My name is David Jones and I am embarking on a journey across the United States by bicycle. The million dollar question is – why would I do this? Why would I ride a bicycle across the country at this stage of my life? Why would I give up a perfectly fine career to peddle a few thousand miles? There is no simple answer. For many years I’ve dreamed about doing this but always found an excuse why I shouldn’t. Excuses are easy to conjure up. The late actor Sterling Hayden wrote his book “Wanderer” in 1963 and it is one of my favorite reads. There’s a passage in it that resonates with me and aptly describes the reasons most people don’t fulfill their dreams. Although written decades ago I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty timely:
“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.
“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.
What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by, The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.
Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?”
As it turns out, life really is short. We hear that phrase all the time. Life is short. I’m going to be fifty five in April and the years indeed have thundered by. I first had the dream of riding a bicycle across the U.S. when I was a much younger man. A great uncle of mine had done it a long time ago and it seemed like a grand adventure. Circumstances “prevented” me from going. I put prevented in quotes for a reason. We, each of us, create or justify the reasons why we should or shouldn’t do the things in our lives we want. In many cases we create the absolute reality that ‘prevents’ us from living our dreams. At some point in time however, each and every person has to look themselves in the mirror and instead of asking “why” we need to ask “why not”. Believe me when I tell you, it’s easy to not do something. I’ve done that all my life. I won’t even begin to tell you all the dreams that I’ve set aside because, to be honest, I created a life for myself that was less than authentic. I took the path of least resistance.
Over the last couple of years I went through a divorce which forced me to reevaluate my life in total. To recalibrate my goals, my values, my relationship with God. I’d gotten so caught up in struggling for the legal tender that it often felt like I was drowning beneath – as Hayden calls it – a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry and every manner of diversion. These things took a huge physical and mental toll on me.
I became involved with Share about five years ago and it has helped keep me grounded. I’ve learned a lot about homelessness that I didn’t know before. And the most important thing I’ve learned is that most people who are homeless are just ordinary folk like you and me. My step dad used to say to me: “You cry because you have no shoes until you see the man who has no feet”. When I was a kid that made absolutely no sense. Over the last few years it makes absolute sense. It moves me to encounter someone who is homeless. Often times I have to hide my emotions until after I am alone. “There but by the grace of God go I”. I look around me at my fellow board members and the staff of Share with a kind of amazement. The members of the community who give generously of time and money are a Godsend. So, my goal is to raise some money for Share along the way. I’d thought about getting sponsors to help me out and had offers of such but decided against it. I have the money and resources to do this and I’d rather that if anyone wants to donate money they do so by clicking on the link in the upper right hand corner of this page.