I apologize first to any and all world class cycling fans out there because this has nothing to do with the astonishing 2100-meter bike race that takes place in the western hills of France. Nor does it have much to do with the incredible preparation that goes into such feats of athleticism. It does how ever pull influences from time spent on a bicycle. I wouldn’t have been inspired to write about such a concept without experiencing the emotional and almost physical backlash of motor vehicle driver verses cyclist. I will admit that I too was ignorant to the idea of cyclists sharing the road with the four-wheeled exuberant pieces of steel we commonly use to commute with on our daily endeavors. Until I was one of those leg pumping, arm indicating, “annoyances” on the road.
It’s a beautiful Thursday morning in Bristol, UK. My wife and I are spending the winter months experiencing the working class life in England. We don’t have a car and both our places of work are close to an hour walk one way. We could use public transport but that cost money and we are trying to make the most of our time here. Saving where we can and spending where it counts, one travels around Europe. That being said the bus doesn’t get you there much faster than walking anyways. So we both took on the healthy alternative of cycling and to our surprised it was the most efficient way to get around. Not only did you not have to sit in frustrating traffic jams, or pay for costly fuel, or worry about your questionable coworker asking for a ride home at the end of the day (although that did happen regardless of the fact I was sporting a bicycle). But you get a bit of exercise. You get to charge up and unwind during those stressful days at the office. You most certainly get to where you want to go before anyone sitting in a car or a bus. You’re also doing your home and yourself a service by reducing your carbon footprint and minimizing your dependence on the corporate hands that feed. Such as the oil and gas and automotive industries. You almost experience a certain paradigm shift in pace you feel you must keep in life. All of the sudden you’re okay with taking the time from your day to stop and smell the flowers.
Unfortunately this sense of independent freedom comes with a price. An unforeseen target is placed on your back as a menace on the street. A pylon in the rev limiting rat race we call rush hour. All of the sudden you have become the easy target for anxious road warriors to pass blame for not reaching the red light ahead 5 seconds sooner. I was completely taken back by the aggressive shouts from motorists passing by because they truly feel entitled to the entire surface area of the road. What is even worse is if you try and take your journey to the sidewalks those on foot treat you with a similar distaste. You have been stripped of any identity of being a human being and become the source of some ones impatient outburst.
All I can do is reflect on the situation. I’m certainly not going to be able to change every ones mind on cyclists, no matter how many particular hand signals I flash at these angry motorists as they slam their foot to floor as race by. I can how ever walk, or cycle, or even drive away with a new found perspective on just how oblivious we can be to what its like living life in another persons shoes. As cliché as it is this was such a clear example of how we can allow the conditioning of our modern society, always racing to the next destination, blurred to others around us who may live life a little differently then ourselves, to obscure the understanding that we are all in this together. Perhaps someone’s right to be a functioning human in their purest form using their god given limbs and respiratory system to go from one place to another is worth more than you speeding up to the red light ahead.
This is all metaphorical and I am sure I will one day soon hop into my car aggressively motoring down the road, late for work or in some exaggerated state of rush. Perhaps I will be in a position totally unrelated to what I just talked about and detach myself from the idea we are all human just doing our best to survive. That is very much a human thing to do, get caught up in the system and lose sight of life on the other side. But I will always use this experience to remind my self of the humbling fact that we own a car, we do not own the road.
“Self worth is compassionately knowing you’re worth your own appreciation regardless of your current limitations”
This was my finishing statement in an always deep and meaningful conversation I recently had with a close friend of mine. The bulk of the conversation lead through a rough patch he was currently experiencing in his personal life. Often we reach out to trusted friends or family when we are experiencing times of turmoil in our lives to seek a different perspective hoping to make sense of it all. And if you’re sitting there saying “no I certainly do not” give it a try the next time you find yourself feeling a little friction in life and notice not only how difficult it is to talk about ones problems, but how incredibly therapeutic it is as well. But that is a topic waiting to be written on another time. This is merely the back story that inspired my thoughts on, said, Inspiration.
I reflected on the conversation for a little while, as I do anything because I can’t simply let things go at the drop of a dime. It is both my blessing and my curse. It wasn’t necessarily what we conversed about in actuality that had my thoughts on the move, in regards to the happenings and situations throughout my life that enables me the opportunity to dig deep into conscious conversation and articulate the world as I know it in ways that can help not only my friends and family but more often than not my own self. What drives us to do the things that we do? My only conclusion is that we are inspired to hone in on our own special set of skills and practices by individuals that were once inspired very similarly to be the people they chose to be. Which brings me to my over accentuated point that if people before us didn’t act upon their inspirations. If they didn’t take a chance to embark on their uncharted revelations carrying only their good intentions and dreams alike then we wouldn’t we have anywhere near as many beautiful and thought provoking additions to our world. Would we have music that has ignited our lives in the morning, or overwhelmed our bodies with that tingling feeling of nostalgia? Would we have resilient individuals working to better the condition that our planet is aimed for? Would we have people willing to share their fitness journeys openly; inspiring so many with the courage it takes to be vulnerable in order to make a change both physically and mentally? And to the root of all this lettering, would I have created a small blog in a universe of online content, sharing my thoughts, experiences and inspirations in hopes of making a positive impact to those willing to read in if I was not inspired by those around me to do so?
So my conclusion is that no matter what it may be, or how insignificant your fear forces you to feel about your inspirations, just go for it. Fail if you must but at least you’re a little farther ahead in life with some new found experience. That alone is an achievement in itself. So take that leap once again towards the unknown and dare to find out what you are truly capable of, no matter what it may be. Because you never know who is tuning in and gaining insights, creativity, guidance, enlightenment or the courage to get through hardships of their own from your moments of genuine inspiration.
A land unknown to many and home to so few. A land of great resiliency with breathtaking views.
This is what I left Iceland knowing in my heart. A heart that was full. Full of visual ecstasy. A heart full of adventure and reassurance that there are an abundance of unimaginable wonders left in this world. From the familiar southern treasures like Diamond Beach or the beautiful glacial lagoon “Jökulsárlón”. To the secluded and astonishing monster to the north that is “Dettifoss”; a waterfall that is reputed to be the most powerful in all of Europe. Witnessing this power myself, it’s reputation does not precede it’s impressive power. All of which can be witnessed and enjoyed from the comfort of your very own home on wheels. I highly recommend it actually! The freedom to roam the inhabited landscape of Iceland in an all wheel drive camper van that is fully equipped with its very own wifi router and cooking utensils is a travelling experience like no other. It allows you the ability to really get off the beaten path (more so than you already are in that still very much untouched landscape). From rolling up to a hidden natural hot spring at dusk knowing we have no where to rush off to before dark. Allowing us to truly take in the geological pampering available all over this amazing country. To throwing a dart on a map and not looking back because we have all that we need with us packed conveniently under our cozy bed in the back seat. We experienced two sides of travel in Iceland. Bouncing from a rented car and an Air B&B in Icelands capital, Reykjavik. To touring the country side at our leisure in our rented camper van. Although the luxuries of running water and a drying machine are quite convenient and is a great experience nonetheless if you have limited time on the island. That isn’t what you are looking for when you travel to Iceland. You want to see it and experience it for all the adventure that it has to offer… and don’t worry there are many locations you can park your Van for the night that offer clean hot showers and common areas fully equipped with a washer and a dryer. That aside, Iceland is not a place we go to feel comfortable. I mean the name says it all… Ice-land. But the emotional and spiritual recharge you walk away with is a warm comfort in its own right. A place you go to be humbled by what our planet truly has to offer. A genuine sense of disconnect from our everyday busy lives if you allow yourself to be fully submerged into it’s almost unpredictable beauty. You might find yourself feeling a little more alive, I know we did.
Have you ever put in the thought about how complex and puzzling we as human beings are? The array of emotional chemicals that float in our brains; lubricating the very neurotransmitters that cultivate our abilities to process and cultivate our every movement and reaction within this grand existence we call life. If you had asked me 5 years ago this same question I probably would have put my beer down. Waved away the cannabis cloud lingering above and tried giving you my best Bob Marley impression in hopes to sound convincing. But after years of beating up my mind, body and soul I have finally found the ability to grasp just how puzzling and incredible we really are. We carry the power in one single body to completely destroy almost everything in our path, including ourselves and those around us. Yet we have equal capabilities to heal, restore and bring balance to almost everything around us. Best part of it all is we are gifted the choice. You might disagree about that being a good thing but I believe that for the most genuine or impactful outcomes the leading source must be that of a genuine choice to do so.
So where is this all leading? Well, in my experience of practicing both the power of destruction and the power to heal, I have come to a definite conclusion that the complexity of you and I isn’t as trivial as we are lead to believe. We are told we need doctors to prescribe our cures. Or teachers to quantify our intelligence. We are even lead to believe that we aren’t deemed fit for love. What if I told you that these are all social conditionings of a society still in its infancy? Is that all we are capable of, relying on others to fulfill our basic needs? I for one believe we are capable of so much more. More than disease or lethargy. More than quick and convenient fixes that lead to bigger problems down the road. I believe we are capable of exercising our very will to live and love with the most complexity through simple, minimal dose required exercises that lead to a far better understanding of ourselves and the life we chose to live.
First step in this journey is education. Much more than just sitting in a class, listening to a lecture of something you probably don’t really give a shit about. I’m talking about self educating and experience. Simply applying yourself to an interest of yours you’ve been putting off. Going out and getting out of your comfort zone. We all have those little personal interests that we fear sharing with others or dreams we couldn’t possibly pursue due to fear of failure or social backlash. That’s where you want to put yourself. Right in the fire of it all. Sure you may take those baby steps over the hot coal as long as you’re experiencing life in those areas of growth, but in the heat of the flame is where you should aim to be. That’s were you will see what you’re truly made of. This applies for all aspects of self education. From a physical stand point; exercise, yoga, athletics of any sort. Or more professional or personal. Want to start that new career or join that new group? Do it, because whether you make the finish line or not there is a 110% chance you will be a better person because of that initial action. The commitment to personal development will shed back layers you didn’t even know you had and that my friend is exhilarating.
It’s through this first step on your ‘hero’s journey’ that you begin to get to know yourself and how you subtly operate on a subconscious level. Perhaps you are like me and you are sensitive and emotionally driven. Sure it has its pros. It seemed like I was born with this intuitive mindset. Allowing me the ability to create some incredibly deep connections with people all over the world, and lead an exciting and passionate life. But it also is incredibly draining. Investing my emotions into almost everyone and everything can leave me feeling exhausted, anxious and even depressed some days, or even weeks. Making the choice to consistently learn and evolve through every situation I have faced has helped equip me with the tools to manage these very personality traits. Key word being ‘manage’, I don’t believe this journey ever ends but it makes our time here that much more enjoyable. Understanding who we are and what we believe to be our existence is a simple hack to living a fulfilling life, that will lead to so many incredible opportunities and connections.
So I encourage you to allow yourself the space to look within and all around you. Ask yourself if this is where you believe you are destined to be? What are you truly capable of? Do you believe yourself to be a product of societal conditioning or are you a fucking amazingly complex human being? Then begin to educate yourself on what it’s like to experience life on the other side. The other side of fear, rejection of failure. Because I can assure you, from my experiences alone, but I’m sure many others will agree, that whether or not you make it to the top you will wake up tomorrow a changed person. A person with the ability to conquer their fears with momentum under their feet. That alone is a success if you ask me. With that momentum you’ve grown accustom to the flame, your comfortable with the discomfort of growth or change. You can now exercise the will to understand who you are. Mapping out how you can empower yourself with the tools to cultivate the very life you “choose” to live. Let’s hope it’s a healthy and restorative one.
Toxic people or the sickness of toxicity,
Today more than ever we suffer from an ignorance of our impact on this planet. To our soil, our animals that inhabit the land, and more so the people we share this round ball of amazingness with. As we speak there are people at work to over throw efforts to reduce an already staggering number of plastic pollution in our oceans, our mountains and our landfills. Lobbyists at large are trying to reduce bans on certain plastics in certain areas. It has been said that if you piled all of the garbage in the Atlantic Ocean alone it would create an island that would tower over manhattan, never been to manhattan personally but that is absolutely mind boggling. So that brings me to the question of what kind of people are in support of this behaviour. Who could really be so ignorant to what is happening and continue their destructive push.. and it only led me to one conclusion. We as a species have a sickness. A moral toxicity if you will. Blinded by a superficial understanding of the world, fuelled by a condition of greed, conditioned by a strategic ploy to consume, and it is spiralling not only our species but every other species on this planet to what I could only imagine being a evolutionary and detrimental step in every direction but the right one. The frustration sometimes boils my blood. I can feel an anger that I can’t point in any beneficial direction other than a determination for doing everything I can to rid myself of this toxicity, this unnatural ailment that has detached us from not only nature but ourselves. A species at war with itself is almost guaranteed to not survive, and we are at the peak of that battleground. Sure we may not stand in the line of war, ready to charge at each other. But we are still at war with our health, our consumerism, our government and our birthright to be human that has been taxed and conditioned to believe that we owe anyone other than our planet a piece of our existence to simply BE. I understand this isn’t a treatment that is dealt with overnight. I also understand that there is no one at fault other than those who are trying to continue the path of destruction and paying quite handsomely for that to happen. I also don’t expect everyone to go out and become activist on the frontlines of this conflict. There are incredibly passionate people that are at work for us right now. All I do know is we owe it to ourselves and our land to do our part in reducing our negative impact on this earth. Taking simple steps to change our understanding of how life can be lived on this planet are as easy as making/buying/creating reusable products that can substitute plastic packaging. Growing and supporting local and ethical food sources. Simply being aware of what you are doing with each purchase or use of the things we subconsciously use in our day to day life that will have an incredible affect on this planet and our LIVES. Changing the way we view conflict will also have massive impacts. We can’t always forcefully affect our surroundings but we can change the ways in which we cooperate, function and consume in this life and that, in turn, has the most affective impact of where our world goes.
Mindfulness + Effort = change
I want to share a lesson I learned on humility and all around general happiness. At he peak of my success in my late twenties. What seemed like the moment of victory after doing the “personal” homework. I had filtered through my own bullshit, so to speak. Or so I had briefly thought. Midway through the last intake of my schooling program. I had never felt more focused or more determined. I had a clear vision of who I was and where I wanted to go and it felt great, but it also came at a cost. I allowed my ego a small seat at the emotional table. I had shaken many of my traumas and bad habits but this teacher we like to call life never truly leaves class. Allowing myself to go full “beast mode” and anyone who thought differently or wasn’t quite on my level should simply step aside. I was somewhat aware of this behaviour and I was somewhat unsure of how to shake it without losing sight of my vision. Until an opportunity disguised as a fellow student who was what seemed like to myself some of the others in class; annoying, distracting or not quite on the level I seemed to have imagined. There were instances where I was engulfed in this focus so much that I allowed my ego to judge and even lash out towards this individual and anyone who seemed to subconsciously obscure my train of thought. I wasn’t trying to be mean or inconsiderate. I was simply using what I had to become what I thought I wanted to be. Under all of this personal and educational pressure I would sometimes feel overwhelmed or stressed and would find myself wondering why I felt this way. Finally I felt that focus and immovable drive to go out and get after my goals. So why do I feel this stress and pressure without feeling equal amounts of joy. I questioned this for a while until that student came up to me sitting outside of class. Waiting to go in after lunch. He began to enquire about what we had learned in the previous weeks. My ultra focused head down in the material that he was in fact talking about. I looked up and in that moment my practices of mindfulness and awareness came to the head of my thoughts. I realized I had one of two choices. Either I was to continue the habitual behaviour my ego was fuelling and most likely remain in the unbalanced archetype that I had created. Shake off this individual and go back to doing what ever my ego was chiming me to do. Or I could surrender myself and put down the ideology that we are not equal or one in the same. Just two different stories and experiences walking through this life. For the short amount of time focusing on the same goal, like many others. I can have compassion for all those around me and not be the negativity we can often judge right away.
So you can imagine that if I had chosen option one there wouldn’t really be a point to writing about this experience, now would there? Immediately after that mindful filtering of my own bullshit I have a chance for a genuine connection with someone who at the beginning was thought as a distraction. That was my own perspective of the situation created through fear of losing sight of my goals. I was left with a flash of relief, a sense of joy pulse through my body. I could not help to crack a friendly smile towards this individual. It’s was a small paradigm shift that left a rippling effect of happiness on my soul. I carried this joy with me for the rest of the day. Where I reflected on that same question of why I didn’t feel the abundant amount of joy I thought checking off all these life boxes would fulfill. The lesson at large that I felt almost immediately after was that we are never to far ahead of ourselves to simply be our kind and present selves. In the end it’s those little authentic moments that leave us more mindful, more present and more happy. Productivity does not always lead us down the path of peace and fulfillment. We carry that with us no matter where we are in life. Through the little bits of joy and understanding we can bring to others at any given moment.