Getting Back Up on the Horse, Or Anne Murray

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 street I crashed my moto... it didn't look so pretty when I was laid out on it in pain.

This is the street in Buea I crashed my moto… it didn’t look so pretty when I was laid out on it in pain.

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.

Limbe, Cameroon

Not much to fear on the beach… maybe I’ll just hang out in Limbe, Cameroon the rest of my life.

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.

Limbe, Cameroon

Dusk in the coastal town of Limbe, Cameroon

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 niece and nephew.  Photo by my sister, check out her work at Jen van Son Photography.

My niece and nephew. Photo by my sister, check out her work at Jen van Son Photography.

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.

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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  1. This is a very open and honest piece, that certainly makes one think about what’s really important in life. May you and Anne Murray both get your mojo back soon.

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    • Glad you liked the piece Roxanne… Anne and I both seem to be ready to get at it again… a little bruised body and soul, but we are ready!

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  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this powerful and touching article. I am glad you are ok, and looking forward.

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    • Glad you like the article Val, I’m ready to hit the road again “Time to get it!!!”

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  3. Hiya, read your article &… it is touching.
    Like the idea that life has the power to put us back on a “good path”.
    Events so difficult are often presents in the end…
    Let time help you with your “fear feelings” and they’ll settle somewhere in side of you smoothly.
    I really wish you enjoy the rest of your African trip,
    Take care.

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    • Thanks for checking in ET, I’m glad you like the article. Yeah, my theory of fear has always been to tackle it right away or else it grows and begins to develop into something bigger. I’m back on the saddle now and ready to get back at it! 😀

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  4. It’s important that you’ve come to this realization that it isn’t just about you, but don’t let it rob you of doing what makes your life worth living. Just be honest with yourself: Can I pilot Anne Murray safely to Cape Town? If you’re not so sure, you can always just take transport the rest of the way, no shame in that. But I believe what happened was an anomaly, and as long as you drive defensively, I think you’ll be fine the rest of the way!

    Be safe, and keep showing us new frontiers in travel!

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  5. Hi I read your article. it is full of love & life .great jo keep it up.

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  6. I can’t even begin to understand what you went through but in some way I understand what you mean about travelling for yourself… each time I head off I think about those who I’m leaving behind and what it’s doing to them. Catholic guilt probably!

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