Here’s Why I Choose To “Torture” Myself
Written by Matthew Ryan, LMSW
In the next two weeks a buddy and I will depart on a 7 day adventure to bike from Savannah, GA to West Palm beach, FLA. We bought the plane tickets and booked a hostel in Savannah for the first night. The rest is up to fate. This is the 3rd time I have set off on a multi-day bike trip through unknown territory, and without a concrete plan. I have been asked countless times why I choose to use vacation time to “torture” myself. I would typically respond by chuckling and explaining “I don’t know, I just like it.” However, that answer is far too vague to suffice. The truth is, until now, I never put much thought into it. Now I have and here are a few reasons for why I have consciously chosen to “torture” myself..
It’s A Real Adventure
The word adventure is used far too loosely in today’s world. Is someone who eats octopus really adventurous? Is the person who goes on an organized vacation to a resort outside of the USA adventurous? Hmmmm, this is is questionable. To me, when I hear adventure, I think Lewis and Clark, Finding Nemo, Cast Away, and Daniel Boone. An adventure is defined as “engaging in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory” (Dictionary.com). These bike rides are just that, exciting and unknown! There is something completely exhilarating about the unknown. I know there is a way out of the adventure (the flight home), but I have no idea how I am going to get there! One night we may be sleeping on the side of the road and another we may be in a stranger’s living room. It’s an incredible voyage!
My Faith Is Tested and Always Perseveres
It would scare me to know what these trips would be like without the presence of God. Along with fresh underwear, fire, and water, prayer has been essential for the success of these trips. Through prayer, I have experienced, strength, stamina, joy, and motivation. I have met many people on these trips that were clearly placed in my path through divine intervention. Without the distractions of technology and the daily grind, the presence of God is crystal clear. I am sure to start and end everyday in prayer. It seems that each day is a perfect work of art composed by God. In fact, I trust that God will carry me from point A to point B, no questions asked. There are not many worldly things to fall back on when you are in the middle of nowhere. I wouldn’t dare test God, but I do know that he has a close eye on me during these trips. Without faith, I wouldn’t be bike touring.
One thing is for certain about these trips. It’s going to be as hard as anything. It’s physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging. I am at a point in my life in which personal growth is both crucial and essential to developing into the man I want to be. I want to devote as much time as possible to my personal development, even my vacations. I am not ready for the stereo typical resort vacation. That will be saved for when I have a family.
Each of my bike trips has played a pivotal role in who I am today. There are obvious physical challenges, but there are extreme emotional and mental challenges as well. I have experienced a full range of emotion on these trips. At the most challenging times I have experienced shame, regret, and disappointment. I have been on the verge of quitting many times. However, being able to muster up the ability to persevere (with the help of of fellow riders of course) has been amazing. I will be able to reflect back on these experiences for the rest of my life. The sense of accomplishment received from these rides is unmatched.
So there it is. That’s why I torture myself. Join me!
Matthew Ryan, LMSW for Bike and Brain