Once a month Going Forth features a guest blogger from around the world. Someone who has received insight, empowerment and fortitude from going forth and breaking the mold of conventionality and mediocrity.
This month, I am proud to feature Shirine Taylor, a 20-year-old cyclist, who has been touring the world on her bicycle for over a year. Read about her amazing journey.
Cycling around the world, especially as a twenty-year old solo female, sounds crazy until you actually begin. After backpacking through South America at eighteen I knew that I would be traveling for the rest of my life, but I also knew that I wanted something different. I wanted to visit villages where no other tourist had ever previously been in order to see the true culture of a place rather than the set up tourist towns which make up the backpacker trail. I wanted to live my life surrounded by nature, camping every night in the mountains and bathing every evening in the rivers. I wanted freedom, an ultimate freedom which is only possible from being completely self-sufficient. I didn't want a vacation or even a trip, I wanted a sustainable, healthy, and happy lifestyle which would allow me to experience every facet of our world.
After readying cycle blogs from others who have taken up life in the saddle I knew I had found my calling. A few months later I went forth and set out on a bike I had never ridden to cycle across my own country, the USA, as a warm up for the rest of the world. Within three days I had a whole new perspective on humanity. I was taken in by countless of strangers who gave me a house to call home, food to sustain me, and the encouragement and confidence I needed to continue proudly on my way. I saw the best of my own country which prepared me to see the best of the world.
This phenomenon, the kindness of strangers, has now become a staple in my life because in every single country I have visited I have had dozens of people take me in. I have slept in high altitude villages in the Himalayas so remote that the nearest road is over a week away. I have lived in slums and farming villages alike where I have cooked with the women over open dung fires and have run with the children through fields of sugar cane. I have been invited in by the rich who treated me like a queen, and even more touching, by the poor who have taken me in even when they don't have enough to feed their own family. I have been shown time and time again that us humans are magnificent creatures of hospitality and kindness when we are given the chance to thrive.
Going forth and living the life of my dreams has taught me as much about myself as it has about the world. Surviving in the harsh patriarchal reality of India has made me more proud than ever to be a women, and more determined than ever to show the world, wherever I happen to be, that us gals can do anything. Seeing intense discrimination and class division has also made me realize how important it is for our world to strive for equality and oneness in order to bring about a positive change. It's been over a year now since I set out to live my life on the road and I know that my experiences have irrevocably changed the course of my life.
So what has going forth brought me? Besides showing me an in-depth look into cultures around our globe it has brought me a simplistic lifestyle of happiness. It has shown me that material wealth is not what makes us successful. Living out of my tent and cooking on a small petrol powered stove has shown me how little us humans really need to survive, and that the material goods we so easily collect just as easily holds us back. It has shown me that family, community, and cooperation is vital to our survival as a species, as is protecting our natural world. It has taught me that anything is possible, and that living the life of your dreams is the best way to life instead of just survive.
So go forth and see for yourself. Go forth and find your passions and turn them into your life. Spend more time outdoors and less time on the computer, and learn the see the world around you with an open and curious spirit. Go forth and make the most of your life because, as Jane Goodall has said, "What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”