We’re sitting at a round table in a large conference room; most of us had just met. The man sitting across from me just got back from living for 6 years in Cambodia. On one side of me, a woman recently returned from Colombia. Sprinkled around the table are other returned travelers and workers; having lived in the Philippines, Paraguay, Gabon.
They’d all gone abroad for various reasons, some Peace Corps volunteers, some for humanitarian aid missions, others to explore. They all had found something, a secret, a meaning, a purpose. Many of them were more comfortable in a sweaty shack somewhere in a jungle than in this yawning auditorium in Denver Colorado.
We had all just finished watching Rising From Ashes, a film about a cycling team in Rwanda. Jaques Boyer, a famed American cyclist who fell from grace was asked to come to Africa to start a team. He was hesitant but intrigued.
He also wondered, ‘Why me?’
Bored with his current situation, Boyer took the challenge and said he’d stay for a few months. His life was transformed by the stories he encountered and the love he experienced from the people he met. Boyer still lives in Rwanda today.
The movie’s message was simple. Change is possible.
As the film shows the transformation of athletes and relationships, Boyer’s emotions come bubbling to surface. When asked why he decided to commit to the team he said; “The bicycle has always been my vehicle of choice.”
Through intense training, personal challenges and taking risks, Boyer had come to a point in his life where he wanted to pass the gift on to others. He was not perfect, but he couldn’t resist the urge to hop back on his bike. He never knew his vehicle of choice would take him to the dusty hills and deep green forests of Rwanda, but there he found the next phase of his purpose.
What’s Your Vehicle?
It’s not always a form of transportation of course. For me, it’s a pen. It’s what I write. For some, it’s healing hands of touch, for others its spoken words of kindness.
When I looked around the table at the returning peace corp volunteers, I could feel that most of them had had a profound experience that changed their lives. Some of them were still struggling to find the best way to fit their experiences into conversations that others could understand. Most of them didn’t share specifics, keeping fears and hopes quietly simmering in their souls. They knew that they had something else to do now, that their vehicle of choice was waiting for them to jump back on and ride to the next big thing.
You know your vehicle is scary to ride; facing more than just flat tires and bumps in the road. You face financial instability, judgment and vulnerability. The beautiful thing is that you find the strength to keep getting back up and moving forward, riding on and on and on. Because something big is happening and you feel it. Change is possible because of you.
Jump on your ride. GO.