At this very moment -- (and with a little luck!) -- I am somewhere 100+ miles south of San Francisco, likely crawling uphill with the speed of a snail as cars and trucks blow past, cursing my past self for not having the forethought or discipline to break in my spanking-new leather saddle.
In the meantime, I confess: Although we've been preparing for over a year, this trip hasn't felt exactly real to me yet.
Partly because -- although I've written plenty to share with sponsors and funders -- I haven't yet sat down and written about what it means to me: what I'm hoping to get out of it, what principles I hope to operate by, and how I will dance with all the fear and insecurity that such a big, risky adventure brings with it.
Every other time I've set off -- to backpack around India, or to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, or even to move to San Francisco -- I've luxuriated in writing, for how it can help clarify intentions and make sense of decisions.
This time, things are different.
Not only because I am now one of a partnership; inside of which there are several driving why's (not all of which are shared), and outside of which there are sponsors to think of...
... But even MORE so because THIS time, I'm not saying sayonara to real-world responsibilities in pursuit of a relatively carefree "educational experience" (as I've come to think of travel in general).
This time, a bigger dream is on the line.
What's at stake is ONLY my whole Theory of Life, and perhaps my deepest personal hope...
Which is that -- with a lot of hard work, and ruthless prioritization -- it's possible to live your dreams now, while ALSO making a meaningful contribution to society; AND successfully feeding yourself, to boot.
In pursuit of this dream, I can't TELL you how far my growth-edge has been pushed over the years.
For all the fun, it's been a near-CONSTANT stream of uncomfortable and unpleasant learning experiences (as supported by the best piece of advice I've ever gotten: "If you want to be in business, you have to get really comfortable with rejection.")
And in the past 3-6 months, the pace of comfort-zone-expansion has only accelerated.
Launching my first online course -- which required me to (gasp!) SEND MORE THAN ONE EMAIL to my dear readers in a week?
Twinging stomach cramps of anxiety!
Getting in front of a camera to deliver content (that I'd ONLY EVER delivered to a living, breathing audience) into an unblinking mechanical eye?
Hammering heartbeat of fear!
Hitting "upload," while my inner critic/perfectionist thrashed and writhed in protest?
Tiny wrinkles stamped between my eyebrows!
... And yet.
On the other side of the stress...
After each new demand had been met, and the cortisol levels had dropped...
I encountered... space.
Empty space -- where before, there had been a solid wall.
And what do you do with THAT?
What do you do with the lived, embodied knowledge...
... That SO MUCH of what holds us back -- is imaginary?
When Bruce got sick the day before we were supposed to leave, I got SO in my head about leaving.
Around Day 5, after bringing Bruce his 6th or 7th bowl of soup that would go uneaten long enough to grow a thin film on its surface -- I decided to stop micro-managing his recovery and embrace the extra time.
Now -- departing nearly 2 WEEKS behind schedule -- I can't help but feel that the huge cosmic WRENCH that got thrown into our plans...
Was perhaps EXACTLY what we needed...
To free ourselves of the stubborn, lingering illusion that we know ANYTHING about how this will play out.
Perhaps, then, there is only one thing I know, which is this:
Though I will encounter lots to fear and complain about...
And though I will at times ferventlywish I had chosen to stay safe and warm and dry and surrounded by loving, familiar faces...
I will not stop pushing my growth edge.
I will pay attention.
I will adapt to the punches and interruptions.
And hopefully, I will emerge on the other side -- to even more spaciousness.
Whatever happens -- I will brave whatever discomfort is required to keep making my bubble bigger.
... And in my heart, I'll be doing so in support and celebration of EVERYONE, everywhere (that's you!), who ever dared to make the MOST of their one wild and precious life.