I am part of a small but well-formed group of Adventurers who regularly blog for each other. This week’s guest blog is written by my good friend Sarah Outen, who is currently circumnavigating the world under her own steam by bicycle, kayak and rowboat. It’s tough to find someone more motivating than Sarah, and her blog below suggests that when there’s a dream to be chased, you gotta give it a Gao!
I am currently in Beijing, 4.5 months into a 30 month expedition with 13,300km on the clock and most of the world to go. I have been on the road, cycling East for most of those 4.5 months, crossing sandy deserts, slogging up mountains or whizzing along river valleys. I have met all sorts of people between here and London – on the road and off it; wisened ancients, calm and content; excitable young things exploding with energy; tired travellers; bubbly truckers; interested folks; grinning hellos; bemused folks and a whole lot of other faces whom have disappeared as quickly and quietly as they arrived in my transient life on the road. This diverse cast list has shown me that we are all as different as peas from carrots in some respects, but as similar as similar things in others. Our lives may be different and our cultures colourfully so, but at the root of us all seems to be a similar set of values and genre of hopes.
One thing that I have heard many times from London to Lauterbach to Coburgh to Qyzylorda to Hami to Beijing is, ‘I wish I could do what you’re doing… ‘ or ‘I have a dream too…’ This is often followed by a huge ‘But….’ And a reel of reasons (or excuses) as to why the dream lies unaccomplished and the sighs linger on. My language skills sometimes prevent me from saying exactly what I want to say but here is the crux of it, proffered from one weary, happy roadie to y’all. If you want it, then go and make it happen, whatever it may be. No one else is going to do it for you. If you have ‘buts’ then figure a way round them or readjust your priorities and make some sacrifice. Tomorrow is full of future and hope, but often it never comes and the opportunities will have passed before you know it. Have a think about it, make a little plan as to when you will make those dreams happen – can now be the right time? If not, then why not? I think a lot of it comes down to people not committing, for whatever reason. Maybe they are tied with other obligations. Maybe they don’t know how. Maybe they are afraid. Maybe they cannot commit. Who knows, but what I do know is how satisfying and powerful an experience it can be when you jump straight in and start swimming for your goal. Madly, excitedly, eyes wide open, splashing and figuring out how to keep floating, and hooping and hollering with the joys of the journey.
4,000 km ago a young excitable Chinese guy bounded up to me and my bike Hercules and declared that he wanted to cycle to Beijing with me. He had met me 10 minutes beforehand, had never cycled further than 10km and didn’t even have a bike. Having tried to put him off to start with, I then thought I would give him a chance – the guy had energy in bucket loads and a whole lot of pluck for even suggesting this to me. 35 days later, after daily challenges and some of the toughest terrain I have ever cycled, Gao – my impromptu Chinese companion – wheeled into Beijing alongside me, mission complete. He had grown from nervous boyish floppy-haired youth into a confident and accomplished cyclist, eyes wide open and hooping and hollering with the joys of the journey, eager for more. It was a magic moment and I know he will go on to pedal some great journeys on his own now – he is in love with adventure.
So, if you’re reading this and are twitching uncomfortably about that dream of yours lying dormant at the back of your mind and To Do List, then why not dig it out and give it a little Gao. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped – at least you will know you gave it a shot. And if now really is not and cannot be the right time for you, then get out the calendar and make a plan for when and how you will make it happen. Good luck and go well