I’m not easily rattled. I’m not one to be shaken off his goals and dreams without a good fight. But I’d be lying if I said getting back on Anne Murray after our crash was easy. In fact, it was pretty damned difficult.
Looking back on my life, I’ve never been in a real car accident before this one. And I’m not sure I ever really understood how people could get so flustered by something like that. But today I get it. Each car on the road feels like a potential bomb or bullet. Every bump on the road looks like a mountain covered in demons; each pothole seems ten-feet deep. Each time I hit the breaks I worry that my back tire is going to slide out and I’m going to find myself skidding down the highway once again.
This is the first time I’ve ever felt like I wasn’t going to be able to complete the challenge of Africa. Anne Murray is battered and bruised. She’s not driving right, but it’s my spirits that are causing her to shake the most. While up until now, I’ve always seen Cape Town as surety, today I’m not so sure. I wonder if I’ll make it off of this continent alive.
Fear is such an interesting emotion. It’s something that I’ve searched out my entire life. I have loved fear. Like a moth to a flame I’m drawn to it, regardless of the dangers it poses. I think perhaps the normalcy of my life growing up has caused me to seek out the adrenaline inducing moments in this world. But I think today I’ve realized that there’s a difference between controlled fear and real apprehension.
It would be easy for me to tell you that the fear that I feel today pushes me, it makes me more aware, and it protects me, but that’s a lie. Today I feel the type of fear that saddles people. I don’t feel like driving on these roads any more. I don’t feel like twisting and turning through traffic. I don’t feel like this is a videogame anymore. I think for the first time in my life I understand what it feels like to be on the edge of losing everything that’s important to you.
When I crashed, I didn’t think about all the things I would miss out on if I were to die. I didn’t have any regrets about the things I have or haven’t done. I didn’t feel sad that I’ve never seen China or Australia. I saw my mother’s face when she heard the news. I saw my friends at my funeral. I saw my grandparents, my brother, my sister, and the niece and nephew I’ve still never met.
Sometimes, I think, it takes moments like this in our lives to realize how selfishly we are living. Quite often I brag about not being afraid of death, but death isn’t an isolated incident, it affects everyone you know. I think that before you realize that point, it’s easy to live your life selfishly and carelessly. It’s easy to forget that there are people in this world who feel like they need you.
But at the end of the day, there is the realization that sometimes you can’t control life, and certainly not death. All you can do is make sure you nurture the relationships that you have and take advantage of all the opportunities you have to spend with the ones you love.
Over the past 3 or 4 years I’ve lived pretty selfishly. I’ve travelled the world for me and myself alone. I’ve searched out moments of empowerment for no one but myself, I’ve climbed mountains for me, and I’ve searched for fear in hopes of triggering my own self-enjoyment.
I think when I get to Cape Town, when I finish this journey, it’s time to start being a little more responsible to those who I care about, those who care about me. I need to spend time with my niece and nephew, with my brother and my sister, my parents, with my friends, because at the end of the day you never know if the next time you see them will be your last.
My adventures will never come to an end, nor will my constant search for challenge, adventure and, yes, fear. But at the very least, getting back on Anne Murray has taught me is that this life is not a video game and our actions have consequences that stretch well beyond our own person.
At the end of the day, this experience has been another life lesson provided with the staggering force that only travel could teach it.