Friday, July 4, 2008

Luke Peterson, I Never Wanted a Blog

We're in Wausa Nebraska, staying at Matt's grandparent's house with half of his extended family. When we first crossed into Nebraska the state sign simply announced: "Nebraska. The Good Life," Nebraska's bold, confident proclamation has proven true, from the first mile and the Cactus Palace in Venango, to our current home in Wausa. Throughout the trip, and especially in Nebraska, I've been constantly surprised by the kindness of strangers. A few days ago we got caught in a storm, there was a bit of lightning and the high winds made the rain sting as it hit our skin, forcing us to seek shelter. Luckily a woman named Tracy invited us into her home where we watched Oprah, and talked about pianos, creative writing, metabolic rates, education, and comfrontations with chickens. She also gave us candy bars. We were living the good life, even if it was pouring.

Riding a bike for sixty miles a day leaves me with a lot of time to think, and it's been surprising what sort of thoughts can float through my head. Sometimes I plan things to think about in advance, and sometimes it's a surprise. Tomorrow I will be attempting to define "The Good Life." Talking to people from big cities, the subject of small towns with "nothing there" often comes up, and I have to admit that I too was dreading the desert and the plains. What I've found, however, is not a greater appreciation for Chicago and its vastness. As we travel through the plains, I've noticed that people have an interest in what we're doing, and why we're riding. Many of these people talk with us at length, in some cases buying us dinner, trading shirts, opening bike shops to give us supplies and repairs at no cost. And yet, in Chicago, a I don't seem to meet as many people, there isn't such a sense of community. I don't know the names of the people who live in the apartment across the hall.

I don't yet have an exact definition of "The Good Life," but I know that community and kindness to strangers are a part of that. What else makes life good? We have almost 2,000 more miles to find out.

Happy Fourth of July

-Dylan

8 comments:

Dylan's parental units said...

Dylan, HAPPY 20TH BIRTHDAY (on the 5th)!!! Glad you're enjoying "the good life" in the state of your birth. We look forward to seeing you in Michigan soon! Love, Mom & Dad

Dan said...

Dylan your words are poetry. Keep pedaling, fellow Radiohead fan.

Shannon said...

hey dylan. shannon here. i like that u get to ponder things for miles on a bicycle. i like to go running outside without any music...partly for safety but mostly because i can do the same...ponder. u mentioned that there seems to be less of a community in the big city of chicago than the smaller towns u have been passing through. but maybe, it's there in the windy city...u just have to seek it out...make it happen. like, maybe make a huge pot of chili and just drop some off to ur neighbors that u don't know. and say, "hey, i'm dylan. i made some chili and i wanted to share it with u." i should do that back here in cali too.

in the short year and a half that i spent in chicago, i found some of the greatest community. i love the el, because it is kinda like forced community. and sometimes ppl are just waiting for someone to listen to them. i call it humanizing ppl. i try to work at that. one of my dearest friends came out of such a desire. i worked at the YMCA this past year and took the train 2-4 days a week to get there. i would see the same CTA guy and one day wondered if anyone ever really acknowledges the CTA workers. It started with a simple hello and name introduction and now I call Bill my "best friend."...in an endearing way. He is a 63 year old wonderful man who plays jazz music and burns nag champa incense from his booth. he has such wonderful stories. like...hip groovy stories and amazing ones too. if u ever are taking the el, u can meet him if u want. he was at the paulina stop but got transferred to the brown line addison stop and is there monday through friday from around noon until 7 or something. if u see him, please tell him shannon says hi.

whoa that was a lot of writing. ur blog just got me reminiscing and thinking. i think it might ur birthday. happy day dylan.bob. and hello to the rest.

Susan said...

Dylan,

It's Susan, Aunt Billie's daughter.
I am enjoying following your adventures and reading the Blog.
This is truly a life building experience!

I agree with Shannon about community in all places. It is easier in small towns but you can make it happen anywhere. I am picturing you with your pot of chili!!

Keep pedaling. Be safe.
Susan

Miss Lou said...

hey Dylan, it's your fan, laura johnson. I love this post. In this age of ipods, cell phones, and other sources of constant distraction, there seem to be few left who appreciate silent pondering. it's a beautiful thing. And your comments on community are really interesting. Having grown up in a small town, it seems that big city people seem so much more isolated from each other. But Shannon's right. Everyone yearns for connection - even chicagoans - and we can be the ones to initiate it. keep on musing and sharing your revelations with us!

EkulPeterson said...

DYLAN! Thanks for putting my name in the title. Now covenant people across the world will see me! WONDERFUL. Love you dylan! Very proud of you, keep strong.

-Luke Peterson

Laura said...

hey y'all, i spent last week on tour with the tim lowly ensemble on tour through the east coast. long story short, we drove 3,000 miles in 10 days, visited 14 states and stayed in a new home of a stranger each night. it was grueling but i spent a lot of time on the road thinking about you guys. i wasn't on a bike and actually did zero physical activity besides sitting and pushing an accelerator, i came to understand what it is like to constantly be traveling and moving and never knowing what is next. i learned the most from the people around me and the hospitality of those we stayed with. what i found was also this community you speak of. i too, coming from the city hold a very small ignorant view of smaller towns. yet i keep finding that these people have a great pride, kindness and commitment to the places they live and the people they are around. as a traveler, we are at their mercy, but they seem to know that the hospitality they give reflects directly onto their town. i think we have a lot to learn from this mentality. perhaps our hospitality and care for others as christians reflects directly on where we come from and our god. keep taking advantage of the people around you, learn from them, they are your tools, support and reason for traveling. i'm so proud of you guys, keep trucking through. i will cook you whatever you want when you get back .

Amanda Munroe said...

Yum - Laura, I'm with you. You make dinner and I'll make dessert.

Back here in Chicago I've taken up the challenge of creating community on the el. I was inspired by the book, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Pick it up for your next 500 miles if you can. I finally figured out (and you guys helped me do it) that you don't have to be afraid of people, especially on the el. Dylan's right. Paradoxically, it seems to me, we live so close together that we create personal space by choosing not to acknowledge each other, telling ourselves that what we're really doing is not bothering each other. So when it struck me that no matter where I am, God is with me, I started talking to people, and noticing them on the train. When you take the same train, you see the same people. Chicago isn't so big after all. And now I have three new friends: Laura, from Columbia, William, who lives in the suburbs but goes to Park Community Church, and some kid whose name I don't know that is going to Valparaiso in the fall. People want to be loved, and sometimes that means they want to be "bothered".

You inspire me. Stay strong.