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What Is The Shelf Life Of A Dream?

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By Frosty Wooldridge


Back in 1975, to ride a bicycle across North America from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, well, “You are crazy!” my colleagues resoundingly denounced me. “What’s wrong with you?” several asked.

(Sandi Lynn bicycling the West Coast from Canada to Mexico)

From the moment I made my decision, I really didn’t know what I was doing. In fact, I didn’t have a clue as to what I faced. There were no books to give advice. There were no magazines to help me process the enormity of the journey.


And yet, the journey, whatever it was, pulled at my heartstrings. It gathered its compelling lust in my mind. It might be a dream, perhaps a bad one, but something inside me gripped my soul.


Should I wait to live my dream? Was it too frightening for me to pursue in reality? What horrible things awaited me? At the same time, what amazing things awaited me?


That same yearning pulled at Lee Rogowski last year when, as a senior citizen, he pedaled from Key West, Florida to Maine. It pulled at Canadian Arie Hoogerbrugge to ride across Canada down through America and into Central America. Pam Gilbert pedaled from Croatia to France. Dutch woman Hera Van Willick has pedaled around the world. Follow her: video titled “Pedal.”


Notice some are old, some middle age, some very young.


So what is the “shelf life of a dream?” Can you measure it? Can you extend it? Do you want to put it off for as long as possible? Why?


  • A fellow writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, said, “I told the universe (and anyone who would listen) that I was committed to living a creative life not in order to save the world, not as an act of protection, not to become famous, not to gain entrance to the canon, not to challenge the system, not to show the bastards, not to prove to my family that I was worthy, not as a form of deep therapeutic emotional catharsis … but simply because I liked it.”

My friend Scott Stoll, who spent five years cycling around the world, said, “The world is my canvas and my bicycle is my brush.”

Interestingly enough, my 10th grade World History teacher, Mrs. Barbara Rainwater, after reading about my world travels, said, “Frosty, I must say that I never thought that you would amount to much of anything…but it appears that you are living an interesting life.”

What that told me…you just never know what you are capable of at any time during your life-journey. Some people wait a long time to live their dreams and others “grab the dream by the neck” and live it, NOW!

Your Creative Life on a Bicycle

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert spells it out:

  • “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”
  • “…it’s all kind of amazing—what we get to do, what we get to attempt, what we sometimes get to commune with.”
  • “Pure creativity is something better than a necessity; it’s a gift. It’s the frosting. Our creativity is a wild and unexpected bonus from the universe.”
  • “Through the mere act of creating something—anything—you might inadvertently produce work that is magnificent, eternal, or important.”

What am I getting at? Can you answer your own question about your own dream and how long you want to put it off?

My friend Frank Cauthorn, who has cycled across America, down the West Coast, the Katie Trail, Ragbrai, Erie Canal, and pedaled much of the Lewis & Clark Trail, said, “The best road is the one that leads to the horizon.”

Hopefully, you grab that dream, drag it into your guts, make plans and begin the journey. It might be a weekend ride. It might be a week exploration. You might purchase a guided tour from an endless number of touring companies. You might be lucky enough to ride with tour leader Tom Middaugh of Adventure Cycling.

In the end, whatever churns in your craw, please answer it. Lee Rogowski in his late 60’s, did. Hera Willick answered the quest in her teens. Frank Cauthorn started in his 60’s. Scott Stoll answered in his 30’s. He said, “Screw this job, I’m out of here.”

I recall once when four of us touring cyclists sat around a campfire on the Pacific Ocean, all of us headed south along the Pacific Coast Highway. One of the guys walked back toward the fire after taking a bathroom break. Before him, the setting sun boiled into the Pacific. Streaks of pink light backlit the clouds. Pelicans flew in lines across the waves. Two dolphins breached beyond the surf. Plovers squawked in different groups as they ran back and forth into the advancing surf. In the dark sky east of us, the night stars twinkled. The North Star shown across the heavens. A meteor streaked across the ink-black of space to put an explanation point on the day.

“Gees,” our friend said, “You guys are sitting in the middle of a dream.”

“Well hell, Frank said, “Get your butt over here and join us.”

And that my friend, is how to take advantage of the shelf-life of a dream!

Frosty Wooldridge, 6 continent world bicycle traveler

Don Lindahl, Frank Cauthorn, Gerry Mulroy, Robert Case, Frosty Wooldridge riding the Lewis & Clark Trail




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