Date Finished: May 2018
Did I Like It? 7/10
The books Amazon Page
Some people have had a life we could never imagine, Juliana is on of those. From growing up in a cult, escaping death in Africa, building a life and finding love only for nature to take that person away to cycling around the world in less than six months. She is an incredible human and while the book takes you through the journey of the bike ride for the most part, she brings in aspects of her life before the bike ride to bring it all together.
What I Highlighted:
Even if all we ever shared was a distant friendship, that was worth more to me than a hundred close acquaintanceships.
The more they scoffed, the more determined I became. When an idea gets stuck in my head, it simmers for a while until I get either bored or motivated. But tell me it’s impossible and that four-syllable word sets me off like a trigger.
Family do not have to be blood relatives. They are the people who support you through good times and bad, the people who know all your secrets, celebrate your highs and stick around through the lows. You cannot choose your blood relatives, but you can choose your family.
Out of curiosity, I sent an application to the Guinness World Records, stating my intention to circumnavigate the world by bike.
My optimism took me a long way, like the bumblebee who, ignorant of the fact that physicists say he should not be able to fly, flies anyway.
While I hardly shared his optimism, his confidence in my athletic potential was reassuring.
There is always something to be afraid of in this world, but fearing the unknown seems a futile waste of energy.
So much of life is spent doing arbitrary tasks and fearing things that will never happen. During expeditions you get to live the extraordinary. Dealing with fear is the price you pay to be able to achieve peak experiences and learning. Nothing great can be achieved without jumping the fear barrier.
I could feel my resolve weakening as each day ticked by. If I did not leave soon, I knew I never would.
It takes courage and a certain mental toughness to leave behind everything you know.
I have a really tough head on my shoulders and I can endure a lot of pain –physical and mental.
The finish line is in some relative future, reliant on many obscure ifs.
Pain brings you to the basics of existence. It reminds you of your frailty, your mortality, your finiteness.
The Wrong Way
There is no arguing with the general opinion: where winds are concerned, I am definitely going the wrong way round.
Like the police, there was little he could do in the way of direct assistance, but in times of misery, a friendly face can be game changer.
It’s almost silly how the little, everyday things in life take on such disproportionate importance when you find yourself without them.
Few things annoy me like people who state the obvious.
Anything can happen, and when it does, you have to adapt. Where there is a problem, there is always a solution.
I usually try to keep things light; it is always easier to deal with little problems or difficult people with humour.
Now I chuckle to think how I wouldn’t mind some plain boiled beans and rice right now, and how ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are entirely relative and circumstantial terms.
It takes loss and privation for us to discover the true value of something or someone. This is the strange nature of humans.
A Ferry Tale
From this brief history lesson I learn that both time and history are fluid.
I know that my body is tired, hungry, fatigued, yet I keep pushing on and eventually the moment of self-punishment becomes pure inner expansion. If our minds can surpass the dictates of our bodies, then surely we are capable of anything. Everything starts in the mind. That is the seat of power, of whether we succeed or fail, of the beginning and the end of it all. When the mind gives up, the body soon follows.
Most chillingly, I was taught to embrace the concept of death through martyrdom.
I enjoy the easy feeling of hanging out with family. We all shared the same unusual upbringing, one that most people would consider bizarre at best; but when we are with each other, we do not have to explain anything.
We blend in everywhere, yet never really belong anywhere.
A special freedom comes with not worrying about what people think. Imagine what would happen if one day everybody stopped caring.
‘There is no satisfaction in achievement without struggle.’
The Tough Get Going
Pain, misery and struggle all teach you a lot about yourself. About who you are and what you are capable of under extreme conditions.
The more adversity we suffer in life, the more we savour the brief, rare periods of complete happiness and abandon.
I think only those who know deep suffering can truly appreciate its opposite.
Much as I enjoy my solitude, it is comforting to know there will be someone near by for this stretch of the journey.
Sometimes words are inadequate to describe a certain moment, like standing on top of that proverbial mountain and feeling completely alive.
The Consequences of Solitude
While crying does nothing to resolve my immediate problem, it does at least relieve some of the pent-up frustration.
‘Solo expeditions, mine at least, are the purest form of selfishness I can think of,’ he told me. ‘You might not be free from your environment’s demands, but you are free to choose your response to them. If a solo mission kills me one day, I will not be the one suffering. It only hurts if you survive. The ones who love me will be left to deal with the sorrow.’
On the bike, I can pound out the emotional pain, and I feel that pain a little less with every kilometre I travel.
I remember something I read once about fear having two meanings: ‘forget everything and run’ or ‘face everything and rise’.
Now, though, the further I get, the more I find myself wanting to reach the finish line, wanting to see more, do more, experience more. Life has become far more attractive –not living merely for the sake of existing, but honouring the fact that I exist by really living.
. The animal without a pack is an animal without protection. It is little wonder humans always search for a group to which they might belong. We have a subconscious need to attach ourselves to a pack for safety, passed down through evolutionary millennia. Nobody wants to be the solitary animal.
Acting big and bold can attract the wrong kind of attention, but when used at the right times it can be a highly effective weapon in a lone female’s arsenal.
Half of the exhaustion I feel on the road is mental, I remind myself. So I let my mind rest and meditate. As long as the mind stays strong, the body will follow.
Humour is one of the best ways of getting through pain without letting it permanently damage you. Pain is an inevitable part of life, but it marks some more than others. Some people wear their pain like a layer of make-up. You can read it in every line, look and gesture; the undercurrent of sadness like a memory connected to a song, or the lingering scent of perfume on a pillowcase. What a beautiful face it is that is unmarked; a person who has been touched by pain, yet upon whom pain has left no impression.
A Long Way Home
Maybe creating a legacy is all any of us are really after. Maybe that’s why people have children, write books, compose music, paint pictures. So they can leave behind a message that says, ‘Against all the odds, I was here. For one brief moment in time, I existed.’
There are the basic, constant laws of the universe, on which everything depends, and which our lives follow with comfortable predictability.
We want to feel safe, secure against every eventuality, so we construct worlds of illusion into which we bury our heads.
Yesterday is always in the past; it no longer exists. Tomorrow has not yet happened; so it does not exist either. Today is the only day we will ever live, and that makes it the best day ever.
The words ‘stop’ and ‘go back’ work like vinegar on a wound.
I believe that some people enter our lives for a reason. They may not stay long, but they have a lasting effect.
The most beautiful things in life are fleeting. That is part of their beauty. To have something go on and on for ever would dilute its potency.
The Impossible Dream
When the pain becomes too much to bear, when I am too tired to carry on, my tenacity and pride force me onwards. Giving up completely would be even harder, because I could never live with myself if I did.
We are all here, just trying to figure it out, trying to find a purpose, in pursuit of happiness.
You can endure anything when there is a foreseeable end.
We can do things that are greater than ourselves. If you believe nothing exists beyond a certain boundary, then you will never test the veracity of that belief and you will never discover new possibilities
Many people postpone making their dreams a reality to wait for the perfect time. There is no such thing. The perfect time is right now.
How much we are limited by our own fears as well as by social, cultural, religious and self-imposed limitations. If we can break through those, how far might we go as individuals, as a species?
Perhaps the best way to recover from the last challenge is to start planning a new one.