~5 miles to Miami Amtrak station
~25 hour train ride to Philadelphia
You know that feeling of resistance that comes when pulling a Bandaid off of a fresh wound? Or that feeling of unexpectancy and anticipation that comes at the height of a rollercoaster before it descends? Or that feeling of uneasiness and stomach churning when going outside of your comfort zone?
All of these allude to how I was feeling on the day I left my home in Philly for this bicycle tour but, still, words can't suffice in place of honest feeling. I had no idea what I was doing. I was sick with fear.
I had spent the entire last year planning-- mapping the route, contacting organizations and facilities, emailing, having phone conferences, lesson planning and designing, fundraising, et cetera.
But we had a rough winter in Philly, and one thing I didn't do was train (physically). I was accustomed to riding my bike everywhere in Philly-- it was my mode of transportation, my livelihood-- but I was not a cyclist. I didn't know how to use the gears on the new bicycle. I'd worn the clipless shoes once riding through Philly and fell over flat on the ground because I couldn't clip out in time.
Could I do this? I really had no idea.
My friends sent me off with a huge, delicious breakfast and a lot of love, and when I left Philly for Wilmington-- the first stop of tour-- I circled around for awhile feeling lost even though I knew exactly where I was.
I biked to Wilmington as fast as I could, I think because I needed it all to feel real. And because the weather was still freezing cold.
In fact, during the first few weeks of tour (up until mid-North Carolina), it was cold. It snowed twice. Rained often. I couldn't feel my toes because my riding shoes were a breathable mesh material. I was still getting acclimated with clipping the shoes out of the pedals in time, and I fell over twice (in Maryland and D.C.) in my failed attempts at doing so.
I can't recall how many times I truly wanted to give up, because I lost count.
In the beginning, I'd feel so sore after a long day of riding that I couldn't imagine doing it all over again the next morning. Yet somehow I'd wake up the next day and go for it anyhow.
Often, my mantra during my morning meditation would be "I don't know." Because I didn't. But I was quickly becoming okay with this not-knowing, gaining more trust in this learning curve and myself. I was committed to surrendering. Not giving in, but surrendering. There is a difference.
Just as how there is a difference between pain and suffering. And there is a difference between wearing our "story" as a badge of honor or allowing our "story" to be a rite of passage. And there is a difference between taking shallow breaths and breathing mindfully.
I packed my bags again each morning, feeling teased by the shorts and short-sleeve shirts that were wrinkled at the bottom of my bag, and I'd layer up and head back out into the cold, feeling somewhat burdened by my bicycle.
This feeling of burden soon turned into a oneness with my bicycle; a feeling of being inseparable. And, as I traveled further south, it became warmer, and I sent my winter jacket, hat, scarf and gloves back home to Philadelphia.
And things became lighter, literally and figuratively. I was now literally biking with less weight, and I could also feel my darkness turn into light as I eased and dove into this not-knowing.
Truth is, I love riding a bicycle. It is cathartic. I would even go on 'recreational' rides sometimes after riding all day to the next town. That was never the most challenging part of the journey. The challenge was mostly mental and emotional. But challenge is growth.
Over the course of this journey, I was blessed to have met the amazing people that I did, both on the yoga mat and off. I was truly taken care of.
Now, at the end of this journey, as I prepare to break down my bicycle and take it on to a train back home to Philadelphia, I have just one question for you: how can you bring more yoga to your life and to the lives of others, off of the mat?
And for the final numbers from the ProjectSPACE tour:
~ 1603 miles
~ 486 students
2 flat tires
1 year planning
ProjectSPACE --> transforming 'unconventional' spaces into yoga studios; mindfulness to the streets
So, this is the end
the beginning I should say
though unsure of what