Adaptation it’s the reason we’re here. Adapt or die. This whole journey has been a long slow process of adaptation. I had to adapt to losing my close group of friends at work and at home. accessible only through the ether in the form of text messages, Facebook likes, ephemeral snapchats, dislocated Whatsapp voices and if I’m lucky the occasional FaceTime or Whatsapp call. It’s not so bad. Without all this modern tech there would be no communication at all except maybe a phone call and the odd post card to a family member. I think actually my being connected and knowing what goes on back home is harder than total ignorance. Getting out of the mindset of your old life is like severing ties with an ex – always easier when it’s a clean break. Not possible though I’ve been linking back to people from my old lives to create opportunities on the road it’s what my friend Isabella Pighi calls my social capital its why I’ve pretty much never deleted a Facebook friend. That and I am a digital hoarder.
Life on the road is much like life not on the road. You slip into some kind of routine: wake up, pack up, check route, cycle to the nearest bar for coffee and a sink wash, slide in contact lenses, sunglasses on, sun lotion check… Grit teeth get on bike and ride. Enjoy the view what an amazing view. Take pictures. Take video. Connect to wifi create more information another drop in the ocean. Back on bike, don’t enjoy the climb, enjoy the rush of a downhill run. Get hungry. Eat haribo. Make lunch or buy it if you’re lazy. Experience buyer’s guilt because you know you have finite cash reserves but your only luxury is food so fuck it. You quit smoking just to break with routine. Time for a nature poo. Get horny wank into a bush. Read book, you’ve read ten so far more than you read in two years you realise. Your mind is buzzing with ideas conversations you imagine having with real and imaginary people.
Stop. Make fast friends but hold back because you could leave tomorrow or in two days. Try to get over that feeling but realise the people you met are only interested in you as a sort of curiousity. You’re not the outgoing 18 year old backpacker you were. You know what the conversations will be you crave depth you rarely get it but when you do it’s like the sky unfolding and some deity has smiled on you. Then you have to keep moving always aware of the season and a self-imposed time limit. Experience the amazing kindness of strangers and try to be a kind stranger to repay the social debt you are slowly accumulating.
You realise everything you wanted the journey to be despite the fact that you had no clue what the journey would be is not what the journey is. It’s just a journey nothing more. Any meaning it has is what you ascribe to it. It’s the best thing in the world, easy and hard, incredible and horrible in short all things but mainly all yours.
The path has changed more times than I can count… First the route changed from Czech Republic to straight down through Germany then unexpectedly a visit to Venice. A quick jaunt to Ljubljiana to stay with a Korean a decision to do the Croatian coast because you know that inland it’s all hills and you like the sea. You can bathe in the sea when there is nothing else. No capoeira in Serbia or Iran. No Silk Road for you just the desert on the Kazakh Steppe… How the hell do I get to India, is the Tibet/Nepal border open, cross that bridge when you come to it.
On the bike cycle into the night. Miss the view it’s dark but there are no cars on the road just you the cicadas and the stars. Your lights die, time to camp. Reboot
Your plan to visit all the places you dreamed of changes from that meandering path of of sub-goals to one straight line. If left to dominate your sub-goal path would trump the main goal – get to Singapore.
Creating friendly AI is hard for the same reason. You can’t just program the objective ‘take care of all humans’ because it might come up with a sub-goal where it decided to herd us into camps to easily monitor us in other words sub-goal trump. Better keep us under lock and key to keep us safe…
I was harsh with Mark Beaumont, the man who cycled the world. I thought his journey was boring because he had only one goal get there fast. But one goal is all you need everything else that happens inbetween is a bonus and shouldn’t distract from the main goal unless… Unless in the end that’s what you wanted along. Adaptation you must change to make it and if you don’t no one really cares anyway but it’s on you. You care that’s all that matters. I have to go the main goal is calling. Writing is a sub-goal its doesn’t trump.