These evenings, I've been taking Django out to water the bushes. Mostly he just walks a few yards from the door, knowing that, when we go back in, he gets a snack before we go to bed. Cheeky hound. Still, we play the game and step out into the finally blessed cool of the star-studded night. The moon has been huge and bright, the eye of a quiet god gazing down. I lie on the concrete walk, still warm from the sun, look up to the moon as it climbs through the dark limbs of a scraggly oak to the east and feel the breeze coming down off the mountains. The stars have been pushed back, retreating in deference and inferior candle power--at this distance anyway. I stretch out, look and feel and think.
Why am I doing this? Hassling with great expense, uncertainty, risk? I've discussed this before, but it keeps coming back, a question that will never be put to rest even after the deed is done--if I am so lucky. One question comes up frequently when I tell people what I am doing: What are you raising money for? What's your cause? What is implied in the question intrigues me: Why would anyone do such a thing unless it was for some other cause? The tour in itself is not worth doing? The cyclists' actions must be justified by a cause around which others may rally? I wonder if people are gun shy, always ready for the sales pitch. I've been on the other side of this exchange: "I'm raising awareness for...." "I'm raising funds for..." "The group I'm raising funds for...." More power to them. Most of these seem to be worthy causes though I sometimes wonder how much actual benefit comes from the funds gathered. Whatever, the impulse is morally sound.
So what's the harm? I considered for a while turning my ride into such a vehicle for fund raising, but then I started to think about how that might shade my experience and the way I engage with people as I travel. Once you take this step and commit to a cause, that responsibility hangs over everything, especially your interactions with others. All of your meetings become somewhat conditional. You can be polite and have pleasant exchanges, but the inevitable pitch must be cast: "By the way, I'm raising funds for...." Some might construe this line of thinking as a rationalization, a way not to have to deal with fund raising. Perhaps there is some truth in this, but there is truth in finding problems with conditional encounters, too. My goal is to see, discover, and write about my experiences. There's a book about trans-continental cycling lurking in here somewhere and to that end I'm channeling my energies.
Still, to my handful of readers, should I attach my ride to a cause, pedal to peddle? At this late date, I can't go door-to-door, but I can post some links to worthy causes. Do such sales pitches annoy or inspire? One value of this is that if someone asks, I can direct him to my blog and the link. I can have a few cards printed up for those who ask. Otherwise, I can just let each experience develop naturally. Certainly, if I can help others, why not? On general principle, however, I'd rather not have to chase down people and drag their wallets out for my endeavors.
The moon arcs higher, its light streaming down over--Django's goofy snout hanging above me. The constellation mega-hound! He straddles my head with his fore-legs and reaches down to slobber in my ear. I hear ya, boy. There's a snack in your near future, you betcha. I stand up, stretch, and go in for the night.