When I started this trip I was running… running from mediocrity, running from complacency, but most of all running from myself and what I was sure to become. To put it simply, I was scared that the life I was leading was ordinary. I sacrificed too much as a child in order to ensure that my future was all but “ordinary.” I mean I went to the “right” schools; I got the “right” job; I even fell in love with the “right” girl. BUT there I was staring mediocrity in the face…so I RAN!
I guess the question you are probably asking yourself is, “What exactly do you think is ordinary?” At that time, I could only think of one thing….a white picket fence. This particular fence is actually the perfect metaphor for the life I was running from. Think about exactly what the “White Pickett Fence” symbolizes. First, you have the obvious middle-class suburban life, with a family, kids, house, and even a garden. Then, you have the underlying theme which is too profound to miss; the fence is a symbol of complacency, congruency, and namely, conformity. The idea that my life was headed down the road to my own white picket fence scared the Hell out of me! So, I found a solution and fast….TRAVELING!
I read somewhere that to live a life without traveling is like picking up an enthralling novel, reading only one page and stopping. If that were true, then my traveling sabbatical would be sure to answer all the questions I had. The QUEST began. During my numerous pitches to potential Ride Our World sponsors, I was always asked,”What is the trip really about?” My scripted answer was the same. “This trip is about self-exploration and self-definition.” My journey was not only across the globe, but it was also an inward search in hope of answering that age old question, “Who am I?” The trip was to be a DEFINING moment in the life of Cole Patterson.
As the global assault comes to an end, I must admit that I am no closer to answering that question today than I was when I left. Truth be told, I am more confused now than ever. What initially started as a quest inward has erupted into an a outward explosion of the ideals I was running from. My journey has SHOWN me that mediocrity and complacency are ALL in the eye of the beholder. The only person that can tell YOU your life is ordinary is yourself. You can have everything in the world and not be satisfied. After all, its not about getting what you want its ALL about wanting what you already have.
Now that I think about it, its far too easy just to say that an ordinary life is in the eye of the beholder. Truthfully, we must break from the clutches of what WE think society dictates as mediocre, normal, and middle-class. Is it not WE, as members of society, who CAN dictate our own ideologies? Is it not OUR own choice to NOT conform but REFORM an institution of thought previously instilled inside each of us? I firmly believe it is our duty to do so.
So as I sit here in Madrid enroute to our final destination–Paris, I find myself RUNNING once again. However, this time, I am running in a different direction. I realize exactly what it is I have at home. I am running towards my extraordinary friends, towards my extraordinary family, but REALLY I am running TOWARDS my EXTRA-ordinary life!