I was reflecting on a conversation with our sponsor, Johann from Tracks4Africa, that I had before the trip began. They were one of our first stops in Cape Town, helping us to load up our GPS and computer with the latest maps, and gave us paper copies as well.
We were chatting about border crossings and potential challenge spots, but he said that he didn’t think that really it would be the people, logistics or anything like that that would make the trip hard. It would be the trip itself. Surviving each other, the environment that is constantly changing around you, and never settling anywhere. And he was right.
Un-normalcy is definitely the hardest thing about this trip. It is the biggest battle we fight. I’ve been saying recently that when I go home, I just want to work at Starbucks. Now that’s probably not reallllly what I want to do. But as Aaron would say, “It’s everything your life currently ISN’T. Consistent, normal, and filled with good smells”.
Everyday you walk into an entirely new situation, never really sure what to expect, who you’ll meet, or what your life will look like 24 hours later. It is partially really exciting, but wearing on a long term basis.
I wonder if un-normalcy will ever become normal?
People travel for all sorts of different reasons.
Some people are running away from their current reality.
Some people are running towards their dreams.
Some people are just looking for a place to belong.
Some people travel for special occasions, the happy, like weddings, and sad, like funerals.
Some people travel for work; business suits, expensive dinners, fancy wines.
Some people travel to “find themselves”.
Have you ever watched the people in the airport, bus station or in their cars? It is fun to wonder what people’s stories are. Who they are; where they came from; where they’re going.
In preparation to travel to Africa and start our 7000 mile walk; I have read and watched many stories of people who have done long term treks, domestically and abroad. For me, the most interesting piece of all of their stories; is their motivation(s).
For some, the pure unknown is what drives them. For others, it is the challenge, to do something ‘out of the ordinary’. A few have been looking to prove a point, that ‘people are good’, or that ‘YES it can be done’. Some feel driven by their faith, and feel a specific calling on their lives to complete the task. Others seem to be on a quest, searching for something, they’re not sure what they’re looking for, but I would venture to say that it probably falls within the spaces of ‘community’, ‘belonging’, ‘completeness’, or ‘peace’.
Since we have a few people involved in our walk, I think we gather a bit of all of these motivations. For me, this all started as a mission driven by my faith. But that’s not the whole story, for everyone on the team. There’s part me, of us, that want to prove that impossible doesn’t exist. There is part of us that is quite excited for the adventure of a lifetime. Although I’m not sure we’re “looking for something”, we know that this experience will be completely transformative within our own lives. And we do want to tell the story of the people we see, especially the story of clean water; and ITS transformative power in the world.
Our main objective is to make a difference for the cause of clean water; to raise funds for charity: water, so that others might have access to the most BASIC resource of life.
But I would be lying if I didn’t admit all of those motivations were at play in this journey for us.
One of the best pieces of advice I got when starting to plan this whole thing was, “You better be 100% sure that you are committed to this walk, and know WHY. Because on the 16th mile when your legs are aching, when you are emotionally drained, and what to curl up into a ball in cry, but you still need to walk another 5 miles, you better have a reason to continue to put one foot in front of the other”.
So, as people have considered over time whether or not they should walk with our team, that was always my question to them. Are you REALLY sure? Are you REALLY committed to seeing this through? WHY are you doing this?
I knew if they couldn’t answer that question of WHY, I didn’t want them on the team.
I knew if I couldn’t answer that question myself, I shouldn’t go.
But I AM convinced that we have STRONG motivations, STRONG convictions to continue on. There is a great reason WHY.
Even when we are tired. Achy. Sweaty. Mosquito bitten. Drained. Hungry. Thirsty. Weak.
WHY? Because this is bigger than us. I know that this walk has the potential to be effective beyond our wildest dreams, to inspire others, to make a difference for the cause of clean water.
The potential of that reality is worth it EVERY TIME to me.
And when I doubt the potential of the dream, I still have other motivations to drive me. My faith, the adventure, the others we walk in honor of, so that hopefully they don’t have to walk every day, and be tired, sweaty, achy, sick, for water.
These past few weeks have literally felt as if we are running towards a starting line. It’s the mad dash to the beginning of the unknown.
And it’s all worth it.
As we challenge ourselves to keep going, I challenge you. WHY do you do what you do? What drives you? What motivates you? Do you know? Know WHY you do what you do. It gives it meaning.
Here we go.