After entering the US, I took two months off the bicycle, which is the longest break I have taken on this tour. I had my bicycle completely overhauled and my camera equipment upgraded. Meanwhile, I went to San Francisco Bay Area and spent a few days there where I would meet new people every day. Otherwise, I was mostly in the Los Angeles County, but hardly had time for myself or for that matter, writing posts.
By not cycling for so long, I had started to slip into depression. I was told by many how I could build a career out of this travel or do something for others and become larger than life. At times, I would get thoughts that I should abandon this tour and get a “real life”. Other times, I would miss the joy of being alone on the empty roads. I was being torn apart from inside. Never before on this tour, I had become so confused about my future or longed so much to be with myself. In other words, I had spent too much time in the civilisation.
I bid farewell to my hosts in El Monte over a week ago and jumped onto the saddle with conflicting thoughts. As I left behind the hustle bustle of urban life, I slowly began to hear my heart pounding—my skin burnt in the intense sun—the sweat dripped on to my sunglasses—my legs ached on the steep uphills–and the road gently unfolded itself like an open palm reaching the horizon—right there—after each pedal stroke—all the doubts I had in my mind—squished under the churning tyres one by one—right there—I learnt that these long desert roads are my home for now and this is where I belong.
During my last days in Los Angeles, I was so desperate to hit the road that I hardly did any planning for the route to Las Vegas. Soon I found myself cycling in the vast desert with no food and little water. I was spending long hours on the road but had to skip lunch or dinner, or both. But it was during those moments of vulnerability on neverending roads that I felt closest to myself. In aloneness, I learnt that the biggest gift one can have is the freedom to be whoever they want to be.
My bottom hurt sitting on the new hard Brooks leather saddle from morning till evening, the skin of my legs became hot and got baked in the sun, my stomach yearned for food but I felt happier than I was with the full belly sitting on a comfy chair in the air-conditioned office I used to work in three years ago.
People tell me that I am living a dream. Sometimes, I do fear, I might wake up one morning to find out this is indeed a dream and I have been asleep all those years. Until I am awake, I will continue to believe that we should spend our life doing things we love instead of the mindless race we find ourselves participating in against others. Most of us hardly have a moment of solitude to contemplate, maybe that’s why we all feel restless and seek pleasure in worldly things and temporal distractions than finding the source of happiness within. Over the years, I have found out that bigger the scale of the place I am in, the happier and more content I feel. It is as if all the emptiness outside fills the void within me.
When my eyes are fixated upon a long empty road disappearing in the horizon, and my mind is like the still water lake perfectly reflecting the sky and the mountains in the distance, I sometimes ask myself, “is there another place I would rather be at this moment?” I hardly ever get an answer, but this doesn’t bother me. En route to Las Vegas, I met a man living alone in an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. He said that the desert has answers to all our questions.
“Then why doesn’t it speak to us?” I asked him.
“It speaks to us but first we need to be quiet!” he replied.
We stood there in quietness and watched the sun set behind the mountains. A gentle breeze blew across the plains, carrying the message of the desert.