People Enter and Exit Each Other’s Lives

People Enter and Exit Each Other’s Lives

We have a mantra that goes, “People enter and exit each other’s lives when they’re most needed.” They are words that speak to the transience of life and relationships. Nothing is fixed, everything is ever-changing.

We humans are all teachers for each other. Some hold mirrors for us, helping us grow and expand, while others teach us through experiences. Some are hard lessons.
Others are guides, appearing at the perfect moment when we need help the most.
Or maybe they simply appear now and again to share the joy of friendship.

This is how we met Janneke, a courageous young woman from The Netherlands who was cycling the North Sea cycle route. We met her about five days into our own journey and she was the first cycle tourer we crossed paths with in England.

We’d just cycled about ten miles through radiant sunshine when we came upon Janneke, looking down at her overturned bike surrounded by her gear. A vehicle was pulled up and someone was trying to assist her. It turns out she had a flat tire and her helper’s pump wasn’t working.

We offered our own pump and soon brought the bike back into action. We were excited about meeting a fellow bike tourer and the three of us decided to cycle together for awhile, as we were following the same route.

It felt wonderful to enjoy the company of another cyclist and we rode quite a ways together before stopping at a food market to stock up. Steven and I decided to take a longer rest break and Janneke wanted to make some more miles, but we had a feeling we would see each other again soon.

Several hours later we found a forest to camp in and set up our tent between a farm field and a line of trees, which is quite an ideal set-up. We thought of Janneke and wondered where she ended up that night.

People enter and exit each other's lives when they're most needed.

The next day began in a usual fashion, leading us through the gentle rolling landscapes of the Midlands.

That’s when we heard it. A faint shout in the distance, coming from behind us.

We turned and there she was, Janneke rising up the hill we’d just ascended, waving and smiling.

There are many moments in life that remain etched in our memories, and this is one of them. Many months later I still clearly recall looking back and seeing her there, jubilant and full of energy as she caught up with us.

We cycled together again that day, crossing a big bridge and sharing conversation. In those moments you feel like a kid again, just out riding bikes for the joy of it. Strangely enough we passed a group of children cycling over the bridge too.

We parted ways for a second time later on, our routes diverging for awhile, but nothing lasts forever.

Over a week had passed since we saw Janneke as we arrived in Edinburgh, surrounded by hundreds of cyclists who appeared with us for Pedal on Parliament. This is an annual cycling protest event when cyclists take over Scotland’s capital roads and demand better cycling conditions and climate action.

We stood absorbing the radiant energy of the event moments before we all began cycling. People of all ages and backgrounds mingled with their bikes, cheering and ringing their bells. Volunteers ran about taking photos and handing out flags. It seemed all cyclists from miles around were there to advocate for their rights.

It may come as no surprise then, when we heard a familiar voice rise above the din. We turned, and who stood there smiling and waving?


This story took place in early April, 2022 as we cycled from southern England up to Scotland. Thank you Janneke for your warm spirit and companionship during some of our first days on the journey!

Written by Karla Sanders @karlasandersart | Photos by Steven Tiller @steventiller