On July 17, thanks to John Stanton, the manager of Rim Country Chamber of Commerce, I was introduced to a young lady from Germany. Nothing out of the ordinary there. People from everywhere travel where their whims take them. This was different. I met Stanton outside WalMart, and waited for this young lady to emerge, as she was shopping for some needed items.
Stanton’s impatience got the best of him, he went inside to find her. If you are looking for someone and know they must pass a certain place, wait there, they will find you. So it is.
Her name is Swinde, that’s a first name. Don’t you love different cultures? Names can be similar and also so different. They finally emerged with Swinde carrying two plastic bags.
Stanton introduced us and he went to find his car. Swinde proceeded to put her items in the various saddle bags, and packs on her bike.
I asked questions. She is pedaling from Argentina to Alaska. From one end of South America to the other end of North America. Think about that for a minute. On a bicycle. I haven’’t looked up the distance. Why?
My concern, my interest, is her ambition, her drive, her goal, her mission. When I asked her why, Swinde Wiederhold replied; “Because.”
So matter of factly, as if I was asking what she had for breakfast. If you think about the distance, the miles, the possible things that could go wrong, you’ll never go. If you think about the adventure, the accomplishment, the journey, you will never stop.
How long have you been traveling?
“At this point a year and a half,” she said.
It is not a race, it is not a competition, it is not how fast, or how much distance can be covered in what short period of time. It is all about going, exploring, pushing the limits of her knowledge, her self-confidence, her ability to experience life in a full, absorbing way. How many people do you know who are like this?
Me, personally, I know two. Well, now I know three. She is now in Kanab, Utah, at least when I checked her website last.
Wiederhold is young, about 28 or so, maybe younger. When I asked her questions she seemed like I was asking the wrong things. We Americans are sometimes timid, safe, afraid, and worried about what happens to us and guard against leaving our comfort zones.
Wiederhold embraced life in a way I haven’t seen for some time. Her worry wasn’t concerned about the people she met, or the countries through which she has traveled and will travel. Her worries were more concrete; flat tires, weather, how to save money, cables on her bike that might break and how soon can she repair them and at what cost.
I reached an end of questions, her bags were packed and she was eager to find a place to pitch her tent. I watched her ride away and realized I had missed my opportunity. There were more questions to ask, there was more conversation to be had.
I am not a reporter. I am a photographer who writes occasionally. Most of the time, for me, there is a need to take a breath, reflect, ponder, feel my intuition, and soak like a sponge the experience I’ve traveled through. I did not seize the moment. I asked ordinary questions of an extraordinary person. It’s okay though. I’ve been touched by a person who will always be in me, now.
Swinde is that rare individual you will find in any culture, in any country. They are called explorers, adventurers, seekers, who will always be out front, ahead of the rest of us. They push our boundaries, they push the human condition and help us evolve into better, stronger, more intelligent beings.
You can follow Wiederhold at www.swinde.de
If you are looking for someone and know a place they must pass on their journey, wait there, they will find you. So it is. The secret to this is: knowing where to wait. Wait for me, I will find you.