Thursday, July 28, 2011

What would you do?

This past Friday, I was fortunate to meet two incredible people who were staying with some friends in town.  Adam and Christy Coppola are spending a calendar year traveling across all 50 states via bicycle.  Having embarked in January, Montana was their 41st state.  They entered Wyoming today, their 43rd state, after Idaho.  Obviously familiar with the idea of adventure to have cooked up such a scheme, they are also doing it for charity, inspired by their brothers- the Peace Corps volunteer inspired connection to World Bicycle Relief and the other inspired a connection to Achilles International's Freedom Team for Wounded Vets.  Christy writes the blog, while Adam takes stunning photographs- I'm really hoping they turn this into a book, they've gotten an incredibly close experience with people from all walks of life and the photos to match.

After watching Harry Potter 7.2, a gaggle of us headed to a local pub where I finally tried their famous Moscow Mule (potentially very dangerous).  I can't remember if it was there or waiting for the movie at the theater when, in the course of the conversation, I told Adam about last fall when I went from ~71 deg N to ~77 deg S in the course of five days or so.  His response was a smiling and incredulous, "Who does that?".  Coming from a guy more than halfway through a bike tour of all 50 states, I'll take it as a complement!  But it definitely reminded me of why I do what I do.  

Meeting them in someways feels like a bit of fate poking me in the rear.  With my current job ending in December (unless that fellowship comes through, fingers crossed!) I've been facing the possibility of being unemployed in January.  While I've been quite excited about a few job openings and applying for every job that I'm remotely qualified for, anyone who's looking right now can tell you that prospects are thin.  Terrifying in some ways, exciting in others.  Moving back home is certainly not an option, so I've been thinking of what other folks have done.  Like the friend who quit his job, traveled the world, and then lived out of a van when he went back to grad school to pay off his credit cards.  So, I started to thinking about what I would do if I couldn't do what I do now.  Of course, the fantasy of doing what you love doesn't always meet the reality of the grocery bill, but I'm a little less scared of that unknown now than I was just a little while ago.  Not that I'll hop on a bike and tour the 50 states, but maybe something equally awesome in its own little way.  I still have 7 states and 1 continent on the list.  And a dog who has decided she really, really, likes day long hikes.  Heck, I turned working for a rental car company after undergrad into a month long backpacking trip in Europe.

Cologne (I think), Germany, 2001

If you had the opportunity to take a year out of your life or to start over, what would you do?