Follow the journey at www.TheGuyOnABike.com
I am going to ride a bicycle a very long way. Around 3,250 miles, from the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Bridge to bridge, from the Empire State to the Golden Gate, over the span of about two months.
This is how I’ve chosen to spend my sabbatical, pedaling across the continent and asking people one question, “What makes life worth living?”
I’m not raising money, or biking for a specific cause. I simply want to explore hope, the intrinsic drive sustaining our day to day lives. What keeps us going through hard times? Why do we get up each day and keep going? What is it deep down inside of us pushing our lives forward?
I spend the majority of my days working to convey hope in one form or another. Working with teenagers means wading into the waters of adolescence as they ask “What will I do with my life?” There is a false sense that you need to answer that question by your 18th birthday. Some of the most interesting people I know are in there 30s, 60s, and 80s, and still asking that question.
“What will I do with my life?” is, at its core, just a variation of “What makes life worth living?” We all want to do something that matters, something fulfilling and, usually, challenging. Thousands of years of civilization and we have yet to come to a consensus on what makes for a worthwhile life.
I believe it is because there is no consensus answer. There isn’t one thing every man and woman will find fulfilling. For some it is raising a family, for others it is non-profit work, for others it is corporate success. None of these things are inherently good or bad, what might be a meaningful and productive life for one would feel like a prison sentence for another. The “correct” answer to what makes life worth living changes with each person you ask.
That’s why, as I work with teenagers, it can be difficult to help them answer that question. The answer will always be different, and the key is to figure out what makes your life worth living. Once you have your answer, it becomes the reason you wake up in the morning. It is the pack you use to carry your burdens. It is the central hub of your decision making. It is the lens through which you view your entire life and the world around you.
The answer to that question is very important.
The Christian experience of being “born again” is essentially choosing to re-answer this question. Even then, it is too ambiguous to say simply “Jesus” as the answer. One person’s faith is played out in their service to others, another in their generosity… our faith, like our purpose, is uniquely crafted according to the role God intends for us to play in the world.
Because the question is so important, because I spend much of my time helping teenagers navigate the ideas of purpose, and because the most important thing I do is share hope, I’ve chosen to collect as many answers as I can about what keeps people going. In doing so, I hope to become a deeper well of experience for my own students questioning their futures, and a repository of inspiration towards doing bold, beautiful, meaningful things.
So, I will be biking across the country asking as many people as I can, “What makes life worth living?” I hope you’ll follow along my journey, and maybe even share it with those around you.
I’ve set up a website to chronicle my journeys and record the answers I receive. You can follow me at www.TheGuyOnABike.com, via email or RSS, or @theguyonabike for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Please share as much as makes sense, stories of hope inspire, and I’m hoping to supply as many hopeful stories as I come across.
Let’s explore hope together.