Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Where To Next - Day 11

The extraordinary thing about traveling alone or with one other person is the simple but rather profound reality that no itinerary needs to be adhered to. What roads we pick, what places we stop, how often we stop (other than for gas or the urgent call of nature or even our destination each day) are a matter of whim and circumstance. Take today, for instance.

We started out from Moscow, Idaho, at 7 AM and 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 C). We thought it was 8 AM, but were later told that the northern panhandle of Idaho is on Pacific Time, not 1 hour ahead on Mountain Time. Traveling south we crossed through Lewiston, Idaho (see Day 3) and began a day of great motorcycle roads with lots of swerves and curves as they followed the rivers by and large. We ended in Stanley (population 100), high in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho and 350 miles (550 kilometres) along to somewhere. The day was a great ride experience, and otherwise uneventful, except for a 5 mile 45 minute line up for no apparent reason except a 25 mph speed limit. Good thing it was not too hot.

Often we travel along roads with limited roadway or guardrails between our motorcycles and…well…let’s just say it could be a long or short scream before you would hear the splash. We stopped to show a 5-600 foot drop from the road surface on one corner, where I dangled my feet over for affect (quite safe actually).

Despite having no definitive plans and limited routine, decisions do need to be made even while on a carefree bike trip, as they do in life. I found myself using my helmet time today thinking again about how this trip is like life after my diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease. We have a general plan; to see scenery and experience roads that are new to us. Having decided that, we take into account our own abilities and equipment; 6-7 hours a day is as much as we can do safely, and since our bikes only fare well on good pavement we stick to secondary roads or freeways. But there are still hundreds of choices to make each day. And how do we make them? We consult, take cues from locals, avoid really bad weather if we can, stop when we are hungry, tired, low on gas, curious, need pictures for the blog or…

Life with PD presents the same types of decisions. Things are different, physically, emotionally, socially and maybe even economically, mentally, spiritually and relationally. Not exactly a vacation, but definitely different. People may stop us and ask why we are shaking or stiff, like people stop us now to ask about our bikes, where we are from and where we are going. That last query almost always causes me to hesitate, as it does with my PD. Where am I going now that my anticipated future has dramatically changed? It is like someone took all but the first and second gear off my Goldwing bike. That would certainly change the trip!

How do I learn to answer the question, “Where to from here?” in light of my PD? Perhaps it is similar to our motorcycle adventure:

1. My life’s mission and vision need to be affirmed, tweaked or realigned.
2. My future is best planned in consultation with others who are ‘along for the ride”. Who needs to be involved?
3. I need to consider what my body and “equipment” can safely so, both now and from time to time.
4. What do I need to do? Earn a living, maintain key relationships, and generally continue to meet my life’s obligations,
5. Then comes the fun part: what do I want to do with the ultimate nonrenewable resource, my time?

So, where to next?

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