Going after what you want requires drive and determination. Most of us have seen the movie Forrest Gump and can vividly recall when Forrest ran across the country because he “just liked running”. First year student, Mitchell Joseph, did something incredibly similar.
Unlike most of us who packed up our cars and headed to Saint Lawrence, Mitchell decided to bike 400 miles from his home in Connecticut. That is no small feat. There was one basic question I wanted answered: why? What would inspire someone to take such a physically and mentally demanding trip?
He replied to my question, laughing. “Just for fun. There wasn’t any real reason behind it. I like biking.” Mitchell embarked on the trip with his sister who last year together biked up and down the Pacific Coast. They began in San Fransisco and ended in Vancouver.
When they arrived in Vancouver, there was a firework display going on in town. “It was like being congratulated. Even though we finished the journey, getting there was most fun out of all of it”.
The other reason he decided to bike to college was equally nonchalant. It happened to be an opportune time that fit into both of their scheduals. The first day, however, proved the most difficult for both him an his sister. Neither were prepared physically which wasn’t the ideal way to begin a six day journey. By the end of the day they had by taken a few wrong turns and by having a late start, they biked under the blazing hot sun.
However, Mitchell spoke animatedly about the trip. They had gorgeous weather and didn’t listen to music, but had conversation along the way, along with periods of silence where they appreciated their surroundings. I wondered if Mitchell would suggest the trips to anyone else and he replied with a enthused: “Absolutely! Just being able to go out and support yourself is an experience,” he said, “You absorb so much more on a bike – in a car, you might see a mountain for three seconds. But when you’re riding you get to see the mountain for an hour or so and notice the wildflowers – it’s a completely different experience.”
Most of us can’t imagine biking for days without a purpose. Mitchell took the opportunity to clear his mind and mentally prepare himself for the excitement here at SLU as well as appreciate his life and his surroundings.
I was curious to see what his first thought was when he finally arrived in Canton. He spoke about how he took the ride to think about everything he was leaving behind and saying goodbye to back home, as most of us did for freshman year. There’s excitement but a kind of sadness about leaving our homes behind. Finally arriving brought back similar bittersweet feelings for him as he left an old life behind to start over.
There isn’t a much better way to start off a year than an accomplishment like biking from state to state. There’s something to be said about the type of drive and determination that makes a person want to accomplish such an inspiring goal, and makes us all take a step back and assess our achievements. So take a chance, do something that you love, or take a wild trip. Run across the country, embrace your life.