Lessons From J.W.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but with good reason. I’ve spent much of the past eight days in the company of a 28-year-old dynamo. From him I’ve learned a few lessons that will stick with me for life.

J.W. Frye is taking a cross-county solo ride to raise awareness about hospice care. His journey began in Key West and will end in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. By solo I mean he has no support vehicle. Everything he needs for the six month journey is packed on his bike. Fully loaded, the bike weighs about 115 pounds.

While in Nashville, J.W. stayed with friends of mine and I provided his transportation to various meetings, events, and media gigs (no, we did not make him cycle to all of these commitments). The two of us spent a lot of time together and I had a chance to get to know the man behind the mission. I observed miracles taking place in his life during the days leading up to his stay in Nashville. While in town, connections were made that may help pave the way ahead of him. Neither J.W. nor I believe in coincidences…we believe a Higher Power is in charge. As we observed things coming together in ways neither of us could anticipate, we just grinned in child-like wonderment. I won’t go into detail here in hopes that J.W. someday writes a book about his experiences.

So what did I learn from J.W.?

Before I even met him, a planned fundraiser he was going to attend fell apart. (While visiting hospices, J.W. participates in fundraisers that benefit those organizations.) I sent him an email to let him know what had occurred and that I was scrambling to orchestrate Plan B. His response? “I’m not worried in the least…I know that it is going to be perfect however it turns out.” Hmm. You know, looking back on his visit, everything really was perfect.

J.W. pedals hundreds, if not thousands of miles between scheduled visits with hospice communities. He travels frugally so that his money will stretch across six months and 8,000 miles. He doesn’t check in to the Four Seasons. In fact, on most nights doesn’t know where he will sleep.  Yet he doesn’t worry. He knows his needs will be met. Sometimes he pitches his tent. Sometimes he meets folks who give him a spare bedroom. Last night he found himself about 100 miles outside Nashville with no place to stay and bad weather in the forecast. He was offered a campsite with a pavilion to protect him from rain. He was grateful for the pavilion.

As a self-proclaimed worrier, J.W.’s lack of stress made a real impact on me. He understands that each and every day, “everything is as it is supposed to be.” That doesn’t mean he’s always happy about the situation in which he finds himself. But he knows he can always be content. I believe that because his mind and emotions aren’t cluttered with a bunch of “what ifs,” he’s free to accept all of the fantastic, miraculous gifts life has to offer.

I’ve made a commitment to myself that whenever I’m tempted to worry, I’ll remember the example J.W. so beautifully showed me.

From Nashville he goes to St. Louis. From there it’s on to Denver, Spokane, Seattle, and Alaska. If you happen to see him, I hope you’ll give him a place to stay and a hot meal or two. Trust me, your life will be enriched.

To learn more about J.W.’s incredible journey, visit his website.

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