Last year, a new friend asked me to go on a bicycle journey with him down the West Coast from Canada to Mexico. The journey encompassed 2,000 miles of the Pacific Ocean, mountains, beaches, seabirds, whales, seals, otters, dolphins and endless beauty. It included Lewis & Clark’s Camp Clatsop at the mouth of the Columbia River as well as the Hearst Castle and the Golden Gate Bridge. You know Tony Bennett’s “I left my heart in San Francisco.” The Monterey Aquarium and Big Sur captivated us along the way.
(Sunset over the Pacific Ocean on the Oregon Coast with three guys sitting in wonder at the beauty before them.) Photography by Frosty Wooldridge
The journey itself promised immeasurable visual and other sensory delights beyond the regular workaday world.
“I’m in,” I said.
“Great,” he said.
We touched the Canadian border with high hopes, total excitement and boundless enthusiasm. Standing astride your bicycles at the beginning of a great adventure must be one of the most sublime miracles of the universe. Why? You never know what amazing events might take place in your life on the road.
One thing you may count on during a bicycle trip: tremendous highs and lows from enormous amounts of energy it takes to pedal a bicycle. You feel “high” during sunny days with tailwinds and “low” when it rains, and/or you face headwinds. Nonetheless, you understand that you face every aspect of life on the road because you choose it.
You also find yourself in constant contact with a partner or partners that travel the road with you. While traveling with others, you find yourself face to face with theirs and your foibles, quirks and idiosyncrasies. Because you’re accustomed to your own habits, you don’t think anything of them. But when someone comes into daily contact with you on such an emotional level, conflicts may ensue.
On this journey, my friend began making unkind remarks about my character. He made fun of me in front of other cyclists at campgrounds. He felt the sign on my bike, “Adventure America”, didn’t fit his idea of what my sign should look like.
After two weeks of embarrassing me in front of others, I asked, and then demanded, that he cease his disparaging remarks. He complied, but I faced the uneasy feeling that he felt his charges “fit” me. He angered me so much, that, by the time we arrived in San Francisco, I decided to travel on my own. He sped off on another road. A month later, I touched the border of Mexico. Adventure completed!
I tried everything I could to regain the friendship. But after many failures, I realized that he didn’t respect me. He wasn’t my friend. Therefore, I decided he caused me too much emotional anguish, anger and frustration. I wrote him a nice note, “Thanks for the great adventure we have shared. Thanks for your friendship. I am sorry for anything I said or did to make you degrade me on the trip. But, at this point, I am no longer your friend. I carry no ill will and I will speak only highly of you to others. Enjoy the rest of your life journey.”
He never replied. I haven’t seen him since.
Which brings me to the point of “Mountains for breakfast, Sunsets for dessert and Camping for your dreams.”
In this life, you choose your friends because they support you, love you, care about you and like being around you—in spite of your idiosyncrasies. Because, we’ve all got them. If they don’t, or they can’t come to a point where they stop degrading you—it’s time for you to part ways in a positive manner. Either talk with them to iron it out or come to positive understandings, or just write a letter and walk away. Not in anger or revenge, but in order for you to open your life up to more positive relationships. This includes spouses, in-laws, siblings, parents and co-workers.
In the end, you share the “Dance of Life” with others that like to dance with you. They share the music of the crickets or the wonder of a white-water stream, and/or sitting around the campfire telling tall tales of adventure. You enjoy being yourself and they enjoy being themselves. Together, you can honestly say, “It doesn’t get any better than this!”
Enjoy the coming sunrise; it’s going to be a beauty!
(Frosty Wooldridge standing on top of 14,100 foot Mt. Eolus, Colorado Rocky Mountains)
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