There’s a script to life that tells you what to do, when to do it, what to say and how to interact with others. It is society’s script of social norms.
The script is a bit like a milepost guide to interstate exits, only it details life stages instead of restaurants and accommodation.
If you stick to the script and travel along the freeway of life, your road is well-defined and engineered by all those who have passed through before.
Somewhere along the way, I got off that scripted freeway and found myself far away from all of the social norm mileposts of the things you are supposed to do in life.
Once you get away from that car-pet-marriage-kiddo-house-career freeway of life, there is no milestone guidebook. The road gets rough and rocky. However, once you start down that rough and rocky road outside of normality, it actually becomes comfortable to be uncomfortable. You learn to embrace uncertainty and not worry about what you are ‘supposed to do’. I’d never wanted all the things I was supposed to want and never wanted to do all the things I was supposed to want to do.
So once I got off the scripted freeway of life, I never really wanted to go back.
Yet, in 2017, the rough and rocky road became incredibly perilous. One mosquito bite changed my life forever. What had once been a rough and rocky road with good visibility and a clear idea of who I was and where I was going became an ill-defined single-track filled with hazards and incredibly dark clouds of uncertainty. There was no clear path to recovery – in fact there was no indication that there was a way out at all.
The virus robbed me of my life. For five years. I always did the absolute most my body would allow, but that was not much at all. To say the fatigue and neuro-immune issues were debilitating is the greatest understatement ever. The virus totally screwed up my immune system and set off an inflammatory cascade that saw health problem after health problem emerge.
I endured; I survived; but I did not ‘live’ for those five years.
Some people with post-viral fatigue syndromes and the cascade of health crap that comes after never recover. Some people remain housebound or bed bound forever. And for those that do recover, it is not really a recovery, but a remission. Contracting another bad virus, too much stress, or an emotional or physical trauma can bring it all right back.
But I have turned the corner. I have come out the other side. For now, at least. I will always have to be careful to not overdo things. The 130 mile days are over. Strenuous days will need to be followed by rest days. I will need to take a much more relaxo approach to cycling going forward.
See the journey in the photo below.
My health is not yet robust; I am still healing. But being outside on the bike and spending nights in my tent is the greatest healer I know. And after all of the hell of the last five years, you will not find anyone anywhere more grateful to be out riding and to have energy again than me. I have worked so, so hard to get well and endured so much, that every day I wake up and don’t have to absolutely scrape myself out of bed is such a precious thing.
The experience has made me even more certain that the rough and rocky road is MY road. I will never head back to the freeway of life to resume a more traditional and easy path. I am certain that what I need to do is go ride, get fully well and just be open to what the rough and rocky road may offer. The rocky road has good visibility again.
The rocky road, however, still does not have guideposts. We’ve gone off script and I’m tossing it to the wind. There are no pre-planned routes for this tour. There is nothing specific I am setting out to achieve. There is no need to go any certain mileage or speed or plan out point-to-point goals. There is no end date.
After five years of being trapped by my body, that freedom, and an openness to whatever may be out there, is exactly what I need. This ride remains unscripted and I cannot wait for the story to unfold.
Acknowledgement of Country
In the spirit of reconciliation, I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. I pay my respect to their Elders past, present and emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. I celebrate the diversity of Aboriginal peoples and their ongoing cultures and connections to the lands and waters of the country through which I travel.
I will acknowledge the Nations of the lands through which I pass on this tour and will camp and travel with respect for the land and its Traditional Custodians.