Written by: Lauryn Kostopoulos
What will you get out of the adventure?
Over the past few weeks I have seen sunny California, the Grand Canyon, a town of six people, and lots of road kill. As I started unblinking during the bike ride on the interstate, I was nervous that a semi or an RV was going to just veer into the shoulder and knock me off my bike. Those butterflies turned into something else once I stopped concentrating on the ride, and looked up to see the mountains off in the distance. The sun was rising to the east, which light up the sky a beautiful blue, while shading the mountains that were staring at me. It was a nice cool morning as we left small town America, but the temperature quickly rose once we were on the road for a few hours. At one of the rest stops along the way a dance part erupted on the side of the road. As more of my fellows bikers got there they started to join in and just share a laugh and smile. Then it was back on the road to get to the days destination. While riding something hit me:
For the past 3 years I had the dream to become an Occupational Therapist so I could help as many people as I possibly could. The thought of helping others and making a good amount of money sounded like a good idea. But as I started to remember the people that I have helped over the past summer on the build sites, I realized that my dream was rather selfish. I realized right then and there that changing my major to social work may have been one of the least selfish things I have done in my life. I wanted to be an OT so I could be rich in a few years, have a nice big house, and afford all the finer things in life. I wanted that job for myself. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this, but when you’re raised by a women that is very unselfish, who devotes most of her spare time to helping my sports teams with fundraising, and creating events for the community, one would expect better of that 20 year old.
When I made it up my first 8 mile mountain pass, without being passed by the speedy riders I was extremely proud of the huge accomplishment and myself. I did have to stop a few times to get my legs back under me, but every time I got off I got right back on and kept pedaling. Being over 10,000 feet above sea level and at the continental divide is a measurement of the resilience and determination that I have while on this trip and in life.
I have fallen more and more in love with the ministry as the days pass. I am getting up early every morning and getting on my bike to go to a new town, while climbing up mountains, biking through canyons and gorges, and even some reservations. While in Page, Arizona a few of us decided to spend our off day at the refreshing Lake Powell. The desert surrounds this beautiful turquoise colored lake. The shuttle ride to the lake took us about 15 minutes and on the way our driver, Rachel, was giving us facts about Page. You could tell that she loved what she does because she was telling us how our ride for the next day was going to be and what we should expect to see. It was full of hills, but the beauty of it was the views from the tops of them. The sun was shining at the tops. There were moments where I wanted to quit and just get off my bike, the hills were one after another and getting longer as the day went on. It was 100 miles of just hills. WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO DO THIS!? Well, once I got over my throbbing legs, and myself I was able to see the true beauty of the ride as a whole. We are biking across the country that God created for us to help those in need of a decent place to live. I get to help in the movement to end poverty housing. My friends and family tell me that they are proud of me and that helps me to keep going even when my legs are screaming at me to just stop. How wrong would I have been if I had given in to my exhaustion?
In the days that follow, I found myself going down some pretty amazing downhills. I didn’t have to pedal because I had the wind guiding me down at about 40 mph. That question that was haunting me earlier, “Why would anyone want to do this?” was answered. I went up each one of those hills and killed my legs so that I can enjoy the downhills. Everyone on this trip with me is here because they are unselfish and want to lend a helping hand while seeing what this country has to offer. And then I realized that we are the ones that are making this movement a reality. We are not just talking about it and informing people of the impact, but we are actually getting our hands dirty and doing the hard work that others may not want to do. I no longer want to be an OT… I want to be a social worker so that I can have more of an impact in this world. I want to be the person that kids can come up to and feel safe talking to. I want to be that glimpse of hope for the elderly and put a smile on their face every day. I want to be someone to help the veterans out since they have given so much for us to be safe. I want to be someone who makes a difference and not just talks about it.
I don’t know where this Fuller Center Bicycle Adventure will take me, but in know I want more of it. I want to see the hidden places this world has to offer. I want to get my hands dirty to help those in need of a decent place to live. I want to be the change you see in the world. It’s a terrifying thought to see a dream you’ve had for so long be diminished so quickly, but it’s even more exciting to find something so amazing to be passionate about. This ride holds meaning. It stays with you for the rest of your life. Being enthralled in something that makes a difference is never something to be ashamed of. Sure, this field doesn’t make a lot of money. Sure, its sleepless nights of worrying about your patients. Yes, there will be times where there is push back but you know what? Those cons are severely outweighed by the good you do by carrying out the work you love. We humans liked to be thanked. We liked to see the outcomes and results, but I would rather know that I helped make a difference in ones person’s life, than to be stuck at a job I didn’t love.
I implore you to find something you’re passionate about. Go out into the world and profess the change you want to see. Find something that is thankless, dig in, and get the job done. Find something that you love and don’t treat it like it owes you something afterwards. Your growth, your mental capacity, and your emotional state all depends on the work you put into it. They are a consequence of the job you do, but it will not actively be given to you. Things change. People change. Places that once held meaning to you change. That is one thing that is constant in this life.
I threw that old dream out the window while riding my bike across the country. What will you throw out? What is no longer acceptable to you? What standard do you hold for yourself and those around you? I’ve never really had the opportunity to think about these things and reflect ad much as I do out here on the open roads. It’s a habit that I’m hoping will stick, but I’m asking for you to help that habit stick with you as well. We humans are creatures of habit. It’s now time to break the old ones.
“Be the change you want to see.”