I could have never come up with this idea on my own, not in a million years. If there’s one force in my life that governs my decisions more than anything else, it would probably have to be fear, and although I’m not proud of it, the fear of spending six months in the unfamiliar territory of Central and South America would have always been too great for me to ever think up this crazy plan.
It seems that everyone in the world wants to be in the world to a greater degree than they already are. I too was always attracted to the fantasy of being a worldly individual, but not to the journey it would take to get there. The journey was terrifying! It wasn’t safe!
What a devastating little monster fear can be. Always placing itself in between you and all the potentially wonderful possibilities of going out on a limb. Fear tries to convince you that, yeah sure, this might be the greatest adventure of your entire life, this could be the most inspiring and uplifting thing you have ever done, BUT on the other hand, what if things end up going bad? What if? It’s not about what you could gain! It’s about what you could lose. What if? What if? What if?
Shut up little demon!
That’s what I finally said to it. In December 2013, two months after Aidan had initially asked me if I wanted to join him on this adventure (and I had predictably replied with a “Thanks, but hell no”) I shot up in bed and reached for my phone.
“Is there still a spot left in the van?” I asked.
“Yes there is… Are you saying you’re in?” he said.
“Yes, fuck it, yes I am.” I said, even as that nasty little bastard on my shoulder tried to stuff the words back into my mouth. It was too late for him, it was time to take a dive, and the first step to doing that is to just jump. Jump without knowing what is going to come rushing up at your feet… just find out when you get there. For me, those words on the phone to Aidan that night, that was the jump. And it wasn’t easy, but I hoped that eventually I would realize that it would be easier than resenting myself for saying no while I witnessed the adventure from my computer screen rather than in person.
You’ve basically got two choices when fear rears its ugly head at you: charge it, or walk away from it. The thing about walking away from it, though, is you think you’re getting some distance from it. You think that every step you take in the other direction means it’s further away from you. The truth is that you can’t ever really walk away from fear. Fear lives inside you and if you choose to let it linger it’ll keep popping up. It will keep making decisions for you, and it will continuously be controlling what you do. The only way to really get rid of it is to run at it full speed. Do what it least expects and just barrel after it. When you come to the place it once stood, you’ll find it doesn’t really exist anymore. It was never as big as it looked. it was just a mirage, it was more afraid of you than you were of it. When it saw you coming, it bolted.
And so here I am. Seven months after I took that first jump on the phone with Aidan, I’ve probably taken hundreds more. It’s the nature of living in this perpetual motion machine. Fear lives in every new country, every new town we go to. Fear is behind the faces of the strangers we see, and the food we eat. Fear lies to the south and so that’s where we go. Every day we start up the van and push towards it we destroy it a little more, break it down piece by piece. Fear doesn’t stand a chance with my crew at my side.
And although I’m hardly an expert at looking fear in the face, I’m beginning to realize that as long as we keep the momentum up, there’s no limit to what can be overcome.
And so we press ever onward.