The rush to the finish line.
Since I last posted a blog on my preparations for the Rome to Rumi pilgrimage, it has been a whirlwind of activity. If I didn’t have the assurance of being able to finally relax when I board the plane (and the pressure to have all loose ends tied up by then), I would stop right now, grab a novel, open a bottle of beer, and recline in pool side chair nodding off between paragraphs.
Instead, I have been going full bore morning to night driven partly by the reality of leaving for nearly two months and partly by the fear of leaving something unresolved that will come back to haunt me later. Having taken one 10-week pilgrimage before, I do know that the preparation is worth it. Nonetheless, it feels daunting in its scope. Here is a picture of the last ten days:
- I completed rides of 50, 34, 34, and 38 miles. Not enough miles to be fully prepared physically, but enough to feel confident that my body will adjust in the first week or so.
- I put all of my belongings into storage, moved out of the house where I was staying, and am now couch surfing for the last week before my departure.
- I made a trial run on packing my bicycle in a bike bag suited for air travel. Requires removing wheels, handlebars, seat, pedals, and rear derailer. The downside is the amount of disassembly and reassembly; the upside is that I can carry my bike on my shoulder through the airport rather than trying to push a bulky bike box.
- Interviewed for a half time church position so that I would have work and an income to come home to.
- Completed the first full write through on my manuscript Dying to Live. I REALLY want to get the book done from my last pilgrimage before embarking on my next pilgrimage.
- Had Skype and phone conversations with Turkish citizens and recent travelers to Turkey including a very informative conversation with a woman who just visited Konya (my final destination) who is working on her PhD in Sufism.
- Felt mildly guilty about not blogging this past week. Sorry faithful readers!
It is a strange feeling to have no permanent physical home at present. This past year I chose to house sit for a family in a mutual arrangement that gave them some security while the house had contractors doing repairs and I was looking for a way to save money for this pilgrimage. So, in November of last year, I watched as a St. Vincent’s truck drove off with 90% of my belongings leaving me with just enough furnishings to fill a 21-foot RV, if it came to that. Now I am couch surfing from one good friend to another. In one week I will be on the road and my home will consist of whatever I can carry on my bicycle: a tent, sleeping bag and pad, cooking gear, clothing, some food and tools.
The amazing thing is that I am strangely comfortable with this. Sure, I would feel a little more secure if I had a house to which to return. I would breathe a little more deeply if I had an offer on the table for a job for when I get back. Yet, given the choice I would not give up the opportunity to cycle and explore new worlds in exchange for a little more security.
I admit that the preparation for this pilgrimage is, at times, daunting and overwhelming. But, how often do we say from our seemingly secure environments, “Tough week at work” or “The kids are just overwhelming me right now.” Yes, the preparation is daunting, but the finish line is close and soon I’ll be in Rome, putting my bike back together and setting out on an adventure of unknown challenges and surprising delights.