August 11, 2016
We got our first view of the Pacific Ocean today. At the sight, I thought of the Robert Frost poem, “Once, By the Pacific.” But the words that came to mind were from another of his poems, “Devotion”:
The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to the ocean;
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition.
I am reminded of that kind of devotion continuously on this journey I am taking. The rolling hills and low coastal range of southwestern Washington and the Oregon coast demand a surrendering to the inevitability of the undulating terrain and the effort it takes to cycle mile after mile over its peaks and valleys. It’s a surrender that isn’t a submission, but rather a devotion to the task at hand—completing this pedal stroke, this mile, this moment.
As I have said before, people are confounded by the prospect of an 1800-mile journey on a bicycle. But the point is, we aren’t riding 1800 miles all at once. We’re simply devoted to riding one day, one mountain, one mile at a time, day after day.
There is another kind of devotion of which I am profoundly aware on this journey: the devotion of those at home who watch and wait for us to return. My wife, Elizabeth, has been shore to my ocean for almost 37 years. My parents, family and friends, too, create a shoreline and safe harbor for me that is precious beyond measure. These bicycle journeys I have taken the last two years remind me more poignantly than almost anything I do of how deeply my freedom is made possible by the devotion of my loved ones who hold the curve of home steadfastly while I wander.
I am humbled, and deeply grateful, just as I am when I see row after row of waves rolling to the shoreline as I did today.
I am blessed.