Beast and Beauty
The best metaphor that I can use to describe my experience this year is a ruler. At different points in our lives we use different rulers to measure success and development. Through the scholastic years, the measure is academic grades. To most adolescents and collegiates, social status is a high priority. Sports, at all levels, rely on accumulated statistics and earned championships to compare individuals and teams. As adulthood arrives, job status, monies earned, and successes of one's children replace the measures of earlier times. As a research scientist, my successes were measured by which journals would publish my results. The formula was extremely straightforward - and painfully simple. As I looked around my academic life, and beyond it to the world at large, I wondered why we are constantly willing to use these already existing and formulaic rulers to measure our successes, and, in extreme cases, our own happiness? How is it that so many people can use so few rulers? Biking for Birds provided the incredibly unique opportunity for me to define and to become my own ruler. Yes, the species count is certainly one way to measure this year, but the personal triumphs I experienced are immeasurable. No other ruler beyond my own can ever hope to measure or define what I experienced this year - I would't have it any other way.
All that being said, there is simply no way that this year could not have happened without the support of hundreds if not thousands of people around this country and world beyond it. I had to rely on the incredible generosity of the people who housed me, fed me, and helped me find birds. Large numbers of people gave financially of themselves to aid my fundraising efforts (Donations are still welcome), and for this I am also grateful. My support network extended deep into the online realm as blog readers were never short to encourage me and offer helpful suggestions as I faced new challenges. I tried my hardest to make this project one for the entire birding, cycling, and environmental communities. I have thought a lot about this, and I think the aspect of the project that I will miss the most is the blog. It provided the portal through which I was able to broadcast my experiences and share my thoughts. I spent a huge proportion of this year physically alone. This blog was my way of connecting to the rest of the world, even if in only a distant or transient way. I plan to keep this blog going into the foreseeable future, so please check back regularly as we enter 2015. There will be lots of "Best of......" posts coming in the next few days! I may at some point shut this blog down and start a more general birding/photography blog. I will be sure to let everyone know when/if I do this. I have a great base of readers, and I would love to carry all of you with me into my future endeavors - blogs and books alike.
Thank you one last time for your support, your time, your help, and your encouragement. Knowing that others enjoyed this project as much as I did is just one of our collective successes this year.
OK, that's it for right now. Day 1 of the rest of my life calls............
1 immeasurable adventure