This is the latest guest post by friend and adventure cyclist Kieron Ramsay. Last year he quit his job and got on a bicycle, setting off on a life-changing journey that would see him camping his way across Europe and eventually ending up in the south of Portugal. In this post he talks about adapting to his new life on the road….
Living With Eyes Open
We often set goals in our lives, that once we achieve them, it feels like a simple case of ticking the box to say that we have done it and then we move on. However, when I came to reach the end of my planning and saving goals for travelling, I was surprised to find myself in an ambivalent world of contradictory thoughts. It was leaving day excitement versus leaving day doubts. On one hand I had the enthusiasm of a dog whose master has just allowed him to eat his dinner after making it wait obediently. On the other, I was a cautious mother that wanted to make sure I had enough of everything, double and triple checking I had all my bits. Was I ready? Only one way to be sure I guess.
Once I got going, with my home falling further and further behind me, it took some time for my new lifestyle to sink in. I was officially on the road and simply willing the experiences to happen to me. I had given up the almost unavoidable world of working and the social politics (A.K.A bullshit) that can come with it, and was chasing a new kind of experience that I could cherish for the rest of my days.
It didn’t take long for me to taste what I desired so bad. I was beginning to feel the freedoms of travelling, and with it came euphoria. The only way I can describe it is, it feels like there is a seed in your belly, that has began germinating and turning into something beautiful, something bigger, something special. You don’t want it to stop, so you push on as your soul begins to broaden its smile and sings and asks for more. It feels infectious, and I’d happily admit that it brought me to tears.
Once I had acclimated to living this way and begun cycling in excess of 100 miles a day, I was quickly traversing the lands of Europe. I felt like each and everyday was a gift just for me to make the most of. I was gaining first hand experience of one of the biggest lessons a person can learn; living in the moment. However, Carpe diem’ing the fuck out of your life is a lot easier when everything around you smells like roses. Just as much as life can, travelling has a darker side to it too. Not all your plans will pan out the way you could have predicted and occasionally, life throws a spanner at your sensitive parts. On these occasions you will come up against something that you would rather do without. It could even seem that you may have to abandon travelling. But if you are strong-minded and have the character to see yourself through, you will be rewarded in another way – you will have a true glance at what you are really made of, and I bet you will like what you see. There are benefits to be gained from bad experiences, you just need to see where the value is.
As human beings, we are naturally adaptive creatures. We can survive in a massive variety of ways, and the spectrum of what constitutes a ‘normal’ day in someone’s life is just as vast. Even whilst in full travelling mode, the human psyche is wired so that we feel all important about ourselves, and our ego will eventually start asking for more and even get bored of seeing wonder. With this in mind, during my 1st travelling experience, the benefits of meditation really struck a chord with me. It helped my mind to achieve a state of peace that I hadn’t come across before, and it also gave me that all important dose of perspective. This was great timing as it aided my mind in finding peace, thus helping me make the most of my time on the road.
The key is keeping yourself motivated and maintaining high spirits. There are a number of ways that could potentially help you in this regard; music, podcasts, and the occasional phone call to a friend all worked wonders for me. Another big aspect of exercising my mind on the move was that I was keeping a daily journal. It was a combination of a diary, that I could read back through after some of the tougher days, and a place to write down and clarify any thoughts or ideas that I could develop or come back to. I recommend finding whatever works best for you.
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This is from a series of guest posts Kieron will be sharing with us based around his trip. Check back next week for the next part. Until then, you can read more from Kieron on his blog as he plans his next cycle trip, an epic coast-to-coast across the USA.