Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What's in a Vision?

Photo by Thomas Brown

"If the world is saved, it will be saved because the people living in it have a new vision."
        - B

What does one do after an epic journey?  That had been the question nagging me since November 2012, a relentless idea that couldn’t go away.  There was always the intention to evolve RISE into something that lived and grew beyond the tour.  We began the journey to ride in honor of the brothers we lost to suicide for suicide awareness, but I always felt there was more to the mission.  I just always failed at articulating a philosophy.  Finishing the tour didn’t end with a hand delivered instruction manual laying out a definitive RISE philosophy, nor a full explanation of the next step.

      Looking back now, I can admit that my return to Phoenix and the ending of the tour seemed extremely anticlimactic.  I can’t tell you what I expected, but outside of a few beers and simple conversations over dinner with a few friends.  I didn’t feel as if I had ever left.  Maybe I was anticipating a pay off at the end of the journey, something tangible that I could hold.  Instead, I returned to a world that continued on just fine without me, and why shouldn’t it?  I guess it would have been nice to have RISE invited into a joint venture, offers for assistance, perhaps job opportunities. Nothing of that nature was ever entertained.  It seems the pay off I was looking for ended up being the experience itself? 

I learned a lot on the road.  There were things I agreed with and of course, many things I disagreed with.  While saving all of the nuances for a different blog post, I can say that what I disagreed with, in a nutshell, was vision.  I can say that what I disagreed with was vision, whether it was vision of the future or vision of the fundamental cause of mental illness, depression and the outcome of suicide. It seemed like the range of what people were looking at and for, was much too shallow; a constant tunnel vision that prohibited people from looking outside of the subject of suicide.

In the 37 years of experience on this planet, I’ve come to believe that everything is connected to everything.  Though I will admit that this belief system opens up an entire new arena of problems.  Furthermore, I must concede to the truth that the same issues I disagreed with on the road were now keeping me stagnant; I had lost my vision.  No wonder I wasn’t bombarded with offers from outsiders to partner or engage RISE.  Without a vision, what are people to follow or ally with?  How does one direct or inspire without a vision? 

Maybe I was burnt out and just needed to rest, which is probably true, although it was more that I was overwhelmed with information from the experience and I needed time to process.  After bouncing from one corner of the country to the next for eight and a half months, suddenly becoming sedentary and working a day job can be quite jarring in its self.  I had so much more going on in my head that needed to be processed: the tour, how I had changed, what to do next, and on top of it all I began a long distance relationship.   With everything I was doing, how could I process?  I was overwhelmed with far too much mental and physical stimulation.  It wasn’t till seven months after tour that I was able to accept that I was finally home.

I guess it was the obvious step that I needed to make before I could move on.  RISE was an important life event for me, but it was far more than a bike ride.  Before the tour even began I knew it was going to frame the way I walk through the world, perhaps for the rest of my life.  By the time I accepted that I was once again a part of the Phoenix society, I was already well into the outline of the book I wanted to write and was finally ready to begin the steps of putting it together.  Still, I was no closer to articulating and crafting a vision of RISE.

Rather than beat my head against the wall, I decided it was best to begin writing the book and trust in the process that I would find a place for RISE in my world, if not the world at large.  The writing is a process and as it has been going well, from the beginning, I knew it wouldn’t be enough.  I still had the pressing feeling of needing to articulate the purpose of RISE.  I finally realized that having a vision wasn’t for the sake of informing any following of supporters we may have picked up, but more so for my own understanding.

Along with my writing, I began researching subjects that had inspired the idea of RISE.  I began going back to my library as well as finding new sources of reading material.  I wasn’t just reading to pass the time, I was reading with purpose.  Over the next year, I have finally begun to make sense in my own mind what I want to achieve for myself.  While this is an ever-evolving process, the ever-changing sum is the ever-adapting philosophy that is RISE.

     Perhaps some people just fall into their future without direction or the help of a road map.  In no way am I so fortunate.  I was in need of a vision in order to direct my purpose and thus the purpose of RISE.  Though I didn’t want to box myself in or anyone else that may feel they resonated with what I was producing.  Any vision that I would be comfortable with needed the freedom to adapt to any experience and situation, not being confined by ridged dogmatic law.  Nonetheless I required a vision, a horizon to set my eyes on.  Less than two years since I finished the tour and returned home, finally, I have a vision I trust, understand, and believe in.  Where it goes from here, I leave to fate.

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