I rode 61 miles today. The weather was beautiful and the pace was steady. I worked my way down Memorial and soon rolled through Hershey Park and by Addicks Reservoir. As traffic lessened the pace became steady, the pedal stroke rhythmic, and the act of riding and thinking soon prevailed.
My mind began to wander, as it often does, and I soon began to think, for some reason, about success and failure. I had a need to clearly define, as related to the trip, what is success, and what is failure? The answer did not arrive without considerable thought. In fact, I started this blog entry several times, and stopped as my thoughts were never clear.
My initial response to the question was matter-of-fact. If I finish the trip, I succeed, anything short of that is a failure. Well, this is true. But life is not matter of fact and this trip is a huge part of my life. In order to answer the question, I needed an all encompassing solution. A solution which holds true in life and in the endeavors that I choose to pursue.
I have felt self imposed pressure to use this trip as a means of marking my return to health. I know full well, however, that if this is my only objective, crossing the finish line in Virginia will be a bit hollow as the trip was self focused. Although this would remain the trip of a lifetime, and I would be honored to have had the experience, it would not be achieved in the way that I desire.
I remember, while in college, reading Ralph Waldo Emerson and his thoughts on qualities that made for a successful life. As I recently went back and re-read, I discovered ideas that, if pursued, success, despite the outcome, couldn't help but follow. With the thoughts of Emerson in mind, I found the line between success in my life and my cross country journey soon blurred. Although the wording is not exact, his thoughts remain beneficial to my version of all encompassing success.
1) Laugh often and laugh much.
2) Appreciate beauty.
3) Find the best in others.
4) Give of one's self.
5) Leave the world a little bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition.
6) To have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation.
7) To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
So yes, success, in this case, is partially measured by the matter-of-fact. I either make it across the country or I don't! But it is also measured by waking daily, facing struggles, and in the midst of these challenges choosing to laugh, choosing to appreciate beauty, and choosing to find the best in others. This version of success can be achieved in Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, or places in between. Sure, I want the pedals to turn all the way across the country, but I also find solice, and must remember, that success is not completely determined by where the pedals on a bike stop turning.
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