Flexibility is an important attribute in physical endeavors, but flexibility of a different kind can be just as important. Tim and I were reminded of this last week when we sat down for an interview with a reporter from a local newspaper. The interview itself was exciting as we have sent out review copies of Two Are Better in hopes that readers will help promote our book (after reading it, of course!). During a 90-minute interview, we shared some laughs and relived the trip of a lifetime.
In the midst of the interview, the topic of scheduling came up. The reporter observed that some people need, or at least long for, a great deal of structure in their daily activities. They like to do certain things, like eat meals or go to bed, when the clock strikes a certain hour. He wondered how such an approach would work on a long-distance bicycle tour like ours. As we considered his comments, Tim and I both quickly arrived at the conclusion that those who require such high structure to survive will not thrive on the road. Flexibility and spontaneity are staples of a successful tour. Plans are great, and prudent, but they will invariably be altered before the day is out. We chuckled. We think high structure and adventurous living are opposites. Nevertheless, one needs both of them to live successfully and to fully engage in life.
Let’s look at the need for structure on a bike trip:
• After bicycling many miles each day, we needed sleep–and the best time for it was off the bike! Sleeping eight hours each night makes days more productive and helps “keep the wheels from coming off.”
• Eating regularly is crucial, but you can’t be too particular about where and when you are going to eat on a bike trip. If I had insisted on the best restaurants or a certain type of food, (i.e. organic, gluten-free, etc.), I would have been in serious trouble! Riding logistics often determined the specifics on meals. Whoever plopped the watering holes onto the map did not take our mileage intervals into account. Sometimes, interesting places would alter the schedule. And weather will always have a say.
• We needed to follow the map and plot our course each day. Although we had the freedom to change course, veering from the Adventure Cycling map would have left us in “no man’s land” more times than not.
Structure and adventure can be roommates. They just need to be communicating during those bike tours, vacations, and out of the ordinary experiences that we long to have throughout our lives. They need to co-exist with the same harmonious give and take of a good marriage. I think of our wedding. We needed a lot of structure to plan and carry out the extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime day. The wedding itself is not as much of an adventure as the marriage that follows. And married life needs both structure and adventure to thrive. The mundane, daily scheduled tasks, like self-care and maintaining a household, lay the groundwork for the more adventuresome times in life.
Do you have just enough structure in your life to maximize the adventure? Although you’ll need a judicious amount of scheduling, don’t run such a tight ship that there is no flexibility for enjoying the blessings of life.