The Surprising Wisdom of a Bearded Tramp

(Reading time: 3 minutes, 200 words)

Mark began pedaling three years ago after his wife died. Nothing made sense after her death, he said, so he walked down his front porch steps, straddled his bike, and left everything. He's crossed Texas, Nebraska, and most of the western states at least a couple times since then. A real Forrest Gump.

His bike is a Walmart special (Mark's words), and it weighs over 100 pounds loaded up (my estimate). It has five rusty gears, and sloppy welds on the brake handles and frame—probably the repair work of a sympathetic gas station mechanic.

Mark survives, even thrives, on very little. He eats ramen with hot sauce for dinner, oatmeal with peanut butter and green tea for breakfast. When he can afford it, he splurges on honey for the oatmeal. Gives him more energy for the 50+ miles he covers each day.

Mark had a lot to say. Seemed starved for interaction.

"God is everywhere," he said, despite the handwritten "I'm a Witness for Jesus" banner hoisted on his handlebars. "Religion doesn't have anything to do with it. I think God is in everybody."

"So what have you found out here on the road?" I asked. "Have you found what you're looking for?"

"You don't find answers," he said. "You find a way to accept that there might be none."