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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me
My brother was really keen to write a story about the time we shared, so today’s update is written entirely by him. I can’t express how much it means to me. Thanks Mike!
My brother Dan has been road tripping for a while now. He is a few months into his epic 50 000km odyssey; driving and hiking to find special places and people (or what I like to call ZenFun). Ever since he and I have been traveling the world we have had a friendly rivalry around who can do something more epic than the other. Right now he is taking the cake – and eating it too!!
So when he got close to my current home in Nelson, BC it was crystal clear that I would meet up with him and ‘live the road’ for a while.
My role in our journey revealed itself over time to be:
- To make Dan look buff in photos
- To remind us how glad we are to be alive by evoking death threats from young girls’ fathers
- To help Dan blow his budget sky high
- To discuss the meaning of life as if I have a clue
None of these were intentional, but sometimes you just go with what you’re given!!
I rolled into Pemberton, BC on my BMW motorcycle to be greeted by a tanned looking guy with a huge smile. It was Dan, but somehow different. You could almost see an inner calm and contentment in his relaxed but confident gait. Maybe it was because he was not wearing shoes or shirt. Maybe it was that I was really happy to see him. In any case we were stoked to see each other. We each bubbled with our respective stories from the last couple of months since we’d seen each other in Northern Alberta, at tree planting camp.
Dan had plans to see hot springs and being the aficionado that he is meant that this would involve much more than a trip to a glorified swimming pool style resort.
It meant that we visited multiple naturally-developed hot springs and a totally undeveloped one at Frank creek that very few people have ever seen.
Upon thinking about Dan getting these directions from possibly the only person who knows them I found myself reflecting on how the universe seems to put the right things in the path of a person who is actively living life. Just like in Paulo Coelho’s beautiful little book The Alchemist where he talks about each person’s “Personal Legend”:
Central to the novel is the concept of a Personal Legend.
Santiago first learns of one’s Personal Legend from The King of Salem, who tells him:
It’s what you have always wanted to accomplish. Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is.
He expounds on this, saying
…there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.
The King also tells Santiago of the importance of following the omens on the journey to realizing one’s Personal Legend.”
So it seems that because Dan’s odyssey is authentic and genuine, it originated in the ‘soul of the universe’. Because it has come from the earth it means that things will naturally fall into place as they need to for him along the way. Not in the sense that he can put his feet up and wait for good things to happen, but in the sense that while he is living in this way, the universe will provide. Maybe not even to make his journey easy. But certainly to make it an adventure.
To me this idea of a Personal Legend doesn’t say that there is one specific meaningful thing that a person is to do in their lives, to me is says that if what you are doing is all that you can dream, without concession to fear or normalcy then it is the right thing to be doing and naturally, the universe will help you to do that, because you are living your life on the level of the universe. Another way of saying this might be to say that when you are living “the right way” you are a healthy and harmonious part of existence and the whole of the universe operates better around you.
…Wow!! I like the sound of that – Yeah Dan!!
Following Dan’s Personal Legend then, we dropped my motorbike off in Horseshoe Bay (which proved to be expensive) and Ferried/Drove our way up the Sunshine Coast and across to Vancouver Island. We were finally closing in on the famed West Coast Trail and the sense of excitement was growing ever greater. The forest of Vancouver Island is so grand, so green, and so alive. The thought of living in this for a few days was inspiring!
When we arrived at the trail head we were told that the trail was full that day and we would not be able to start until the next day. Using our Zen approach, we made sure not to see this as a setback and were rewarded with a beautiful story.
After ‘the tourists’ left for their hike, Dan and I got chatting with the friendly Parks Officer. She shared some stories of rescue missions for hikers on the trail over the last few days; including being attacked by a swarm of wasps and having a camping stove explode in your face – woah!!
As we were parting she said
“Hang on guys; I have a video here that you just have to see”
Dan and I looked at each other and I could sense that this was an omen for us.
We replied in unison.
We sat down to a simple, low budget documentary called “Sombrio.” It tells the story of a community of squatters and surfers that lived for over 30 years at Sombrio beach on Vancouver Island’s West Coast (just south of the WCT). The film depicts the simple lives of the people and how they were forced out of their self-built homes in the late 1990’s when the Juan de Fuca trail was created through the area. This eclectic collection of people was able to form a functioning community in the wilderness using not much more than their wits and a respect for simplicity. The story really resonated with me. I too have become disenchanted by society. To me it is crazy to measure standard of living by how much each person consumes. This is but one example of how inhuman an industrialized society has become. Surely this doesn’t bring happiness? Is the answer to try to change society? Is the answer to leave it? I sure loved seeing an example of how that could be done. Inspiring.
Later that day we were strolling through Port Renfrew and at the fishing dock we bumped right into one of the main people from the Sombrio story – Rivermouth Mike (His house was on the mouth of the river).
“Hey! We just saw you on the movie Sombrio!!” I exclaimed with a big smile.
“I’m really glad to meet you” He replied with a sincerity that was so unusual as to make me feel a bit uncomfortable. Right away I could tell that this person was actually talking to me. Not just talking to fill the space, but communicating directly with me. Wow.
“Do you still get down to Sombrio?” Dan wondered
“I surf there almost every day” He said.
“More in the winter”
“Nice!” We replied in unison
Rivermouth Mike went on with warm chatter about days gone bye and life as it is now, keen to share with a couple of strangers from afar. Something about him made both Dan and I want nothing more than to hang around him and absorb his aura. His eyes were so alive – a mix of crazy and enlightened I think!
Finally we dragged ourselves away, the both of us beaming and feeling lucky to have met Rivermouth Mike – a man who lived in a diverse community of squatters away from society.
The next day we went for the hike and it sure was everything we hoped for. Spending time in the West Coast forest is a beautiful thing. Good for the soul for sure.
Getting to spend a couple of weeks with Dan on his adventure sure was great. Every time we catch up it becomes grounding, encouraging and thought provoking. I’m lucky to have such a brother. It seems that driving his Jeep down the Americas is as much a spiritual journey as it is a physical one. I love the way he is able to spread the joy he is creating with a wider audience through this web site.
I can’t think of anything more valuable for a person to do. Maybe that is the purpose of life – to create and spread Joy!!!