by Austin

November 12, 2010

November 11th, 2010

Total Distance for today: 34 miles (Well, it was supposed to be… probably much further)
Total Distance for Tour: approx. 299 miles
LOCATION: Woodbridge, VA
STATUS: in route to Richmond, VA

Skating in the Dark

Some skate days, just don’t go as planned. I knew it was going to be rough, because things were amiss right from the beginning: My cell phone charger has disappeared (I blame Starbucks) and the Google Maps directions listed about seven turns without road names! I thought I could just use the GPS unit and wing it when I got to the confusing part… I was wrong.

Long and short of it, I was able to get into and out of DC, but I was completely off route, and I couldn’t get the GPS unit to find any of the intersections that my written directions mentioned. At one point, I was informed that I could not skate through the Arlington national cemetery. I had two choices: skate something like five miles out of my way and probably get lost, or risk the handcuffs 😉 and skate abut 2000 feet on the shoulder of what I’m quite certain was some form of expressway. I’ll leave it to your imagination to decide what choice I made…

By a stroke of luck, I happened upon a US travel service center, and a guy there was kind enough to print out some new directions for me. I couldn’t trust it to the GPS, as it was dying. At some point, I became aware that all of my wandering in that twisting land of nameless roads and quasi-legal skating had put me way behind schedule. It gets dark really early now, and so at 4:30, I called Dillon on my almost dead cell phone to inform him that I didn’t expect to make it. We were considering having him drive back to meet me at a closer Walmart than the one we had originally planned, but Dillon… deceived me! Looking at the map, he said that I had something like 12 miles left. I knew I had about an hour and a half before it would be downright ridiculous to still be skating. I went for it.

Well, a few things happened: the remaining skate was actually closer to 20 miles, my phone died completely, the GPS died as well, it got really dark, I got lost, I got back on track, I got lost again, I skated a long time in the dark, I got directions from a pizza guy, and I finally arrived at my destination in Woodbridge, VA at about 7:45 PM, approximately 8 hours after departure. I kept having to wait for openings in the traffic, skate like mad when I could, and jump off and wait on the shoulder for each new stream of cars, because they couldn’t see me!

It was an interesting adventure, and it required some pretty steady resolve for me to finish it, in spite of the situation. The truth is, things don’t always go as planned, and one thing gone wrong can often set off a chain-reaction of unfortunate events. I find that the best and only thing to do is to learn to laugh at the absurdity of your circumstances. I mean: literally appreciate the situation, because it has made your life more interesting and given you a story to tell! More often than not, it is not our external circumstances that decide the emotion we attach to a situation; rather, it is the lens through which we view the situation. Perspective isn’t just part of the equation: Often, it is everything.


About the author 


From a 3412 mile inline skate across America for Freedom to a pilgrimage halfway around the world, speaker and life coach, Austin Szelkowski has lived an intrepid spiritual journey. Over the last 11 years, he has skated across a continent, built 3 successful businesses, been enlightened by a mind-bending spiritual awakening, and endured a terrifying dark night of the soul journey in 2017. His story brings courage in the darkest places – providing a sense of spiritual adventure and hope.

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