creativity, and things to better yourself. You’re not ready for a relationship with someone else until you better your relationship with yourself. Forcing something only leads to a detriment of both parties.
9.) Just because you find something fascinating or incredible, doesn’t mean everyone else does too.
10.) This is like the ultimate one: Treat others how you would want to be treated.
I’ve kind of dropped the ball on most of these. No, not kind of. I definitely dropped the ball on most of these. Number eight. That one stands out most. And oh look at that, I was totally right about the last part of that rule. Why is it so easy to preach, but so challenging to practice? Hmm, I guess that’s how character is built. Right now my character is the villain in a Saturday morning cartoon. But one that also knows how to turn up the self-destructive dial too. He’s not a very good villain. If he received a villain report card from the School of Villainlry , he’d be looking at a steady stream of Cs. Maybe a B in there (he’s got the maniacal laugh pretty well down). No one likes a villain. I don’t want to be one. But I’ve been acting like one.
I have read The Apostle’s Creed countless times and I never understood that line “and lead us not into temptation…” It never made sense. Temptation is unavoidable in reality. Everyone has a vice and we’re tempted by it daily. I feel like it should say “and teach us to overcome our temptations…” , but that’s beside the point. The point is that I lost sight of my list. Rather than dwell on my misstep, I must figure out what led to my misstep in the first place. I must also reconcile with those who have been affected by my misstep and apologize. It is so incredibly easy to fuck up, yet so incredibly tough to fix the up you’ve fucked. Or is it the fuck you’ve up’d? Woah! Language. Cmon guy. Ah it’s the internet and we’re adults. I can curse all I want. Besides, I know there are no kids reading this. At least I hope not. What a weird sadistic view they’d have of the world if their impressionable mind read the stream of consciousness from a half awake, half-baked twenty something cyclist. A bug just flew directly into my eye. I just lost my train of thought. Oh yeah, I need to be a better person. That’s about it. I guess that was kind of the main point of this blog post. What I need to do now exceeds the parameters of this digital interface. I can almost guarantee you there was some shitty electronica band from the mid-nineties named ‘Digital Interface’. But if there’s not, I could totally step up to the plate and be that shitty band.
To put is simply: “Tom, start living your life like Mr. Rogers, and stop living it like that mediocrely academic villain.”
Well now I guess I should figure out if I have the motivation to set up my hammock, or if I’m going to sleep in the play tube of that jungle gym. I really hope I don’t have Lyme disease. 9083.84.
I went to an all you can eat pizza buffet for lunch on Mother’s Day and saw a woman in her late 60s sitting alone. She looked sad. Not depressed or mournful. Just sad. I filled my plate and sat alone near her. I thought about sitting with her. I thought about my own mom. I miss her. I felt sorry for the woman. But how do I know that she was really sad. I decided she was, but because I never sat with her to find out, I’ll never know. I regret the decision to not sit with her. She could’ve used a hug. I could’ve too. Rachel asked me what the first thing I’m going to do when I get home was. I told her “hug my mom”.
Total Ascent: 1683 ft.
Total Ascent: 3363 ft.