I think, throughout the years, I have probably teamed up with at least 25 people who wanted to come with me on an adventure or an Expedition, but who, somewhere along the line, dropped off and decided not go. Not nowadays, but it happened frequently when I first started 25 years ago. When it came to the day of leaving, they decided this was just not their choice of life. They just didn´t have the vision to brake free of what they thought society wanted from them. They didn´t have the guts. They were not ready to sacrifice their comfort level at that precise moment. They didn´t dare to take the step into the unknown…
I am talking the well-to-do-world here, not the developing world, where bare funds and pure survival is an issue every day. But I am still strongly convinced, no matter how complicated your circumstances are, if you want something very much, you go for it and you will eventually get it. But, the reason I highlight this topic, is due to the fact that amongst the thousands of emails I have received since that initial moment of leaving, many simply ask, what does it take to fulfill their dream to do this or that? And, when I think profoundly about the subject, one of most common things said to me after a lecture, when people come up to me for a small chat or posing a question, they say (all men, by the way, older, over 50):
“I would have done exactly the same, if this and that wouldn´t have happened.”
Well, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. Either you have the urge or not, but if you are right on the border, when it comes to go for it or not, whether it is a big Expedition or a weeks hike through the local mountains or forest, maybe these three tips can help you go for the adventurous choice. Because, there´s no doubt, every little adventure will raise your level of understanding and enjoyment of life.
1. Half the fun of any Expedition or adventure, is planning it. Go to the library and get all those books, maps, travel guides, reference bibles and encyclopaedia’s. Start researching and read. And once you have made a picture of what you want to accomplish in front of you, once you have started to realize the dream, I am sure things will get in the way, obstacles such as well meaning family members or the pressures of culture, well, this is the time to leave the books and contact real people. Phone, email or in any good way, get into contact with people who´s been there, who can assist you with realizing your dream and I think there´s very few explorers or adventurers or specialists who wouldn´t help you. If they don´t, I feel genuinely sorry for them. Without these people I wouldn´t have chosen this life for myself. I remember such a decisive moment very clearly up until this day.
Just before leaving on my first big Expedition, the one on a push bike from Chile to Alaska 1986-1088, I went to the local library in Dala-Järna to return the last of the books I had read regarding my trip and met a very good friend there, Gösta Tysk (unfortunately he passed away last year), in those days a globally well known nature photographer, with Alaska as a specialty and we had spent hours together talking about this amazing place. This time, he was together with his wife. She said immediately after I had said that I am ready to roll:
“Do you think you can do it? I think it is impossible.”
Hearing those words where a shock to me! In a few seconds a lost all confidence and stuttering I tried to find my words, red faced of embarrassment….a fell silent. My good friend moved in and saved me with this words:
“Of course he can do it!”
That was all I needed. A bit of confidence. 2 years later I reached my goal. Thank God I didn´t listen to Göstas wife!
2. Don´t listen to the voices of negativity! I am amazed how many people who actually spend so much time of their possibility to live and enjoy life, to try to ruin the life of others who wants to go beyond the limits of their beaks. It is beyond my concept of understanding! And they´re everywhere. Family, friends, acquaintances, pals at work and school, media…well, everywhere, even amongst other travelers, adventurers and explorers…it is especially hard in the beginning until everybody realizes that you are a lost cause and let you get on with life. After that moment of discovery, it is only opponents, media and people you have made unhappy along the way who will try to ruin your dreams…;-) As quick as you hear something negative, just turn of f your hearing and smile and say, yes, I will give that a good thought.
3. Buy the ticket! Once you have explained for those you love, why you have to do it, just buy that ticket and get on with it! And remember to enjoy every minute of it, whether it is a few days or many years, because next time around, it all starts from the beginning!