“Courage doesn’t happen when you have all the answers. It happens when you are ready to face the questions you have been avoiding your whole life.”
― Shannon L. Alder
If you read my post last year, Christmas S24O, you would have never guessed that I was battling depression. Or that I was still grieving the loss of my father even after one year had passed. Not to mention that I broke off a 2 year engagement and left a 9 year relationship with the same person. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling the Christmas spirit.
I was going to therapy at Westwood to help me treat my depression for a good 8 months prior to Christmas Eve. I had the day off from my full-time job. My spontaneous decision to pack up my bike and ride off for a few days set off multiple alarms for my therapist.
He discouraged me from going through with this trip. He voiced his concerns that I was going to be away during this time of year when I should be with family. We spent the entire session on why I was going and ease his mind that I wasn’t going to do anything irrational or stupid. His negative reaction to my 4 day excursion convinced me to just make it a quick overnighter. He even had me text him to let him know that I was fine. So I did.
Going through therapy was one of those negative stigma that society puts on people, but in actuality, it’s not a bad thing. I would highly encourage others to attend therapy as much as they could. If it wasn’t for insurance issues, I would still be seeing my therapist today.
On the Road
Looking back, I was definitely running away from my life. I just found an excuse to leave because I’ve never traveled alone before, but that was not the main reason of what I was really trying to do. I was simply running away from my problems. I was running away from my sadness and loneliness. It was the only way I knew how to deal with negative feelings.
As I pedaled my way up the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway, I kept on replaying my session with the therapist. I remembered how his mood shifted, and he showed that he really cared for my well-being.
When I got to the campsite, it was pitch dark and I had to wander around until I found the hiker biker site. I unpacked and set up camp. The silence and darkness were comforting. It was a surreal feeling to be out in the elements on my own for the first time. I was familiar with the process of setting up camp and preparing food, so my body was on autopilot, while my mind was somewhere else. I dozed off into the night as the winds howled through the trees above.
I woke up and saw I was covered in dust and sand. The wind did not let up the entire night, so I didn’t have the best sleep. Like the previous night, I was on autopilot again with my morning routine of brushing my teeth, preparing breakfast, and breaking down my camp before I pointed my bike down the coast towards Santa Monica.
It was a beautiful day. The morning was brisk, but warmed up fabulously towards the later part of the morning. My mood improved and became better as I added the miles. I saw a transformation and felt things I haven’t felt in a while. I was feeling joy and dare I say, happy. I even called my sister and brother-in-law to see if they wanted to have dinner that night. The three of us enjoyed a nice dinner at the only kind of restaurants opened on Christmas Day, Chinese restaurants.
Getting Away Vs. Running Away
I learned a valuable lesson that day. There is a huge difference between getting away versus running away. When I first started, I thought I was getting away, but in reality, I was just running away from my life at the time. Living in a miserable state where I felt like I was stuck and uninspired, I just needed to get off my butt and change my environment to get away from my world and just ride off for indefinite amount of time. It just took coercing from my therapist and an overnight bike trip to realize that running away wasn’t the proper way to deal with things.
365 days later, many things have happened. I am at a much better place in life. I am actually enjoying my time with family this year. Maybe we’re not back at celebrating Christmas like we once did when my father was alive, but we are planning to be together as a family.
The only thing that still holds true is that my mood always gets better after a long bike ride or bicycle tour to anywhere. The bicycle has been a constant in my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Unfortunately, even if I wanted to go on that same trip to Point Mugu this year, Mother Nature had other plans in mind because the campsite was destroyed by a mudslide a few weeks ago. Goes to show that the only thing you can expect from lives are changes.
Merry Christmas everyone and thank you for reading.