j o h n r a u x

two Journeys

There are two journeys that we all must make (exterior and interior).

The exterior journey enfolding is relational. It forges bonds through shared experiences.

Its filled with sites, destinations, memories and people.

The interior journey unfolding is foundational. It loosens bonds through honest expression.

It feels like challenge, exploration, learning and play.

I spent most of my time this July in Strasbourg, sharing ordinary life with my dear friends Jim and Melissa. Jim and I would get into deep conversations after nescafe in the morning. Melissa might chime in if our mutual appreciated rabbit trails ventured into scientific, religious or politically charged themes. While they translated documents during the day, I ventured out to play charades for food. (my pocket full of French didn’t help me in Germany)I purchased an old steel road bike to get around. On the weekends, Melissa lead us into the surrounding forests and mountains (Strasbourg is located between the Black Forest and the Vosges). In the evenings we would all retreat back to the olympics, internet updates, and more french culinary benefits. Life was meaningful, deep, and slow.
I hit the road six days before my cousin’s wedding(in Dieppe) with 800 km to cross by bicycle. Instead of following farmlands across France I decided to go up through Luxembourg,  across Belgium and down the coast of Normandy. It took 5 min to rediscover my trail name from the Pacific Crest Trail (Lost&Found -2007) as I had managed to escape the scope of my google printout’s view. With a compass and some perseverance, I found my way.

Each night I stealth camped off the beaten path. Outside of Brussels I crashed and almost called the adventure off but with a little luck and the kindness of strangers, my wounds were mostly mended and my cycle became recycled. I was awarded a shower, couch, and breakfast by a rural flemish man at a roadside Turkish Beer garden in trade for facebook friendship. (Can I say trail angel?) I discovered that I love “american food” which translates into merguez sausages and veggies stuffed in a baguette with harissa and covered with belgian fries. My respect for topography grew.

My ankle creaked and nostrils flared as the Normandy shores pulled down the skies upon my waterproof gear (fixed with dental floss and bike tube patches) and soothed my sundried skin. I had arrived in the land of my father with the added poetry from my french-viking heritage. When the sea calms, it is time to move. When the sea roars, it is time to love. The wedding was beautiful, vast, and instant.

In the end the two journeys are always one.

  • 24 August 2012
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