5 Life Lessons From the Road
By Jessica Bihari
The two month east coast tour has come to an end. The Otesha Project has given us a unique opportunity to spread a loving message of social responsibility and environmental justice to communities and schools across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Since we are a mobile community, we have been cycling anywhere between 20-100km per day on our journey from Fredericton to Halifax. This has given us a lot of time to get to know one another, enjoy the landscape, and think … A LOT. Through spreading our message we have all gone through vast personal growth. It would be impossible not to considering the physical, spiritual and emotional challenges of this trip. Below are a compiled list of life lessons from the road:
1. Letting go of control
While we had a detailed itinerary, tested out our bikes before every ride, and discussed day-to-day logistics at every evening meeting – things still did not go as planned. Torrential downpours made cycling difficult, spokes were lost, and Google Maps led us astray on more than one occasion. Through these experiences we needed to be adaptable and go with the flow of what the day brought us. This is such an important lesson to learn in life – when we realize not to get shaken up by what life throws at us and instead we breathe, relax and try to laugh at the situation rather than face it with a scowl.
2. Wants vs. Needs
There was only so much we could fit into our panniers. It really made us think about what we actually need to live and question the societal structures that fuel our desire to want unnecessary items.
3. Oh Those Hills…
Aside from our newly developed quadriceps, those East Coast hills shared with us important life lessons. Whether people in the group were avid or inexperienced cyclists everyone had their own struggles with those hills. It was neat to see everyone get over those hills at their own time and pace. Just like in life, we all find our own strategies to get through tough times and one person’s way is not necessarily better than the other. The important thing is you practice becoming resilient and overcoming struggles. Also, some of those hills looked scary – we had no way of seeing what was on the other side of them. We all had to make the choice to overcome our fears and start pedaling up those hills. And you know what? Once we were halfway up those hills we realized they weren’t as bad as they looked. Just like in life sometimes we may be too scared to start working towards a seemingly impossible to achieve goal. But once we start taking actions to achieve a goal – it doesn’t seem that hard to obtain anymore. A little bit of courage and effort are all we need to succeed.
4. Bike Buddies 4 Life
Since one of our safety rules was that at least 2 people have to bike together, skills and personalities could not always be matched. We always managed to have fun, be supportive, and resolve conflict respectfully when necessary. This highlighted that often in life, the walls people build up around themselves can be broken down through respecting their limits and accepting them where they’re at.
5. Fear – don’t let it control you
When you’re on a 2 month bike tour, it’s not hard to see how the roads are set up for cars instead of cyclists. Some of us had close calls with vehicles, others had scrapes and bruises from falling. At the end of the day, we chose to get back up on our bikes and try again. Just like in life, we will sometimes feel defeated by struggles but the bravest thing we can do is get up and try, try again.