Why Wait? . . . Just Do It!

Why Wait? . . . Just Do It!

From A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Why Wait? . . . Just Do It!

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.

Joseph Campbell

My father told me that God must surely have a reason for me being the way I am today. I’m beginning to believe it.

I was the kind of kid that things always worked out for. I grew up in Laguna Beach, California, and I loved surfing and sports. But at a time when most kids my age thought only of TV and the beach, I started thinking of ways I could become more independent, see the country and plan my future.

I began working at the age of 10. By the time I was 15, I worked between one to three jobs after school. I made enough money to buy a new motorcycle. I didn’t even know how to ride it . But after paying cash for the bike and one year’s worth of full insurance coverage, I went to parking lots and learned to ride it. After 15 minutes of figure eights, I rode home. I was 15½, had just received my driver’s permit and had bought a new motorcycle. It changed my life.

I wasn’t one of those just-for-fun-weekend riders. I loved to ride. Every spare minute of every day, every chance I got, I averaged 100 miles a day on top of that bike. Sunsets and sunrises looked prettier when I enjoyed them from a winding mountain road. Even now, I can close my eyes and still feel the bike naturally beneath me, so naturally that it was a more familiar feeling than walking. As I rode, the cool wind gave me a feeling of total relaxation. While I explored the open road outside, inside I was dreaming about what I wanted my life to be.

Two years and five new motorcycles later, I ran out of roads in California. I read motorcycle magazines every night and one night, a BMW motorcycle ad caught my eye. It showed a muddy motorcycle with a duffel bag on the back parked on the side of a dirt road in front of a large “Welcome to Alaska” sign. One year later, I took a photograph of an even muddier motorcycle in front of that exact same sign. Yes, it was me! At 17 years old I made it to Alaska alone with my bike, conquering over 1,000 miles of dirt highway.

Prior to departing for my seven-week, 17,000-mile camping adventure, my friends said that I was crazy. My parents said that I should wait. Crazy? Wait? For what? Since I was a kid, I had dreamed about going across America on a motorcycle. Something strong inside of me told me that if I didn’t go on this trip now, I never would. Besides, when would I have the time? I would be starting college on a scholarship very soon, then a career, perhaps even a family some day. I didn’t know if it was just to satisfy me or if in my mind I felt it would somehow transform me from a boy to a man. But what I did know was that for that summer, I was going on the adventure of a lifetime.

I quit all of my jobs and because I was only 17 I had my mother write a letter stating that I had her permission to go on this trip. With $1,400 in my pocket, two duffel bags, a shoe box full of maps strapped to the back of my motorcycle, a pen flashlight for protection and a lot of enthusiasm, I left for Alaska and the East Coast.

I met a lot of people, enjoyed the rugged beauty and lifestyle, ate off the open fire and thanked God every day for giving me this opportunity. Sometimes, I didn’t see or hear anyone for two or three days and just rode my motorcycle in endless silence with only the wind racing around my helmet. I didn’t cut my hair, I took cold showers at campgrounds when I could, and I even had several unscheduled confrontations with bears during that trip. It was the greatest adventure!

Even though I took several more trips, none can ever compare to that summer. It has always held a special place in my life. I can never go back again and explore the roads and mountains, the forests and glacial waters the same way I did back then on that trip, alone with my motorcycle. I can never make the same trip in the exact same way because at the age of 23, I was in a motorcycle accident on a street in Laguna Beach where I was hit by a drunk driver/drug dealer who left me paralyzed from the ribs down.

At the time of my accident, I was in great shape, both physically and mentally. I was a full-time police officer, still riding my motorcycle on my days off. I was married and financially secure. I had it made. But in the space of less than a second, my whole life changed. I spent eight months in the hospital, got divorced, saw that I could not return to work in the way that I had known it and, along with learning how to deal with chronic pain and a wheelchair, I saw all the dreams I had for my future leaving my reach. Luckily for me, help and support helped new dreams to develop and be fulfilled.

When I think back to all of those trips I took, all of those roads that I traveled, I think of how lucky I was to have been able to do that. Every time I rode, I always said to myself, “Do it now. Enjoy your surroundings, even if you’re at a smoggy city intersection; enjoy life because you cannot depend on getting a second chance to be in the same place or do the same things.”

After my accident, my father said that God had a reason for me being a paraplegic. I believe it. It has made me a stronger person. I returned to work as a desk officer, bought a home and married again. I also have my own consulting business and am a professional speaker. Every now and again, when things get rough, I remind myself of all the things that I have accomplished, all the things I have yet to accomplish, and my father’s words.

Yes, he was right. God sure did have a reason. Most importantly, I remind myself to enjoy every moment of every day. And if you can do something, do it. Do it now!

Glenn McIntyre

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