Which is best, A wandering heart or a soul at rest?
There are some among us who will allow a relentless tug on their shirt sleeve to lure them away from the soul-draining gloom of their humdrum existence. It is the magnetic pull to wander ‘out there’ to see and do what others only dream about. In the end, it becomes an overwhelming obsession to fill one’s life with grand adventures.
Such are the inspiring aspirations of a 27-year-old Indiana vagabond named Tyler Lucas Wood, whose enthusiastic personality, bold achievements and intriguing hopes stimulated the, somewhat stagnant, imagination of my wife and me during his weekend stay as our homeless house guest.
Here in quiet little Bay City, we hosted this unique stranger; who is not content to merely pipe-dream of being transformed by epic journeys of tremendous promise. But instead, has spent most of his short adult life preparing himself to assume the role of an uncommonly-motivated, human-powered, globe-trotting explorer.
Over his unrestrained adulthood he has professionally guided others on alluring outdoor excursions in Guatemala, Canada, the U.S., and New Zealand. Tragically, he had an auto accident in the enchanting land of the Kiwis that resulted in a serious brain injury. He confessed that, even as devastating as this incident and the lengthy recovery proved to be, it eventually yielded an unwavering determination to do something genuinely spectacular.
His ambitious plan includes paddling a kayak from near Chicago to the Houston Area; peddling a touring bicycle from Houston to Rockport; bumming a ride on a sailboat from there to Mexico’s Caribbean coast; then biking down through Central America and South America to Santiago, Chile; picking up a backpack and hiking the entire length of the Patagonia Trail to the southern-most town in the world; and, then walk back to Santiago for a flight to the USA. So, imagine, if you dare, eagerly embracing this daunting mountain of potential risk and uncertainty which (accurately) defines every ‘True Adventure’.
Since he was at our home from January 18th through the 20th, waiting for a favorable change in the wind and accompanying chill, you may have ‘correctly’ assumed he has duly completed the 1600-plus-mile solo kayaking trek from northern Indiana to southeast Texas. This watery route included the Wabash, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, along with an exotic stretch of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from New Orleans, Louisiana to Seabrook, Texas. By the time this column appears, he should be half way to Mexico on a significantly-larger watercraft to say hello to the remaining 18-months of this endurance trial.
Oddly, he is not relying heavily upon “self-sufficiency” to get him through this modern day Odyssey. Instead, he revealed to us that it is primarily acceptance of his tender “vulnerability” which has gotten him this far and will, likely; propel him to the end of this magnificent expedition!
You see, he has come to intuitively trust in caring forces to provide his essential needs and, occasionally, spirit-lifting wants along the way. Examples of unearned gifts received, so far, include lodging, food and drink, assistance and enriching human companionship, along with the slobbery affection of our dog - Casey. He gently emphasized that most often this agape miraculously appears at the moment he desperately needs it. And, we rest assured that providence will continue to prevail and he will return to regale us with stirring tales of both wonder and woe.
Basically, his challenging plans and actions speak loudly of adventures which are available to every one of us, ‘IF’ we are willing to step out of our comfortable little boxes and allow the loving universe to give us a big bear hug and a wet kiss. Thus, my child bride and I are grateful for his timely reminder that life is short and that the world overflows with limitless beauty and excitement.
So, in recognizing that we may all need to thoughtfully consider his poignant message and then righteously acknowledge that Tyler ain’t (sic) just talking just about his personally-selected approach to living large in order to satisfy his restless soul!
Each of us should ask ourselves the unsettling question, “What do I really want…stale contentment or the fruits of risk-taking?” It’s glaringly evident, we cannot have both!
So, until we meet again, “God speed my wayfaring friend!”