Here I sit somewhere between middle and senior age. For the past three years I have worked hard to change my life and become that “new“ Tom. I’ve been on a pretty amazing journey of self discovery since I lost weight. As an overweight person, I felt that losing weight would somehow expose a different me. Looking back, I realize that it did indeed do that.
Taking chances and doing the unexpected has been an ongoing theme for me. Three years ago I would never have imagined that I would spend a day at Cedar Point riding virtually every roller coaster, ziplining across a jungle and tubing through caves on a river, and cycling 150 miles in two days. Maybe not mainstream news, but they were biggies for me.
As part of my middle-senior age state of mind, I made a decision to embark on a quest in 2011. I wasn’t sure what to call what I am about to embark on until I found the definition of quest on Wikipedia, “… significance-laden journey… towards a goal… the objects of quests require great exertion on the part of the hero, and the overcoming of many obstacles, typically including much travel…”. I think it pretty much sums it up.
This coming summer, I am joining my cycling buddy Chuck on a 335 mile weeklong cycling journey from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C. We will be following the Great Alleghany Passage and Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail though the Laurel Highlands across the Appalachian Mountains through the rolling Maryland countryside before ending in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington D.C. Our trip will be self supported with us camping along the trail.
This trip is completely outside of my comfort zone. Last year I learned about the Great Allegheny Passage and bought several guidebooks. Last week, my friend Chuck and I were planning cycling rides for the year. He was looking for a challenging journey for the year and thought the Great Alleghany Passage was the ticket. A few days later he emailed me that he made his decision to cycle to Washington D.C. from Pittsburgh and invited me to cycle at least part of the ride with him.
The email got the gears in my mind going. He was going to embark on the journey I have dreamed of for the past year. I’ve overcome a lot of things but still harbor a lot self doubt and lack confidence that I can achieve greater things. This is especially true in the area of physical fitness where I have always greatly underachieved and embarrassed myself. I tossed aside this lack of confidence and emailed Chuck that I would join him for the WHOLE trip.
This will truly be a significance laden journey for me. I will overcome that obstacle that I have placed on myself. I will show that I can complete this feat of physical endurance. Being self-sufficient on this journey will indeed challenge me since I am in no way a camper, let alone primitive camper. I can’t imagine the emotions that I will feel as I end this journey in Georgetown.
A journey of this magnitude requires support. I chose to do this trip with Chuck because I am certain he is the support I need to make it to the end. Chuck, a fellow weight loss surgery patient, inspires me. Just a year after surgery he completed marathon. He is a positive role model. I am glad that he sees me as a person worthy of being his trip companion. I can’t speak for Chuck, but I know that I will come out of this ride with much more than I had when I went into it.
This may not be a quest of the same level of excitement and peril as Indiana Jones’ quest for the Lost Ark of the Covenant or the Hoy Grail. I am in no way a hero. I see it as a symbol of achievement that will define me as a more confident person. I can’t tell you how it will change my life, but I know my life will change. You see, I am no longer that person who sits back and waits for change to happen. I now go out looking for change just to see what does happen. That attitude has not disappointed me yet.
“We do not follow maps to buried treasure and X never, ever marks the spot.” — Indiana Jones, Last Crusade