The Desert: Lessons for an Introverted Extrovert

surly bike, big bend ranch state park
I went to the desert recently and I had a revelation…
That’s how the story is supposed to go, yes? Human beings have a long history of going to the desert to learn something about themselves. Now days the desert has been replaced by air-conditioned therapist offices, but it’s the same thing. Personally, I go to the desert because I breathe better outdoors. Also, I really wanted to be a part of this bike festival that I was convinced would round out my experience on two wheels. 
The bike festival didn’t hold a whole lot of excitement for me, but I did get to do three of the things I love most: Ride my bike at high speeds downhill over rocks and over many many (freaking many) miles, pitch a tent and wake up outside, and think alone in the dark without the distraction of a glowing monitor. (Don’t worry…I dvr’ed Scandal and The Real Housewives of Orange County. I’m well rounded like that.)
One of the things I thought about on this particular trip to the desert is this: You will, if you are living even just a little—consciously or unconsciously—seek out situations that will place you outside of your box. This is good. This is important. This is the beauty of being human. This is what makes an individual a better human because humans don’t have to just survive like other animals do. Humans are in a unique position of being able to create an experience out of being alive. This is how humans better themselves. 
This trait, we humans possess, to experience life manifests differently for everyone. Some people will choose a different brand of deodorant than the one they have routinely used for years standing in the isle of Target one day. Others will take a different route to work, while others will decide to say hello to a stranger waiting to board a flight at the airport. For me, it manifested at a bike festival. It did and it didn’t, which brings me to my revelation which is: I am who I am. I will never possess any character traits I wasn’t born with…no matter how far outside my box I shove myself (thanks mom and dad).  I will, however, with every effort I make toward getting to the outside perimeter of my comfort zone become a better version of myself. I will make an experience for myself out of this effort, because this is how I feel alive. I use a bicycle to get me there, but it is different for everyone.
Back to the bike festival… 
I am, what someone recently pointed out to me, an Introverted Extrovert. Let’s pause for a second while I roll around with my socks off like a little kid in a ball pit of the sound of that dramatic label. I had grand imaginings that I would go to this bike festival and stumble into a community of kindred spirits. We would camp out like one big happy bike family in a tent city exchanging stories of the miles we have all cranked out over stupid quantities of beer and wake up everyday a little hung over but buzzing to hit the trail and ride until we can’t feel our legs. However, for whatever reason this did not happen for me. Maybe because I’m an introverted extrovert (with a tip of the scale toward introversion) and I have a tendency to observe before I jump into a crowd. Or, maybe folks didn’t know what to make of a girl solo trekking through the desert…they just didn’t know what to do with me? It was Valentine’s Day weekend. Perhaps they felt sorry for me and were afraid if they opened a dialogue with me it would trip some wire and I would fall into a pile of spinster-dom. I don’t know… but I do know for a fact that I was one of probably not one other forty year old women alone there with a bike rack half full of bikes. I am in a category unusual for sure. I wasn’t there with a boyfriend or husband, I pitch my own tent and I know how to build a fire. I wasn’t there as a cyclocross racer decked out in a full kit. What the hell is that about anyway? Road bike shorts and jerseys advertising corporate sponsors in Big Bend? The desert doesn’t care about your sponsors good sirs…the desert will hurt you. Even if you layered two road bike jerseys, they won’t protect you from this:
mountain biking texas, Big Bend Ranch State Park
Anyway, I digress…
I probably am a spectacle and if I weren’t me I wouldn’t know how categorize myself either. I don’t care really, because my desert is full of life. 
I went to the desert recently and I had a revelation and my revelation went like this: At the end of the day, I am who I am. I am here to make my own experience because I am human and I can. 

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