What’s The Best Part of Your Day?
It was the summer of 2015 and just a month-or-so prior I was working my way through another semester of college as a restaurant manager, food photographer in Colorado Springs, CO. A month-or-so prior to what you ask? Prior to starting a 3,000 mile bicycle ride from New York City to Virginia and eventually finishing up back home in Colorado.
This ride had a purpose. It would become a fundraiser ride in collaborative support for Nepalese farmers and ranchers who were affected by the earthquakes in their area. Til’ this day, I’m unsure how I gained the support from my peers, but before I knew it, our team had developed for the cause. To my surprise, I was doing little to no training on my bicycle before the start date and much of my time was filled with interviews, planning logistics and hosting events to gain local support. Personally, I do enjoy social interactions just as much as the next guy, but being the center of attention wasn’t exactly my happy place.
The Himalayas to New York: Finding Isaiah
As fate would have it, I’d soon have a partner to share the spotlight with. My good friend Isaiah would return to Colorado from months of travel. Just two weeks before the start of the cross-country bike ride. Isaiah had been trekking in the Himalayas during the earthquakes and was carefully evacuated from the mountain range to the city of Katmandu. This is where the disaster’s wrath was felt in a big way with Isaiah witnessing villages collapse all around the mountains.
Once out of the mountains, Isaiah volunteered himself to help with building emergency shelters and with fundraising. With news of Isaiah’s arivial back in Colorado, I discussed with him the bike ride and fundraiser, then extended an open-invite to join me on the trip. Long story short, he accepted and next thing we knew we were driving to New York City.
Isaiah is the type of person that requires a small novel to explain his being, but for the readability of this article, I’m going to talk about him at surface level. Isaiah is a creative. To be specific - a filmmaker, photographer, writer, activist, mountain climber and beard grower. His demeanor is stoic and his mind is developed years beyond his age, old soul. Where most people avoid diving deep into emotional tribulations, Isaiah has built a home and flourishes there. Basically, he’s a good dude and I was stoked having him along.
Fast Forward to the Start of the Trip
Isaiah and I arrived in New York City, and by arrived I mean stumbled. Within one hour of being in the urban jungle we received a ticket for a parking violation. I’m pretty sure that went unpaid, sorry NYC. We did manage to get our feet underneath us with $1 pizza slices for lunch while simultaneously pulling off a roadside interview with a local bike messenger. That was Isaiah’s job for the trip. To tell stories when he could. He was going to be the videographer while driving his car and following me on my bike. It didn’t take long for me to understand that he was going to do his job well. My job was seemingly simple - ride my bike every day for 12 hours straight.
There was one thing I’ve yet to mention, this was my first “big adventure”. I’ll use a metaphor to describe my actions towards the beginning of my ride:
I’m sure you’ve heard parents say, “we were strict and worried about every little thing with our first kid. The rest of our kids practically raised themselves!” Well, I was the worried parent. This was my first experience with bike touring, the outdoors, and to be honest…
What Was the Best Part of your Day?
My days were spent riding my bike, eating without control, and convincing myself that if I was going to get rear ended by a car then it was all meant to be. Isaiah had a much different experience. It would only take a couple hours for him to cover the distance by car that I’d cover on my bike in the day. Isaiah had to get creative to fill the time. He would go on runs, do yoga, and work on photo/video edits in coffee shops along the way. For some, this would be a fruitful adventure, but for Isaiah it was tough to say the least. While riding each day, I couldn't help but imagine the places his mind would go. From his experience in the Himalayas, he was dealing with trauma his eyes couldn’t unsee and while inside of a Nissan SUV… alone.
During that first week I noticed his discomfort with everything, yet I appreciated his strength through it all. Now I’m not going to pretend like I remember the campsite or which town we were in even, but a question from Isaiah happen here that unknowingly changed my life. Isaiah had already reached the campsite and was cooking spaghetti on the picnic bench with the two-burner stove we had brought along. I said hi to him while getting out of my cycle clothing and into something dry and less smelly. After some moments passed, he asked me that question that would end up impacting the rest of the trip. He asked,
“So, what was the best part of your day?”
Like a child being asked by their parents about their day at school, I answered somewhat grudgingly. “Oh, I don’t know dude, probably the breakfast burrito I had this morning. They gave me extra guac for free”. Isaiah then said, “that’s awesome” and started asking me more about the burrito and what was so good about it. At the end of each day for the weeks to follow, Isaiah would ask me the same question again, and again - what was the best part of your day? After four or five days I found myself anticipating his question. Naturally, I’d make sure I had a good answer for him each time the question would arise.
Lesson for Life
This question presented over and over again would refocus me. I was now spending my days thinking in terms of gratitude and appreciating the little things instead of focusing on the countless miles ahead or blisters that were developing in unimaginable places. Without realizing it, Isaiah’s simple question had changed my outlook on the entire trip. It was a lesson for life.
Our conversations now consisted of stories and laughter. Each day felt like a story to tell and for that I’m thankful for. More than four years later, I’m still telling this story and it always ends with this final thought… questions demand answers.
So now it’s my turn to ask…