My third book, Ten Lessons from the Road, came out earlier this year. I’m really pleased with it, and I would love people to read it. But I’m realistic about how few people will actually read the book. So I decided to give it away -for free– here on my blog. Hopefully it will reach more people that way.
Ten Lessons from the Road has ten chapters, each one short, sweet and ideal for a blog post. I’m reproducing them here, one each month, and I hope you enjoy them.
The only downside of this is that I can’t reproduce on the blog the beautiful photos and cool layout of the book which make the book what it is. But, hey, it’s free here! You can see how the actual book looks in the 30-second preview video above.
10 – THE WORLD IS A GOOD PLACE
Fear less, hope more;
Whine less, breathe more;
Talk less, say more;
Hate less, love more;
And all good things are yours.
This final chapter is not really a call-to-arms, nor is it particularly encouraging you to change anything in your life. I just wanted to end the book positively, and what more positive thing could I do than to try to remind you what a good and wonderful world we live in.
Dance as though no one is watching you. Love as though you have never been hurt before. Sing as though no one can hear you. Live as though heaven is on earth. – Souza
When I left home to try to cycle round the world I was worried about many different things. Friends, family and people I met along the way worried about only one thing on my behalf: my safety.
The world is a dangerous and wicked place. We all know that, we watch the news. Wars, murder, knife crime, terrorists… This daily diet floods into our lives. We become bigoted and paranoid. We become afraid. The world is a bad place.
Yet if one good thing and one thing alone came out of my journey round the world, it was the realisation (or perhaps the reminding) that the world is essentially a good place and a suitable place for us to live out meaningful, rewarding and fulfilling lives.
Camping one night beside a large haystack in a village, high in the highlands of Peru, I chatted for a couple of hours with a gathering of villagers. They sat around and shared their evening relaxation time with me. I began to set up my stove to prepare my dinner. But the people motioned me to stop. It had already been taken care of. Minutes later a young woman walked carefully down the field from the houses, carrying a tray with a bowl of soup and a plate of chicken and rice for my dinner. The woman watched me eat until my plate was empty and she was satisfied that the gringo had enjoyed her cooking. People who invited me into their homes often worried that I would not be able to eat ‘their’ kind of food. But an enjoyment and appreciation of food brought us closer together; it was something we could share and enjoy together whatever linguistic and cultural barriers stood between us. The villagers appreciated the concept of my journey, of adventure and wanderlust and seeing the world while I was young. They offered their support, asking what they could do to help. I told them that they were already helping me so much, as evenings like those made it all worthwhile. To feel at ease and welcome when you are far from home is one of the sweetest feelings of travelling.
Generosity, openness and trust were evident wherever I travelled. Perhaps I was exposed to these traits more often than in a normal life because of how I was travelling. I was always a novelty, I was young and broke and wandering free. I was potentially vulnerable, but I forced myself to be open and trusting and to smile a lot and it was reciprocated in waves. Strangers inviting me to stay and rest in their homes. Cars stopping to hand me an orange or a bottle of water. Villages in Africa permitting me to stay in the chief’s hut. People phoning radio stations to offer me their own bikes to replace my dying one. Schoolchildren baking me a birthday cake. A family lending me their home for a week while they were on holiday. The Yakut people in Russia whisking me in out of the cold. Cars on five continents beeping their support and encouragement. Thousands of people allowing me to fill my water bottles at their home or shop or village well. All the people who smiled and shared a joke and made me feel that I was not far from home, but actually at home in the world. Don’t believe what you see on the TV: the world really is a good place. A good place to set outrageous goals, to achieve them, and to make the very most out of life.
Finally: Simplify your life.
Slash away all that is superfluous. Get rid of everything -material possessions, emotional ties, time commitments, resentments- everything that does not add happiness to your life or the lives of others. Walk away from all that constrains and constricts you. Simplify your life and you will benefit.
THE END (or just the beginning?)
If you enjoyed this chapter you can read the others here.
Or solve all your Christmas shopping hassles with one swipe of the credit card by buying copies for all your friends, families and co-workers here!