On a cold Massachusetts afternoon in November 2009, I hopped onto my bicycle and headed south. Despite the cold weather, the physical exertion quickly kept me warm as I rode through town.
But this was no ordinary bicycle ride. I had given up everything for it.
In the months leading up to the big day, I stopped accepting contracts—telling anyone requesting a performance of my magic act that I was no longer available, instead referring them to colleagues.
I donated most of my possessions to The Goodwill. It took many boxes and many carloads and many weeks to do—and the carefully curated items I did choose to keep were loaned to trusted family and friends to hold onto during my absence.
I gave my landlord 30-days notice that I would be vacating the premises, and the day before the ride I sold my car to a friend. The money would certainly come in handy on the unpredictable journey ahead.
I told people I was headed to California, and seeing as it was November, I charted a course that would first bring me south before journeying west. While I had the moral support of those closest to me, there were many who didn’t understand what I was doing.
“Why don’t you just stay here where you already have support?”
“No matter where you go, you can’t run away from your problems.”
“Why don’t you just take a plane? Or a train? Or a bus?”
“Why are you leaving now? November is a terrible time of year for a cross country bicycle ride!”
All of these concerns had validity to them, but none of them addressed the real reason for the journey, which had nothing to do with California.
During the two years prior to the ride, I struggled with grief, depression, and substance abuse following the death of a very dear friend. The loss shook the core of my Being, forever changing my understanding of life, reality, and my place within the fabric of the Universe.
During that time in the dark night of the soul, I didn’t want to exist. Not death, but a non-existence—by traveling back to the beginning of time and space to stop the cause that would one day lead to my existence. Sincerely, the night was dark and the grief was deep.
Despite the darkness, Hope kept trying to play hide-and-go-seek with me—pricking holes in the darkness like constellations offering clues for a way forward, reminding me that the best way out is always through.
To get through, though, would require a lot of changes. We cannot change what we don’t address and we can’t address what we’re not aware of. I was too close to it. I was too close to old habits. I was too close to unhealthy environments. I was too close to what people believed was true about me.
How can we fully step into who we really are when everyone around us has already made up their mind about who they think we are? We need to show them. And more importantly, we need to show ourselves.
In 2009, I was ready to show myself, and this meant making some drastic changes. For me, this meant removing all the distractions—giving myself time and space to take care of myself without having to also worry about supporting myself. It meant taking immediate action rather than waiting for a more convenient time. After all, if not now, when?
Most importantly, it meant being sincerely committed to the journey forward rather than merely being involved in it. I needed to be a pig, not a chicken.
(When serving bacon and eggs for breakfast, the chicken merely involves its eggs while the pig commits its entire life to the cause.)
In the end, it doesn’t matter what we might do and what we can do. All that matters is what we will do—what we actually commit to following through with. For me, this meant giving up everything to go on a bicycle ride.
What does commitment mean to you? What are you doing to ensure you follow through?
P.S. In case you’re wondering, though I didn’t make it to California on the bicycle, I did eventually reach my distention—and continue to arrive every day.
I'm a mirror (and so are you).