Sometimes an event happens that changes the way you see the world. I’ve had a few on this trip; probably the most dramatic being holding a dying boy in my arms. Has it made me stronger? I’m not so sure. I know from my last accident in the Pamirs that I don’t handle time off the bike well, and now as then there is the dramatic decline in my health, both physical (fcuk you Jaques Anderson) and possibly more worryingly, the mental challenge I face. But amongst all this, at my very lowest ebb, I have been dragged back from the edge.
I have met a young lady who has put my own difficulties into a fresh perspective and made me once more question myself. Her name is Hilke.
These are her own words:
“Traveling alone, especially if you are doing it in an unusual way, puts one in a position where one meets many people. The ones who like a good story but who would dread to go on an expedition like yours; and those who are on an expedition of their own. Mine is to find myself. Usually I do look for myself by bike, but due to an injured muscle that was not an option. So I ended up going to Canada without it. Within a few days, maybe even before starting to go on the lookout, I have met a number of truly interesting people. Derek is one of them.
There are good days, and there are bad days. Everybody knows it. But what most people don’t know – luckily – is that there are days beyond that limited range of good and bad. Days when getting up is not just asking for too much, but even just inconceivable. Crawling back into your shell, or bed, or whatever, curling up and forgetting about the world sounds easy in comparison. Days when you reach not only the point of giving it up, but also the point where even giving it up is… whatever.
And after a while, you’ll find, that beyond the point of hanging on, trying not to give up or the realm of even caring about it, there is more to come. There actually is a point beyond it all and then you have to go on. The sun will go up and it will go down, whether you are in a state of mind to appreciate it or not. Sometimes it will get better, but sometimes it is pretty damn certain that it will not. And you never know what point you are really at, until you reach it.
Having a bad day, however, is only part of it. People are another part of it, especially the ones who don’t understand at all, or, maybe even worse, the ones who think they understand, and subsequently try to make you ‘feel better’. A bad day is a bad day. Period. If you don’t like it, get yourself a tampon and stuff it. Then there are those people who run when the shitty times really start. Those who cannot deal with the place or the situation you are in, with the decisions you make. A bad day, singular or plural, is a bad day, and you do what you have to, to not have to do it.
Derek is having a couple (or more) of bad days, and, unfortunately, “whatever” is not interesting enough to post for several days after another. But he’ll be back when he’s ready for it. Don’t panic, don’t run for the hills just yet, and most of all, don’t do anything crazy to make him feel ‘better’. Bear with him. That is, if you can. And do not be afraid.”
A fellow traveler.
I hope by the time I see my bike again I have worked up the will to ride it. It will not be for a while and my immediate concern is to stop losing weight, and with the courage displayed by Hilke to try to stop feeling sorry for myself.