Alan's Blog

 

Travelling

"A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving".
Lao Tzu (1)

This has always been my ideal objective when I set out on a journey of adventure. I think this is the reason why, subconsciously, I don't like to plan a trip. I just like to follow my nose and see where I end up. Of course, in reality, my ideal trip has never come to fruition because there has always been a deadline to meet requiring me to get home for some reason

How I wish things were otherwise. I suppose I could have continued the bicycle journeys I made in the Philippines but for various reasons this didn't happen (see: http://www.alsblog.co.uk/cockroach.html). Looking back at this time, I wasn't at all used to travelling alone for an indefinite period of time, let alone on a bicycle, and I certainly didn't have the equipment necessary to do so. In fact, for the second of my bicycle tours I wasn't even in the right mind-set when I started the journey and so I found it really hard going, mentally, and was only too pleased to get back home. Neither trip lasted more than about two weeks even though I'd envisaged the first trip would go on for much longer it didn't happen.

Last summer, 2019, when touring with my car and our caravan for six weeks, I really didn't want to return home, but Grace and JP had deadlines to meet. As a family, we were all together and enjoying a whole variety of amazing places without the hardship of riding a heavily loaded bicycle – although I still believe the bicycle is the best mode of transport to use when touring. When JP and I rode Eurovelo 15 in 2016 (see: https://cyclingtherhine2016.blogspot.com/p/day-one-wednesday-27-july-2016.html), it took me quite some time to adapt to the fact that we were going to be away for five weeks. I'd never previously been away from home, other than when working away, for anything like that time. In fact, I found it quite scary in some ways. I know that makes little sense, especially when compared to those amazing people who ride off on their bicycles for several years at a time, but I found that it took a lot of getting used to. Of course, JP and I had both a time limit and a destination so we didn't come anywhere close to the philosophy referred to in the headline of this little article.

As I've mentioned before in some of my stories, the couple I met in 1990 who lived in and had been touring with their caravan for twelve years followed this philosophy quite well. They said it was so lovely to wake up in a morning and say something along the lines of "Where shall we go today – Italy?" (or anywhere else they chose to go).

Most people have the usual constraints of limited time, limited financial support, family demands and a whole host of other restrictions that are imposed on the vast majority of us would be travellers. Very fortunate are those who don't have these problems to deal with.

I suggest the real objective the philosopher is aiming to achieve in his travels is the one thing very few people are able to enjoy: FREEDOM.


(1) Lao Tzu, or "Old Master," is an honorary title for the ancient Chinese man whose original name was Li Er. As a saint or deity, he is known by many names, including Lao Jun and Lao Dan. He is credited with founding philosophical and religious Daoism.
Courtesy of https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/biography/lao-tzu-biography

 

 

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