Good to Know When You Start & Stop
The pro’s and con’s of deciding to live life differently, focusing on a cycling life.
This post focuses on when coming to a halt after long-term cycling. In my case I wanted it to come to a stop, and when yours will end whether willingly or not, you must know that some things will not be the same anymore. You and your outlook may have changed drastically.
I’m not talking about anything shorter than, let’s say, a couple of years cycling the world -as a once in a lifetime happening- but all that qualifies for a full immersed life on the road where you keep your credit card usage to a minimum, where you live according the seasons and be as basic as a cycling life can go.
This post has 4 separate chapters
1) Aim what is the purpose of it all?
2) Attractor what attention can do to you.
3) Maintenance living a simple lifestyle is not less work.
4) Danger the world is not what it often is said to be.
I added photo’s from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iran, Sudan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Yemen (the absolute highlight). They are dating back from a 3 year backpack trip starting in 2007.
1. You can do good. When I was near to depression in Patagonia I needed to find a purpose in what I was doing. And I found one, though it took me time to see it. YIPPEE: there is a purpose in a cycling life too.
You will find out that there are lonely people to who you cater, besides being an example for others who want to break free from a life they know restrains them. Since you have no time limit, you can easily stay longer and linger with an elderly lady or lonesome person. People who work abroad or out of their own circle of friends, divorcee’s or simple lonely persons are delighted with your presence (given you are more or less pleasant to deal with). Because you áre someone special (of course you are, and at the same time, you are not, but that doesn’t matter as of now). Be there for others. Listen to them, without thinking of your next camp which could be with a marvellous full moon would you leave nów.
You are not there for them only; you are as much, if not more, there where you are because it’s you who needs it most! I truly believe in a smooth force leading and guiding you to where you need to be. Cycling life, more than anything I know of (for now), when on your own, is about listening to that inner voice. And that is rather easy since there is not much disturbance around you.
Adding the fact that ‘doing good’ comes from the heart, does not mean the mind has no say in this. Building toilets for ‘poor black’ but able Africans or distributing bags of rice to people along the fertile bushroad is not smart. It destroys more than it does good. When you are a happy person, interacting and talking with the locals it does more good and seems more valuable, in my opinion.
2. Cycling for years is, obviously, a great escape. A very joyful one. Tremendously meaningful (especially in the beginning). Beautiful. You’ll learn a lot. For this reason alone it is hard to stop. Because cycling is a high maintenance style of life, it is also covering up or obscuring other things. Boredom does not exist anymore but the more mundane happenings will also stop to exist.
My craving for creativity was such a thing. Answering life important questions can be another. Focusing on your real needs (mundane happenings engraved in us, such as wanting to work, nurturing a child or getting married). It is all obscured by reaching the next town to resupply. Cycling can become a main goal in life. It can swallow all other needs. Long-term travel is easy in a way as it postpones the other sort of live. Cycling for long is actually prolonging what once shall come: the life you are now fleeing from.
Long term cycling or traveling is living without focusing and without integrating. Long term travel is like drinking cocktails on a beach without ever having to return to your office. That other life, what most people lead is either working like a donkey to reach a certain something or feeling rather useless or inefficient. Cycling lift this all away from you. Cycling IS that reaching something. Cycling feels useful in itself, without being it so.
In fact, it may be all rather futile: cycling, traveling, working. What a depressing thought! But the benefit of cycling is that you are often very occupied that no such thoughts will enter your mind. I guess the best deal is to be busy with all of them, balance them out while searching the true meaning of life.
3. Once you are into this sort of lifestyle, you might never want to, nor can, return back to what you did before! A shepherd in the Himalayan vastness is not even knowing that there is a Del(h)i. Sure, electricity, a kitchen, WiFi and a house have their pro’s, they also captivate you. Once you are between walls, it is hard to erupt from them. Walls are made to keep you between them, and that’s what they do. The stone walls of a dwelling keeps you inside more than you want to. Be aware that the cycling lifestyle change you. To a very high degree if you happen to love it.
To feel you are living and alive, ‘to feel life’ so to say, it might be necessary to be out of society. In society all is pointed towards a comfortable way of life. All signs of modernity, agriculture, commercial importance, overflow and hurry are better to be out of sight to be able to feel truly alive. Most people are filling up their lives with stuff but this only numbs the ability to truly feel.
It might help to avoid being part of a smooth running social order, unless you are thriving on being part of it, for it will shape you into the opposite of what you did while on the road. I’m not suggesting to dash through red traffic lights nor to ignore paying taxes nor to burn your passport…
4. Don’t assume that you will have freedom once you have chosen the bicycle as your mode of travel, as your way of life. You might have longed for very long to the day you would be free. That day you don’t have to be woken up by an alarm clock and go to work and listen to your boss (who may be kind and fun to be with) and count the days until all this is finished (which I experienced). There lies a beauty and a sense of freedom in work too.
Because you might find out that one day, far into your free days of travel, there’s no thing to look out for, since every day is a free, and often fantastic, day. The sense of freedom has shifted and when you don’t take care you might lose purpose: since there’s nothing to work for any longer, there’s no window of free anymore. ‘Freedom is not the absence of limitations and constraint but it is finding the right ones, those that fit our nature and liberate us’ (C.S. Lewis).
5. Nature is power but you hardly notice it when you live indoors. Being inside a house is wrapped in comfort. When the sun shines weakly, it does not fill you with joy nor happiness, because you don’t need it; you are inside a house where you don’t need a half warm sun. When you are outside, you will be amazed what a half warm sun really means to you.
Money-made, artificial comfort doesn’t make you long for anything else than more of that very thing, it’s like opium to the brain. True comfort does not come forth out of man-made things, and if they do, they’re short lived. Natural comfort is the answer, I might dare say God-given occurrences, and they come in abundance. Satisfaction and luxury are two very different happenings. Not quite clear?
Let me explain: while living indoors one might soon start to feel bored, dissatisfied, frustrated and wants to be more into the warmth of a heating system, gets more pleasure from buying items which makes them temporarily happy. One might develop a habit for an unhealthy diet, fast food or snacking all sort of sugary or salty replacements. In short: this person develops anti-natural behavior. Once living fully outside, only then the body and mind will align with what nature is providing. The body will adjust to colder regions and a lukewarm sun will heat your cold bones.
You will notice that you don’t need anything you do not already have, that what you can carry yourself: this is enough to live a happy life. For some this means carrying a drone on an overladen motor vehicle (besides a few kilo of chargers, cables and plugs), for others (like myself) a stash of masala spices and milk powder (not immediately a source found in nature).
The body and mind will quickly adjust to the silence surrounding you. Unnatural sounds and masses of people will drain you after you get used to natural abundance. The more you have and gather, the less comfortable your life really gets.
6. I wrote it in a post when I was on top of my happiness in the Atacama desert of Chile: when there is no thing to look forward to, when all you do is what you want to do, when your current lifestyle exist of what you love to do only, when there is no thing to work for, and every day a free day, even though you might cycle 10 days on end, it start to become rather unrealistic. The difference between you and others is so obvious: yóu are still playing around, already years!
All long-term travel and long-term cycling is an escape. I didn’t have something in the future to look forward to, because often it was all fantastic. There is no deadline, no return ticket, no one waiting for me. I did not hold the belief I am the one and only special cooperate for a certain job.
One of my most favorite parts of cycling was the Atacama desert, in a slow mode and I was enjoying it. Extremely much so. Life, I realize, could never be like this if not I was cycling. To find exciting and dreamlike places to sleep, in a vastness not to imagine, on landslips magnificent, without a focal point I was just enjoying life. It kind of is an art. To live like a loose projectile.
To escape the mundane life one way or another is, in my opinion, as valid as living the ordinary, whatever the ordinary is. Go, enjoy, don’t feel guilty. Go, and find out what life is about…