Rising like a phoenix from the ashes: let go of the person you are to become the person you are capable of becoming. Transformation can happen at any time. But at certain times, it is easier to let go of emotional baggage and redefine who you want to be. Be it during a caesura like these days – or when heading into high altitude deserts by bike, all by yourself. Enjoy the new episode of my podcast!
Discover the strength in vulnerability. This is likely one of the most personal episodes I will ever record. Handling the tragic accident of a close friend. Experiencing another loved one battling cancer. Approaching the snowy Pamir mountains alone on a bicycle. What do these situations have in common? They show us how fragile life can be. Embracing this vulnerability can leed to a deep respect for nature – and to an even deeper compassion towards others. Join me for this very personal episode.
Do you perceive the world from a state of lack or a state of abundance? Changing your perspective can fundamentally alter how you feel and act. From the hoarder who buys toilet paper for a year – all the way to a poor Tajik family who shared their last grains of rice with a stranger. Enjoy the second episode of my new podcast!
Apart from my bike Emily, my camera has been my most important companion in all those months on the road. This journey has taught me to settle into a much slower, gentler pace than what we are used to in our everyday routines. If I wanted to capture a particular scene with my camera, I took my time, sometimes hours, until I felt that I had finally managed to get the essence of this particular moment, this particular atmosphere.
It is hard to believe that I am back in Berlin these days, starting my self-employment as an author, speaker and photographer, narrating the stories of this cycling expedition. The goal of cycling the next continent is on the horizon, so I am maximally motivated to get things going. Just as last year, I selected 13 of my favorite photos from my journey, one per country I cycled through. 13 moments that meant a lot to me, both while I was taking the photo and now, in hindsight. Ready to follow along for a little mental journey?
First things first: I have a little New Year’s surprise for you. And I am very excited about it! When I first arrived in Thailand, I realized that this is the 12th country I will be exploring solo by bicycle. This felt like a good time to look back on where this journey has taken me so far. The thousands of kilometers, the challenges, the joys, the epic landscapes, stunning culture and the many people whose kindness I will never forget.
Everybody faces her fear sooner or later in her life. The real one. The big one. Not the small ones that we believe are so important – be it being humiliated, failing in front of others, showing emotions when we are vulnerable, … These are the kinds of fear we are used to in our everyday lives. No, there is an existential fear that is a completely different matter. It is a fear that teaches you what fear really is. An instinctive fear. A primeval fear. A fear you might feel when you are running for your life. A fear that many of us are only facing when we are on our dying beds. I believed that death would not scare me and maybe it actually doesn’t. Still, leaving alone for the Pamirs, on this wind-swept day, on this empty road, towards those towering mountains, I felt as if I was jumping off a cliff. I decided to trust the universe to catch me. To accept that everything beyond this jump is beyond my control. To hand myself to these mountains and accept whatever the outcome.
I had thought of other things to share, but after the terrible events in Beirut and Paris, this would feel off to me. What I do want to share with you, though, is a statement that occured over and over again during my journey, in particular during the many days that I spent cycling and walking along the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border: ‘We are no extremists.’
When you are travelling alone, nobody sets any rules for you. Still, some travellers decide to set rules for themselves, in particular when they are on the road for longer. One rule I encountered among cyclists is to cycle every inch of the way, for example. Others set out with the aim to only hitchhike. And really, it is totally up to you which flavor you want to give to your journey. Or maybe which challenge you want to tackle. Maybe even more so when you are travelling solo. Upon encountering other people’s rules, I started to think if I wanted to have any. The inner debate did not take long.
My main rule is: there are no rules.