When the finish becomes the start

The coastal bike trail in Los Angeles stretches from Torrance Beach, at the foot of the Palos Verdes peninsula, to Will Rogers State Park near Pacific Palisades. End to end, it’s a 22 mile ride along and through LA’s iconic beach communities. Last Saturday afternoon my son and I rode the length of it.

I had two goals for the experience: first, finish the ride. We had to, if we wanted to get back to our car. Second, enjoy the ride. That is, don’t be so focused on finishing, or finishing quickly, that the sights and smells (so many smells in Venice Beach!) or the companionship of my son, get lost or left behind.

When I started to wonder how many miles we had covered I realized that my perception was confused by our stopping and starting, our inconsistent speeds and my lack of familiarity with the local landmarks. Everything’s different on the seat of a beach cruiser, as I suppose it is meant to be.

And not long after the question crossed my mind I noticed mileage markers painted on the path, counting down to zero. They just appeared, as if only half of the trail committee got the memo to include them. And sure enough, they told us we were half way there.

Coming when they did, when our energetic exploration was beginning to be tested by sore rear ends and tightening legs, the markers threatened to become a countdown to “Finally, we’re done!” instead of “Wow, that was great!”

It’s a strange feeling, isn’t it? In anything worth doing, we know it has to end. And so we are challenged, always challenged, to make a choice. If we choose to count the miles we only have the statistical part of the story. But if we choose to count the moments, we create something greater; something impossible to measure…impossible to forget.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

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