It happened a lot faster than I thought it would. The end, that is. I had some high-level plans about how I would get out on the road and where I might end up during the first couple of weeks on #WorkFromMotorcycle. The back half of the trip was purposely open. Free for whatever might happen in my journey or what might be required for the “work” part of the journey. A few things happened in rapid succession after I crested the midway point that led to a homeward-bound desire:
- A short vacation
- A work trip across the country to Washington D.C.
- Some personal revelations in Portland after returning from D.C.
I make lists. I make lists of things I need to do. I makes lists of things I like. I make lists of things that are important and things that are irrelevant. I list things to clear my head and to load it up again. I also like to make summary lists. They help me process and clear mental clutter. I need to get the rest of #WorkFromMotorcycle out of my head. Here is my list to do just that.
There are things that have been lost as time moves forward. Or, perhaps more accurately, that we have left behind in the name of convenience or progress. The eloquence of finally crafted oration. Heartfelt expressions of our beliefs and feelings written with care and attention. Common courtesies to each other that convey respect and a general honoring of our collective space. Shorten everything! Brevity! 140 characters OMGWTFBBQ! Sometimes I feel like we have crafted a culture uniquely suited to removing the ability to practice the art of the pause, the art of taking a breath and ruminating on the information bombarding us. What sort of society might we build if people were encouraged to pause for just a moment and listen? Or contemplate? Or consider? Or just be?
During my #WorkFromMotorcylce time in Seattle I had the pleasure to spend an afternoon at Ancient Grounds, an establishment that beautifully blends a calming coffee house atmosphere with an incredible array of cultural artifacts and antiquities from around the world. I have always loved the atmosphere of shops like Ancient Grounds. I acquired the taste of browsing the strange and the curious, the diverse artifacts of cultures far removed from mine by time, space, or both on trips to State Street in Madison, Wisconsin with my parents as a child. There is something about wandering amongst the remnants of long dead peoples or the objects of history and tradition from societies half a world away. Something that captures my imagination while quieting the noise in my head. The buzz of background conversation that is constantly assessing the time, my location, where I need to go, who I need to meet with, what’s next, what’s next, WHAT’S NEXT?
“That’s the idea” explained Roland. To give people a quiet place surrounded by beautiful, meaningful things. An environment apart from the rush of the world. And to make a really good cup of coffee for those who wish to stay for while. Roland is the proprietor of Ancient Grounds and, in my opinion, a man out of time. A rock of steady, calm energy in the world while the suits and the tourists and the hustlers sprint by his door. That doesn’t mean he moves with a glacial pace however. I witnessed Roland effortlessly concoct an array of espresso-based beverages for an unexpected rush of coffee enthusiasts while simultaneously providing a customer with the backstory of a tribal mask from Africa. Roland has purpose to his hurry and a respect for pausing in very deliberate ways. Two of my favorites quotes from Roland during my time at his establishment:
- ”Here at Ancient Grounds we serve coffee flavored with milk, not syrup and milk flavored with coffee.”
- “Might I suggest positioning yourself a bit differently at this table, thus providing additional room for potential customers?"
Purpose and pause are beautiful things. We work hard to find the people and the joy in our lives. We should take time to enjoy them. Here is a story about finding that time.
Advice From Xena: Respec
Respec. The process by which a gamer, typically of the MMORPG persuasion, will change up the skills and abilities of their character. One night in a Seattle hostel I talked about “respec'ing” in life with Xena (spelling assumed because it would be awesome). We found that both of us were on a journey to reset ourselves. Xena talked about how she regularly took these journeys. That it is necessary not just to take time to recharge in life, but to reset. To find your center on a consistent basis and not let it drift too far away. Find a bit of equilibrium outside the noise of our day to day lives back home. A place to evaluate who we had become, step aside from that persona, and rebuild ourselves from the ground up. Regeneration. Reconstruction. Reconstitution. To make new what is old. To empower what has grown weary.
Thank you Xena...
In the middle of my #WorkFromMotorcycle time was PAX. It was good to see my friends. It was good to play games. It was good to get lost in the crush of nerds brought to this mecca of communal geekdom. Thank you my brothers, Leitbur and Aramis, for being part of my family.
Another break in #WorkFromMotorcycle came when I flew from Portland, Oregon to Washington D.C. for a half-week client work session with other members of GoKart Labs. I’ve been to D.C. several times before, but never for work. What an amazing experience! We met with a phenomenal client and I work with some phenomenal people. District Taco. Secret Thai. Museums, museums, MUSEUMS!
It did feel very strange to say goodbye to all my coworkers while I stayed for the weekend and then fly back to Portland.
I road the giant bridge. I walked on the beach. I saw the tarp-encased house from the movie Goonies. I camped and read. I thought about when the right time to ride home would be.
The House of Tigers and Peacocks
Things that I love about Portland:
I also love Airbnb. I would pick an Airbnb experience in a heartbeat over a hotel. In Portland I had the opportunity to be the guest of Tiger and Peacock. They run two big houses hostel-style. The guests and caretakers intermingled regularly in a comfortable, home-like atmosphere. We ate dinner together, watched movies, talked about metaphysics and life journeys. Tiger said he love's the business but was most rewarded when guests referred to it as feeling like home. This was the right place for me to wrestle with the next phase of my journey. The right place to ask difficult questions and think about what might come next in my life.
Gaia, Sydney, Pious, Don, Topher, Andrew, Tiger, Peacock - Thank you. For everything you gave me without even knowing. By just being who you all are in the world.
The Train Home
It was time to go. The journey felt like it had ended and was waiting for me to catch up and be home already. I mulled over the decision for some time during my days in Portland. At the end I dropped my bike off at a warehouse to have it shipped home and hopped on the Empire Builder. I watch the countryside roll by and relived each and every moment that had brought me to that point. There were beautiful people, bright days, long nights, quiet times, bursts of noise and celebration, dark moments, and everything in-between. I’m so grateful for the journey, the connections, the tears, the embraces, the sadness, and the joy.
I know a part of me is still out there. The bike pulled over to the side of the road. Sitting with my back against a cooling engine, staring out over the world. I’m sitting there with all the incarnations of who I have ever been in my life, all the people I have ever known, and all the places I have ever seen. Waiting to begin again.
- 3.5 weeks / 25 days / 600 hours / 6.85% of 2015.
- 1,950 miles
- 34 hours in the saddle
- 18 people I will never forget
- 1 life changed