On February 16 I will set out with my dearest friend, Alana, to complete the Trans Ecuador Mountain Bike Route, stretching from the northern border with Colombia, winding up and over mountains, through rural landscapes, past Ecuador’s glacier-capped volcanos, all the way down to the tropical southern border with Peru. We will pedal our bikes alone. This is my manifesto as to why: (leerlo en español)
The world feels like it’s falling apart. It has fallen apart as we’ve known it. Every time you turn on the news, there are dismal graphs with grim arrows pointing directly, quickly into the abyss.
For months we’ve been held hostage in our own homes. We’ve been cut off from our communities, cut off from our friends, cut off from our very family. We can’t kiss our ageing parents. We’ve become afraid of our very breath.
We’ve lost income. We’ve lost jobs. We’ve lost people we care about. We’ve lost our very hope for the future.
These are the moments that have the potential to destroy us. We look around in wide-eyed shock, and the world is full of so much fear and despair, more than we have ever known -we feel its cold fingers at our throat trying to suffocate us. But it is also that in these moments, stripped away from the banal distractions of our previous life, we have come to realize who we really are, what it is that really matters, and finally, for once there is enough quiet around us that we can hear the soft notes of an inner song reminding us that there is something bigger, something deeper in this life that we only had a hint of before. Listen to the song. Move into that deeper.
The challenges in front of us seem overwhelming. But they are not. The forces at play in the world seem bigger than us. But they are not. And we know that they are not because while current circumstances have rubbed away our outward sense of security, our inner core now shows through, and we can see it is made of diamond strength.
For every push, there is a pull.
Every action is required, by definition, an equally strong reaction.
This pandemic has stopped the economy, culture, society – human interactions – at a global scale.
Our reaction will be at the same magnitude. Each of us has a choice, and it is our choice now to mark this moment as the then of before and now of the future. The now of the future that will define our communities, our culture, our future as the human race.
Crossing Ecuador on a bike is a crazy goal. It means biking in the freezing downpours, lungs burning from a lack of high-altitude oxygen, flat tires, broken gears, and so many, many miles up and over the Andes Mountains. But if we can do it, it will be a symbol that proves that crazy dreams can be made reality.
It is a test case to prove the point. It is a spark, a tipping point, a catalyst for others to see and believe that they too can reach out past this darkness, and we can come together to fight for our common future. To fight for the very belief in hope. That hope has not died from this virus, but that hope is very much alive in each and every person who is connected to a ventilator struggling for breath, hope is alive in each and every child who still is born into this world, eyes full of gorgeous wonder, and hope is alive in the hands that join together, fingers interlocked- reaching across fears that divide- to come together to build our brave, new world.