Sink into your dreams

Turkey left me ragged. I can’t hide it now – something has fallen away. It trickled off me, turned black under my nails. What’s left looks hard and cold, and I see it in every window I pass. My face is a gravestone.

I’m not sad. I always knew the wide-eyed kid who grinned his way across the Arctic would never make it home. I wanted to feel everything, to swallow whole the sunsets and snow caps, to touch the road and count the stars. And I did.

But in the past months I’ve begun to understand the rawness, the pain that comes from opening my heart so wide. Now there are times when I need to squeeze it shut, to feel nothing in order to survive.

Mike on Bike cycling along the Black Sea coast and over the mountains of northern Turkey.

Mountains of northern Turkey

I guess that means I’m grown up.

In Istanbul I ate a bad meal or shook the wrong hand. My stomach rebelled. For a week I couldn’t eat, and when I forced myself, I couldn’t keep it down.

I didn’t care. I kept cycling, stopping to be sick and then pushing forward again. For 600 km I climbed mountains that dwarfed those in Alaska, and I did it with nothing inside but a few pieces of toast.

I don’t remember much about it, just random moments. An army dog chased me down the highway. Someone gave me corn on the cob through a car window. It was so hot that the road tar stuck to my tires. I didn’t know what day it was.

And then it was over, for no reason at all. The road found a place between the mountains and sea, flat and straight. My strength returned. In the 500 km between Sinop and Trabzon I finally noticed Turkey. I inhaled forests of pine, found a beach and swam, licking the salt from my lips.

I spent afternoons in village squares, mobbed by kids who peered under my bike, poked at my bags. They’d frown, unsatisfied, and sit on their haunches in front of me.

Had I biked all the way from Canada? Was I a Christian? Did I miss my family? Was the trip worth it?

Curious Turkish children as seen on a bicycle tour of the Black Sea coast.

Curious Turkish kids

Yes.

What did it cost?

Everything.

I’ve traded joy and misery for the quiet confidence in knowing I can conquer both. Take away passion’s extremes and it becomes an arrow, white hot. Now I can go anywhere.

Turkey is behind me. I am in Georgia, preparing for Azerbaijan and then Iran.

I am ragged but new. Smiling just a little bit.

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4 responses to “Sink into your dreams

  1. “And I declare myself free
    from ignorant love. You easy lovers
    and forgivers of mankind, stand back!
    I will love you at a distance,
    and not because you deserve it.
    My love must be discriminate
    or fail to bear its weight.”
    –Wendell Berry

  2. It appears that you’ve got more twisting and turning, scraping and clawing, grasping and clinging to do yet my friend before you stop right where you are, surrender to everything that has happened, happening, will happen and realize that not a single thing has to change for you and the world to be at peace. But who am I to spoil your journey? Keep on trucking and inspiring the masses while you’re at it Mr. Boles!

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