Thursday, 14 July 2011

Rueben, How About a Second Chance?

     I went to a local bicycle shop to obtain a bike box for my plane trip to Europe for a lengthy cycle touring adventure. I told Rueben, the young man behind the counter of my travelling plans and in turn, he started to tell me of his past adventures. He said he was from Australia and that he had cycled through a number of countries of which I cannot remember. In fact, I didn’t really give him time to tell me much of his trips as I was too excited about my first, long cycling trip. I thanked him and off I went with my bike box and my head full of upcoming travel adventures.
     When I returned from my 6 month trip, I was disappointed in the number of people who did not access my website nor were they interested in hearing about my adventures. One incident that really irked me was a question from one of my cycling partner’s relatives who asked, “You two were in Europe weren’t you?” I responded by asking if she had not followed the website and she replied, “No, I didn’t have time.”
     I started to realize that not everyone is interested in travel and they don’t really want to hear about someone else’s adventures in the backwoods of Germany or climbing the Eiffel Tower. This thought is substantiated by an entry on Rolf Pott’s ‘Vagabonding’ blog by Jean Baudrillard on the difficulty of coming home from a journey: 
     “Coming back from a trip overseas means re-entering a world you have known and lived in, but doing so without feeling the charm you might expect at returning to a former life. You had left that world behind in the hope it might be thoroughly transformed in your absence, but nothing of the sort has occurred. It got along quite nicely without you and it adjusts quite smoothly to your return. People and things conspire to make it seem as if you had not been away. … People are a thousand times more preoccupied with their own little lives than with the strangeness of another world. You are best advised, then, to land discreetly, to come back politely into this world keeping anything you may have to say — along with the few sights still gleaming in your memory — strictly to yourself.” – Jean Baudrillard, America (1986)
     Phil Cousineau substantiates the above philosophy in his book, The Art of Pilgrimage (1998):
     Prepare yourself. It will be harder than you think to find an audience for your stories. If you get a chance, express gratitudes rather than platitudes when you get home. The real jewels are the hidden treasure-stories many people at home, everywhere throughout time, have longed to hear – stories of the real Shangri-la, tales of what the soul, not the ego, endured. Tell what you have learned from your journey.
     What I noticed about myself is that I have started to listen more intently to people who have travelled; I now ask questions and I feel ‘travel excitement’ when they share their stories and tales of their adventure in far away lands or even within our own province.
     I have since enquired if Rueben was still working in the same bicycle shop and was told that he is currently in England. I feel bad but I am not really kicking myself as I realize that I naturally fell into that personal, preoccupied mentality before my trip. But now, I apologize to you Rueben for not listening to your cycling adventures and if you give me a second chance, I would be honoured to hear about your trips.


  1. Hi Ric, so true ... you've brought up some interesting thoughts. makes me wonder though if the lesson is to listen more? or talk less and simply soak up the personal experiences of travel? I think that's why i've embraced writing ... I now have an outlet for expression regardless if anyone listens haha

  2. ...and great title, by the way ...made me want to read the story to find out who Rueben was!

  3. This is a beautiful piece Ric--and so glad you quote THE ART OF PILGRIMAGE!!