It was my Uncle Tom who first introduced me to the artist, author, filmmaker, and world-renowned canoeist, Bill Mason.
Mason’s filmmaking struck such a chord with me that I wrote a paper about him for a film history class I took while in college.
When the professor was handing the graded papers back in class, she kept mine till last and told me she wanted to speak to me after class was over. Boy did I think I was in trouble! But as it turned out, she just wanted to praise me for such an inspirational piece of work.
“I’ve never read a paper filled with so much passion,” she told me. “You obviously have a great interest in this man and his work.”
And she was right. That paper on Bill Mason was one of my best pieces of college work… and the reason it was so good was because I cared about the subject I was writing about.
As time goes on and I learn more about myself, I realize that the things I do really well are the things I truly have a passion for. But unfortunately, society doesn’t always reward passion (at least not at first)… and for that reason, I’ve lately been worrying about bills and status, rather than pursuing the things that truly make me happy.
When times like this come around, the road calls to me and I know I need to get back out on my bike.
Over the years, I’ve come back to Mason time and time again… and his work reminds me that life isn’t all about the house you live in, the car you drive, or how much money you’ve got in the bank.
The reason I fell in love with traveling by bike was because it made me realize that you don’t need all those fancy things to make you happy. And it was Mason who first made me believe that I could do what I love, live the life I want to live, and be happy all at the same time.
Bill Mason died of cancer in 1988, but his films, books, and artwork live on today. The more I look back on his work, the more I realize that I would like to one day become the Bill Mason of bicycle touring and do for bicycle touring what he has done for the world of canoeing. He is truly the inspiration for my work now and in the future.