Leaps and bounds

Three friends set out from here in the cold rain the other day on a four-month bicycle trip (two adults and their five year-old daughter).

I knew I’d be very excited for them, a little worried, and entirely in awe of the undertaking, but something else happened that I didn’t expect.  Throughout the day I found myself mentioning their departure to others who don’t know them.  Probably I just wanted people to know that I have friends who would take on such a thing.  But in the course of these conversations I watched as people really considered the scope of what’s possible, beyond what we tend to conceive of in the course of a regular day. “Wow,” they’d begin.  “I don’t know, that’s a long time…” And then sometimes “It would be amazing to see part of the world that way, though, wouldn’t it?”

It’s not news that when you do something bold, or unusual, or ambitious, it inspires others to push their own limits.  But it’s easy to forget how widely the inspiration can spread.  My friends have never met the eight or ten people I told about their trip, nor the handful of people those people are likely to tell.  But their choice to strike out in the stormy weather, with the promise of all manner of adventure, fright, relief, and victory, prompted these many strangers to ask themselves what they wouldn’t otherwise have asked – Could I do that?  Would I want to?  Should I stop not doing the things I’ve been hesitant to try?