Day 57, 42 miles

I hold in my hand a stone. It is a stone of little significance, well, it was a stone of little significance, to me at least, when I picked it up on the rocky shore of the beach at the ferry terminal in Anacortes, Washington. It did not catch my eye or stand out in any way, more so it was simply the one I happened upon when reaching down to pick up a small stone. For the next two months, it sat in my bags, adding weight with no function or benefit of its own. It was not shiny nor striking, nor sharp, nor any characteristic that is strongly definable, only a bit larger than a pebble really, a dark grey matte finish, smooth from its wear on the shore and just a bit oblong.

In coming along on this journey with us, in adding just a little bit of weight to what I had to push along, it now carries with it the weight of what these past two months have come to represent. I shall place it in my collection of stones which also are stones of little significance to the unknowing eye, stones from my childhood and travels, stones that each represent a life experience.

So it is with a swollen heart, poignant in the telling, that I recall this last day of our adventure. Before we depart back into the anonymous multitude of  modern lives, busily striving for stability of the status quo atop our spinning wheel, I want to thank you, the reader, for your audience over these past two months, for without you, I am merely talking to myself. In that regard, none of this has been done in isolation. I could not, nor would not have wanted to complete this trip without my companions, Sonali and Joe, who each brought and bring a life full of their own experiences colliding into my own, enriching mine through our interactions. And, behind my companions, an impressive support system, a web of relations of relatives and friends alike, the lines of which were sometimes blurred, but just as well, for family takes on many forms, and better still if the whole world is included.

Pulling into the shore in Guilford, the thought and care behind the gathering at the water was not lost on us, the love that went into the preparation of food and signs, the shared ride with family and friends in those final miles, and the people important in our lives who came to celebrate with us, could not have made it a better experience. As we dipped our tires in the water, I was left with an incredible sense of pride to have shared and finished this journey with Sonali, even though she technically won by touching the water first. There were few expectations, and all were greatly exceeded.

At the end of the day, despite the cause we were riding for, despite our affiliation with school, despite our desire for adventure, and our interest to be outdoors, we were just a couple of people, plodding along in the world, making our way in a certain reality for a certain eternity of time. There was no need for us to pedal across a continent, no one forcing us to do so, our lives did not depend upon it in any regard, but in carrying out this task, we have found meaning in an arbitrary thing which, over time, may define and decide many elements of our lives that we wouldn’t have been able to predict or plan for otherwise.

So when I hold this stone now, it represents a lot, something to aspire to, that I myself may be a stone of little significance, who takes on meaning in the world, that when called upon, comes to represent more than flesh and bone. If I can give meaning to a stone, cannot I give meaning to a life? This meaning may only exist for a short time, to just a few people, before being tossed back into a heap of scattered rocks, but in some way, its story, and all of our stories, are written into the unspoken history of the world and the ever altered fates of those that follow. In a hundred years this stone may sit on the Atlantic shore, unassuming to passer-bys, as a grave stone in a cemetery takes on similar fates, silent stories still imbued in it. But in that light, everything and everyone around us has untold and unremembered stories, in a universe that infinitely expands under the eyes of the observer. There is plenty of story in the world for those who seek it, to appreciate them as we find, and hold sacred the ones we will never know but still feel their presence.

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