Ahead of the journey: Article for Overland Magazine

Article published in Issue 15 of Overland Magazine (May 2016)

There is a tendency in each of us as we rush through our daily routines to forget that we, in common with everyone else around us, are just trying to find the best route through this life. Each one of us wants safety, happiness and love. As the brain-washing ‘us-and-them’ hype is thrown at us by TV and tangles with the more primal elements of human nature this irrefutable truth often gets confused and lost. When the actions of others are viewed from this perspective, they become more understandable to me and I find I can abide the bewildering shades of grey in the world and respectfully endure the co-existence of views that differ from my own. But too often I find the stresses and strains of daily life force me into a self-focused state which is out of touch with this simple truth, and with that my tolerance and understanding drops.

In May this year my partner and I will embark on an overland motorcycle adventure which embodies our effort to take back control of our path and live a life more closely aligned with this truth. A life which we expect to challenge our views of the world but which we believe will ultimately affirm our faith in the inherent good in people, and which gives us the time and energy to engage more deliberately with life.

We’ve been told that we make an odd couple. A scientist and an artist, coming at the world from different angles and having such different backgrounds. But although our methods for making sense of the world around us may differ, our goal is the same. We are both idealists with a shared curiosity for nature and human nature and a willingness to learn from what others have to teach us. We both value equality, respect and kindness greatly, and fun and laughter above all else.

Perhaps the hardest challenge an idealist faces in life is to balance their values with reality. Increasingly we’re aware of a deep dissatisfaction; our life doesn’t reflect our ideals as closely as we’d like. In fact, at times it seems to interfere as we don’t get the time to focus on those things most important to us. Life has taught us harsh lessons of its brevity. So, whilst the conventional wisdom for people our age is that we should be acquiring material possessions, settling down and starting a family we find that our dreams lie elsewhere. Our dreams lie in paring our lives down to the basics – stripping away all the extraneous stuff that gets in the way – riding, being together and discovering more about the planet we inhabit. Above all, we dream of switching off the autopilot to take full control of our path to explore our way into the life that best suits who we are.

As much as I can romanticise our journey I’m under no illusions about the reality of life on the road. I, like anyone, enjoy stability, safety and the people I love around me and I’m aware that all of these things could be compromised by our plans. I have to admit that as our leaving date draws closer, my apprehension and anxiety is growing at a rate equal to my excitement, resulting in almost daily questioning of what on earth I think I’m doing – not so for Mickey who seems to exude only excitement! But I always knew this would be the case, I’m an overthinker by nature and it’s something I’ve learned to balance with my sense of adventure. And, as an adventurer on the road reminded me a few days ago, this struggle will make it all the more worthwhile. It’s a challenge I’m willing to meet head on because if there’s one lesson life teaches me over and over it’s that good things happen when you take a few chances and follow your heart.

We’ve been overwhelmed by the interest and support for our trip already, both old friends and new have been unanimously supportive of our decisions and we count ourselves lucky to have such amazing people in our lives. If there is one downside to our journey it’s that it will take us far away from them. For two people who consider themselves unremarkable, it’s been humbling and more than a little strange to realise how many strangers are also interested and enthused by our journey. We’re still 4 months away from leaving and we already have many subscribers, followers and interactors. We’ve been shown so many kindnesses already that remind us all the time of how generous people are. We take this a very good sign of the great things to come.

As we edge ever closer (but oh so slowly!) to our leaving date and we begin to tackle the larger details of the trip such as visas, carnets and luggage solutions, we find that we are often asked what we will do ‘after’. It always gives me cause to stop and smile. It’s a natural enough question but unknowingly, those asking it have hit upon exactly what we hope to leave behind us. Our journey represents the beginning of the rest of our life together, for us there is no ‘after’. We want to stay in the moment and open to all the possibilities life brings and just soak up the whole amazing experience. The first time I allowed myself the freedom and courage to answer this question honestly a huge weight lifted from my shoulders that I hadn’t realised I was carrying:

“I don’t know, we’ll figure that out when we get there”

With those words a piece of the jigsaw of my life fell into place as I finally appreciated the beauty of the unknown. A universe of possibilities opened up and I experienced for the first time the freedom that comes from simply following a dream.

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A new life: Article in Motorcycle Explorer Magazine

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