by Austin

December 11, 2010

December 10th, 2010

Total Distance for today: 0 miles
Total Distance for Tour: approx. 553 miles
STATUS: Just spoke at Rollins Elementary in Henderson, NC

The Good

I had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of super-enthusiastic 3rd-5th graders at Rollins Elementary school in Henderson, NC. Some might be tempted to think that my message is irrelevant to such a young audience, but I see it quite differently. Honestly, I believe that it is as important to instill these ideas in very young people as “mature adults.” You see: Children have not yet built up the mental barriers to new ways of thinking that so many of us must fight to break down.

A 5th grader can quickly grasp and accept statements like these:
“Life should be an adventure.”

”You need to be brave to live an adventure, and sometimes, you need to be willing to appear silly or strange to be brave.”

”If you want to do something great, but it seems too big right now, the best thing for you to do is begin at once! You can figure it out as you go, but you must begin!”

For most of us, the mind hardens as we grow older and more “mature.” It takes great effort and courage to unlearn those things that prevent us from being open, creative, playful, and free. The kids at Rollins Elementary really got it today, and they made an awesome audience. I think I had too much fun: Who gets to host a 5 person dance off on stage with a bunch of gutsy 3rd-5th graders for his day job? I do, that’s who!

The Bad

It wouldn’t be a complete day on the Freedom Tour, if the “Freedom Mobile” didn’t act up in some unpredictable and strange way. Alas, as we drove home, celebrating a great talk at Rollins, the “Freedom Mobile” did bring a great hardship upon us! 😉 We had back-tracked from Raleigh to Henderson for the speech, and I was driving about 65 MPH down I-85 South, just 4 miles from our exit. Suddenly, I heard the engine start to sputter and die out.

We pulled off to the side of the expressway to figure out what was happening. Long story short:

1) We thought it was the low oil

2) I misread the “add 1 QT” line and thought it said “add 10 QT.” (To be fair, it looked more like this: “add 1Qt.” Remove the stem from the Q, add a little carelessness, and taDA!.

3) I went and bothered some poor old man to drive me up to a gas station, grabbed 10 QT of oil, and poored 6 of them into the motor home before realizing my mistake… OOPS!

4) Had to drain the extra oil into an old Folgers coffee can (formerly Freedom Tour donation jar).

5) After all of that, it was not the crazy oil that was the problem. We ended up having to call a tow truck to get us back to Walmart. Our sponsor, APV, was kind enough to cover this expense (but only after having a good laugh at/with us on the phone). 🙂

Freedom Mobile be praised!

The Ambiguous

One would expect that after a $514 unexpected bill to fix the heat, a nasty day of bitter cold “plumbing work,” a $300 towing charge, and a broken-down RV, all in one week, Dillon and I would be discouraged. But Dillon said it best: The truth is that all of this just adds to the power of our story. We will work it out, as we always do. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact solutions to every problem, and it seems as though things just like to go wrong often, but even the wrong things seem to lead to opportunities. Here’s the lesson: We can’t control the uncontrollable, but he/she who can be comfortable and opportunistic with the ambiguous will always come out on top.

If there’s one thing I want to learn/teach in all of these minor detours, it’s this: The more you learn to face your problems down and just walk right through them, the more you will find that they are actually opportunities in disguise, or that they don’t really exist at all!


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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