I write from the Provence leader house, amid a low murmur of convivial kitchen banter and stovetop smells. I've brought a bottle of wine to contribute to this homemade chicken soup dinner, so my hands are free from cooking tasks. And so I sit and I think... as another season winds down.
Highs, lows, but mostly a steady stream of unique experiences and warm personalities in my coworkers and guests as I pinballed from region to region - leading, supporting, driving and researching. And so many conversations in the past few days during our annual Staff Ride (where 330 of us converged on the beautiful island of Mallorca) about the end-of-season feel: when suddenly the thunderous noise dies down and the world slows and we're all faced with the next chapter in the year. Some of us have it all figured out, others let Backroads do the figuring via winter trip leading, and still others leave things wide open to see what options might present themselves. But wherever we go from here, most of us are in agreement that it's been pretty darn good up to this point.
Reflecting on the year, I see that I'm drawn to opportunities that allow me to feel the depth of my emotions and the span of my humanity. To feel alive. Joy, frustration, appreciation, camaraderie, pride, annoyance, curiosity, humility, adventure, exhaustion, exhilaration, mischief. A friend recently asked me about the last time I cried, and although I'm not one for tears, I do often have what I like to call that full-heart feeling. Running in the early light of the Provencal sunrise, cycling or hiking or staging bikes in some dramatic natural place, drinking wine in the streets of a vibrant city center, sharing a meal with friends in a house in a town I never knew existed until that day... And I marvel at the beauty in it all and how lucky I am to experience it.
We all joke about the post-Staff Ride depression, that comedown after the elation of hundreds of your friends and coworkers riding together with that full-heart feeling for four days every fall. But that small sense of loss is a minor price to pay for such a tremendous and joyful experience, and we know that too. So we call on our close friends, gradually regroup and start to discuss the upcoming winter months. And the world calls out to us, and the possibilities stretch before us.
Watch the 2016 Staff Ride Video:
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