Saturday, June 6, 2009

Food for thought

Here in Manali, in the north of Himachal Pradesh state, India, I have been taking a few days off to enjoy the mountain views and ready myself for a trip into Kashmir-- I leave for a 20-hour jeep ride tonight at 2:30 am. One thing I have been doing to relax is watching episodes of "Long Way Down" on YouTube. It's a series about Ewan MacGregor (the movie star) and his best friend riding their motorcycles from north Scotland to the tip of South Africa. The series is a sequel to "Long Way Around," in which they rode their motorcycles from London to New York City going east through all of north central Asia, a series I watched as part of my mental preparation for this trip.

Anyway, in the episode I am currently enjoying, Ewan is mentally preparing to cross into Africa the next day for the next leg of his trip, and he said something useful to those of us engaged in long-term travel:
"I embarked on this journey in complete excitement about Africa and then was scared by several people who we met or encountered through our prep who scared the bejeezus out of us. And then I've realized: if that's the case you shouldn't go. Either you do it, or you don't go. You know? And then you have to give yourself into it, take it as it comes. And if there's scary things that happen, there are scary things that happen. And that's why you're out there in a sense. You're out there for adventure, and it becomes a question of how you deal with the situation you're in. You can't control what's going to happen. And the whole point is that you're out to let what happens happen, that's why youre here. If you knew it was going to be a safe and smooth passage, would there be any point doing it?"

Another travel philosophy to tuck away beside the "killer octopus" theory. Quite useful to those of us who tend toward travel anxieties.

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