I have great news to start 2012. The Ted Simon Foundation announced 12 new travelers on January 1st, and of the 12 I am proud to say I am one of them. I have been thinking about what to write about the foundation but finally came to the conclusion that the best words are in fact from the about page from the foundation itself:Our world is in ferment as never before. While whole societies struggle to shrug off the dead weight of corrupt dictators new conflicts are inevitable. Environmental degradation threatens our future, and food insecurity is an immediate danger. Widespread ignorance nurtures the extreme ideologies and prejudices which tear us apart and prevent us from making rational choices for the benefit of humanity and the planet.
All of this is challenging but fertile ground for those of us who seek to understand the beauties, the mysteries and the tragedies of our world, and no traveller, in our experience, ever came home with a message of hate. (Emphasis mine)
We believe that individuals of good will, moving among foreign cultures and making themselves vulnerable to the beliefs and customs of strangers, have great importance in promoting world understanding, and even more so when they can distill the essence of their experiences into a form that can be absorbed by many.It was this belief that gave rise to the Ted Simon Foundation. The books written by Ted Simon following his solo motorcycle journeys continue to serve as an inspiration to other travellers who seek to know the world, and their place in it, through personal adventure. The purpose of the Foundation is to encourage and assist travellers in making an extra effort to develop their observations and insights into something of value for the rest of the world to share, whatever their medium of expression might be. As anyone who follows this blog may have guessed, for me the chosen medium is writing. From the Chasing Summer series on the Independent.ca, to the packlist to this blog, I have tried to demonstrate that the world is not such an evil place after all. That perhaps governments may not make the best decisions in the interest of its people or the world, but that the majority of the world’s people are kind and share a love of their family and wanting what is best for them, and often it is in the poorest countries that we have been taught to fear where you experience the most kindness from strangers. I also hope that it helps anyone thinking about going on a trip to do so. The trip of your dreams does not have to be one that takes months to complete. But if that is what you want I think it is more achievable than you have been led to believe. But if it’s a one week tour on a bicycle, motorcycle, or on a bus, do it. You will be better for it. Soren Kierkegaard said that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” For me that means that everyone makes mistakes and it is only looking back on life that we understand our choices and see what we could or should have done, or that we can be truly happy with what we did. I think it is always good to look forward and think about how I think I would like my life to look like when I look back. Then I try to do so. If even one person ventures out and tries to fulfill their dream based on the idea that if I can do it anyone can, I will be extremely pleased. But that won’t make me stop. 😉 So to end this post, I highly recommend two things; the first is to watch out this TED talk by Eve Ensler gave a fantastic talk on security, which is applicable on so many levels that I feel everyone should watch this. The other is to check out my fellow 2012 Jupiter Travellers! All of them are on amazing journeys that are worth following and highlight how travel can be used for enjoyment and understanding. (And all travellers, not just the ones announced on the 1st, can be found here!)
The 2012 travellers announced on New Years day: