Be careful – choose carefully – who you surround yourself with.
What other people think and believe will also come true for you, for better or for worse.
I arrived at a Hostel in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and was happy to be greeted by another fellow cyclist. He groaned about the horrible ride in from the Airport and I stared at him in disbelief.
“It was an AMAZING ride! I exclaimed, thinking to the fields and fields of wild cannabis, young boys riding scrawny, wild eyed ponies, dirty young kids shrieking with joy in the river, and vast green fields dotted with colourful flowers.
I couldn’t stop smiling.
He had taken the direct path along the main road. Although he was on a bike. I couldn’t understand why he’d do such a thing.
I showed him my purple stained fingers.
“I even got to eat fresh, sweet berries for free along the way!”
“Oh” he said shaking his head, “You shouldn’t do that, that could be dangerous. They could be poisonous.”
And again, I stared at him in disbelief.
Who the fuck was this kill joy?
The following afternoon he kindly showed me where I could buy a gas canister from.
“Be careful on the road. It’s crazy. I was almost killed 2 times riding today. It’s the worst place I’ve ever ridden.”
“Oh it’s fine” I tried to shrug him off.
This time it was he who looked at me in disbelief.
It seemed fine.
“I’ve ridden in much worse places. It’ll be fine.” I repeated, more for my benefit than anything.
I felt his condescending look. He’d already mocked me for being a ‘professional’ having bike shoes and questioned the cheap componentry on my bike.
“It’s totally fine” I told him.
This was the first time in 7 years where I’d chosen to use a cheap bike. I still didn’t know if I was making the right decision. His questioning continued to gnaw at me.
I also couldn’t help but think of his words
‘I was nearly killed 2 times today.’ I felt myself finding excuses to go out on my bike. I sat around chatting to the other interesting travellers. I felt angry at him for inflicting such fear on me, but I knew that I was the one who was allowing it to happen. I couldn’t shake it. I was pissed at myself.
I went out riding and was very cautious and hesitant. I kept having to tell myself to breathe and relax my shoulders.
‘Fuck em, he’s not me’ I tried to convince myself.
‘Nearly dying’ was such a bold statement to get out of my mind.
Sure to understand the risks is one thing, but most importantly to put it to the back of your mind, make peace with it all and enjoy the experience is paramount.
What you think about you ultimately bring about.
That night I discussed the idea of risk with other travellers – other well travelled travellers who had been to Iraq, Afghanistan and the neighbouring countries that were on the ‘avoid for non essential’ travel list. They were much like me in their approach.
They shrugged their shoulders. Sure there was a risk, everything was a risk, but the consensus was that living an ordinary life was more lethal.
Now I know for some of you this may sound dismissive, silly or even plain stupid, but what about the free climbers, paragliders, or people who sail around the World by themselves (or any other so called risky activity?)
People push boundaries, limits, and dare on the side of risk and possible despair.
What life is a life if you play it staying safe and small?
Year by year your comfort zone gets smaller and more restrictive and goals become dreams, become wishes, become ‘oh one day I might.’
How is this now considered normal and accepted?
How really is living a life less than you’re capable of and not achieving what you’d ultimately desire ok in society?
I told them the story of the other cyclist and how I’d let his (what I call) negativity and fear mongering affect me.
“We ALL have this fear in our head” I started to rant.
“Hell its drummed into us from such a young age.
Watch out for this. Be careful here. Be careful there. Don’t slip. Don’t fall. Don’t climb so high you might fall.
But don’t you think we all know this?
Don’t you think we ALL have the loud voice in our heads that tells us we can’t do things, that we’re not good enough, that we might fail, that we’re not strong enough, smart enough, capable enough, brave or adventurous enough?
Don’t we need to be surrounded by people that tell us to reach higher, climb higher, be brave and adventurous and go out and take risks?
Can you imagine how life would be for us all if we weren’t so fearful?
Can you imagine if we stopped with the ‘be careful’ ‘stay safe’ and if we removed the ‘don’t’ and can’t’s from our vocabulary and focused on what we wanted to promote instead?
How about if we lifted each other up congratulated others successes and got behind their dreams and goals, maybe adding, so you think you could do or be more than that perhaps?
How would life be for you?
How much more would you have, do and be?
So choose wisely the people you hang around the most. Because they WILL affect you whether you like it or not.
You are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Look around you. If you don’t think that it’s for your best, then change it, change who you hang with. You’re not a tree you can leave.
So, Watch your language.
Lift each other up.
Support each other to do, be or have more than they believe they can.
Encourage your children to climb high, far and long and never stop chasing their dreams.
You can, and ultimately you will, if you just stick with it and persevere.
I believe in you.
I 100% believe in you.
So use that like a trampoline to bounce off.
But whatever you do just keep bouncing until you find that bounce inside.
It’s in there, and you do deserve the life you desire.