“How can one anticipate the unknown? Preparing for the journey was like living a paradox, like eating the cake before I’d had it. More than once I realised the absurdity of what I was doing. The whole point and beauty of the journey was not knowing what would happen next, but I could not help myself striving to work it all out in advance.”
– Ted Simon, Jupiter’s Travels
I am currently reading the perfect book. Ted Simon set out in 1974 from London on a brand new Triumph 500cc Tiger Hundred. It was his first motorcycle and for the following four years he travelled the world on it. I haven’t finished the book yet, but page after page I am inspired, amused and feel a constant sense that this man feels and thinks the same way as I do. As I feel such a kindred spirit with him, I will take the liberty of referring to him as “Ted” for the rest of this post.
An example of this likeness of minds is when Ted is in the first stage of his journey and he says, “I am learning, as I make my way through my first continent, that it is remarkably easy to do things, and much more frightening to contemplate them”. This is exactly how I feel when people tell me how dangerous our plans are, or how I don’t have enough experience or know my own limits. While I am hungry for advice from people who have travelled to the countries we are going to, or who have undertaken long motorcycle trips, I do take the constant stream of advice from armchair critics with a large pinch of salt. Yes, we are undertaking a difficult and dangerous trip, we know that, and that is part of the appeal. Nothing worth doing is easy and risk free.
Ted expands on the idea that the journey, as well as the destination, is important, “my entire philosophy depended on making the journey for its own sake, and rooting out expectations about the future. Travelling in this way, day by day, hour by hour, trying always to be aware of what was present and to hand, was what made the experience so richly rewarding.”
It will be worth it for the moments that take our breath away, the strangers who become close friends, and the difficulties that end up as stories to look back and laugh at. Ted tells of an encounter with a beautiful hummingbird in Brazil, “It was one of those few moments which I felt could justify one’s entire life. I made a note that ‘magic was simply experiencing something for the first time’. It occurred to me at the same time that my purpose should be to increase the number of such moments until maybe, one day, everything could be magic.”
I may post again about this remarkable book when I’ve finished reading it, but for now, I will take inspiration from Ted and make one of my aims for the Ultimate Ride to be to strive to make every moment be magic…