I want to explore. The desire for the ever new and ever different, the wildness and thrill of going where I haven’t been, lands me in situations where I don’t know how to behave. It gives me tales to tell and unkown terrain to point my life towards. Life becomes a land of tests that I stumble through, where folly is inevitible and survival is a delicious meal of remarkable moments. This is the latest manifestation of the urge that rules me.
There is a price to pay for such foolhardy pusuits. My parents have tried, in a very encouraging way, to warn me about the surprising splats the birds of adventure drop on such intrepid souls. One can wind up feeling very depressed sitting alone in the wilderness, covered with the ugly signs of failure, convinced that the powers of the universe have been provoked beyond forgiveness, while the bombs of hubris rain ever down. But I insist on venturing out, with hopes that you’ll help me along by laughing with me at my sufferings, and sharing my wonder at all that happens.
It actually takes quite a while to build up the hubris required for these endeavors. I’ve only attempted one other exploration approaching this scale, which I have yet to complete. And of course I can’t resist an occasional small outing. Practice runs. Preparations for suffering on a greater plane. I guess that’s why my days as an undergraduate college student and computer pecker have lasted nine years.
But at last, just when I am feeling ready to challenge the lords of cosmic jest, they are handing me a diploma – Bachelor of Computer Science, Class of 1999! I think I’ll write on the back, “This ticket entitles the holder, Dylan Kuhn, to forget about pecking computer keyboards for a year and tease the All-Powerful Mysteries of the Unkown in any way he pleases. Run Dylan!”
So this it. After long deliberation, I have chosen the way I want to spend this year of my life, the last year that will ever begin with a ‘1’ on my calendar. There is nothing else I’d rather do. I will say goodbye to my treasured friends in Chicago, and the people at DePaul University who have treated me with unsolicited kindness and encouragement. I will laden my father’s basement with my possessions. I will, by some means that I hope I think of soon, transport my weird oversized bike and gear to Cresecent City, California. I will break a bottle of good beer over the bowsprit (which looks like a chainring with an Andre the Giant sticker), and cluck like a chicken to demonstrate my humility to any omnipotent eyes. And I will pedal north, along the coast, to live the best way I can think of.
Then I’ll go back to Crescent City. But so as not to cut things short, I’ll visit a few people first. I have some family members around the country I have never met, who have generously offered to feed me and put up for a night or two. There’s my cousins in Minnesota, my aunt and uncle in Vermont, another aunt and uncle in South Carolina, and more in Arizona, just to name a few. Friends in New Mexico and North Carolina. Fellow Institute of Sociometry members all over the place. The question is, what can I give back to all these people who are reaching out to me?
It will be tough. I won’t have much to offer. But I have to do something. Being attracted to lofty goals, I’m picking something I think is rare, hard to come by, and of great value to all of us. I want to help us know ourselves. By making a continuous 12,000-mile string of all these disparate people, I’ll have the opportunity to create a group of a sort that is both new and old. The group will communicate through me with stories, news, pictures, and emails. Songs. Jokes. Troubles. Triumphs. I’ll do my best to collect these things, learn from them, and pass them along. I want to help create and recreate a piece of our culture that belongs to us. I’m afraid that the forces that hold a group like ours together are being lost and trampled, but I hope to become such a force myself, to give something to all of you that will outlast this indulgent year of my life.
This wouldn’t be easy for anyone, but it will present special challenges for me. These years of nurturing my hubris have contributed to my already introspective bent. I don’t talk to people easily. When I do, I often say things that turn out worse than my worried mind even imagined. My subconscoius creativity in this respect can be surprising. I often have to actively supress it. And somehow nine years of education in engineering and computer science have not contributed noticably to my social skills. My friends are people who can easily forgive a faux pas, a stifling remark, an accidental insult. I train this ability in them.
It will be a rough road in many ways. For a first-ever bicycle tour, it may be a little excessive. But this is my chosen adventure. I welcome you all to join me in it, in any way you’d like.