Humans are not machines, we are not dull, boring, or thoughtless. We are just the opposite, full of questions, creativity, and insight. And most importantly, humans are fallible; we make mistakes, we fail, we hit walls, and are forced to overcome challenges, both physical and emotional.
Human power, and its place in travel and adventure is analogous to the human condition, which is our need to learn, explore, and discover. We seek to understand our limits, and we grow when we must overcome them.
Sometimes life throws you a curveball. Sometimes it’s more like you’re just getting pummeled repeatedly in the batting cage. ‘When it rains it pours’ they say, and when things are going our way it’s often hard to see this, because we’re moving quickly and delighted by all that we pass. But inevitably the tides change, the wind shifts and it’s no longer the convenient tailwind but a fierce and stubborn headwind that we’re forced to battle. For whatever reason it seems it’s times like these that there is a compounding return of bullshit. Headwinds often come with large uphills, extra weight, and a shortage of food and water. Top that off with a traumatic puncture and your day is written. Off the road these circumstances occur as well, and although we strive for balance and clarity in our lives, it often appears that things are either going good or bad, when in really it is our narrow focus that makes things appear this way. So much of our experience is based on our perception: what we wanted to happen, what we expect, what we hope, and what really happens. Failure and disappointment are not absolutes, but events and emotions that carry as much weight as we give them. When we load our entire self-worth onto a single one, not only will we be let down when it stumbles, but we are setting it up to do so. I’m not a religious man, or more accurately, I’m not a practicing Christian, but in times like these I think of the story of Job, of a man constantly being tested by God. I don’t even know the whole story and to me that’s not what matters, to me the importance is in finding solace that others have experienced similar times of hardship. I don’t have the answers or a trick to dealing with those days when your dog dies, your partner dumps you, and a plague of locusts destroys your crops. I just find support in the fact that we all go through these times in our lives, that they happen, they end, and there will be another day, another chance. So much of our happiness and self-worth rides on our perception of success and failure, of challenge and ease. If I have learned anything during these times when it seems like nothing is going your way, it’s that only your perception can keep you from feeling beaten down. It’s our own minds that turn an unfortunate event into a crushing defeat, our own selves who turn a simple mistake into a glaring failure. But by detaching ourselves from these events we can step back and assess why they failed, but more importantly why they felt so important to us, and through this practice we can learn and grow more than if things had simply gone our way. I’m not trying to be your self help coach, I’m writing this more for myself, a pat on the back and an uplifting mantra to keep us in the game. There’s a lot going wrong in the world, and trying to improve things when you encounter resistance in your own life can be challenging, or damn right debilitating. But we’d be well served to include a healthy dose of perspective with each helping of disappointment: things will improve, there is a lesson, it’s not the end of the world, and there are a lot of other people out there who have it much harder off than we do. Remember this, close your eyes, and smile. Life is a gift.