On our very long ride yesterday during the gamut run of emotions from completely awestruck by the lush rolling hillsides to wishing I was actually anywhere but on that rain soaked 10% ascent, I started to think about, of all things, super powers. I became acutely aware as every muscle in my body was screaming and I was wishing with all my might that the next hotel would have hot water that I have a not-so-secret super power.
At any moment yesterday, I could have chosen to stop. I feel pain, I can change it.
I could have gently laid my bike down, called the van, hopped in and gone home. I could have skipped the cold shower waiting for me, the rice and eggs (again), the chill I rode with for half the day, the burning sun for the other half and the physical pain of repetitive motion and constant movement. I could have chosen a different environment at any point on this journey. I could change my location to someplace more pleasing and seek the comfort I've become so accustom to.
But, how, you may ask, is this a super power, Liz? We can all do this. But in truth we all cannot. In these most rural villages that we have been riding through, living in those shack-like homes lined up along the only road in their town are people who day in and day out take cold showers, break their backs in the rice or sugar cane fields, work in the pouring rain and the blistering sun. They sit along the road and meticulously chop wood and lay it out to dry, they work their calloused hands and burdened backs yesterday, today and tomorrow. They have been doing this their whole lives and most will continue to do so for the rest of their days as will their children and their grandchildren too.
They do not have the choice to stop when it's too much.
Yesterday looks like today looks like tomorrow. They can't choose to upgrade to the comfy hotel when their bed feels to hard, turn the hot water on, take the car instead of walking, or treat themselves to a massive sushi dinner when their "trip ends". To choose comfort and pleasure over constant labor or struggle and to change your situation is a super power; a gift that not everyone has.
This revelation that I have something so special at my fingertips was followed quickly by this question: How will I choose to use this newly discovered power? I would love to live in every country in the world, moving when I'm tired of one place on to the next; see the sights, drink in the cultures and be happy as a clam for the good I've done for myself. Or, I can do what we're doing this month. I could choose to use my gift of choice and means to do something hard for me, but oh so good for someone else. In our case, a whole school full of someone elses. I could choose to buck up when the going gets tough instead of always choosing the comfortable option. And today I do.
I've never been more grateful for the power to change my circumstances, and I've never been more ready to grin and bear it in solidarity with those who do it everyday and call it life. For them I pedal through the toughest pain and in my priviledged way 'relate' to their daily grind. And in the spirit of their joy, I find the joy in the simple things like the natural beauty or a delicious fried banana after a hard day and the satisfaction of another journey well done.
To all of our supporters, thanks again for using your power of means and a generous spirit to benefit others and increase their chances of having the power that comes with a choice in life. The children of HCM, Cat Dang and the H2Hers hope you know that you are our super heroes. (tights and cape optional, but encouraged)