DECEMBER 2011 – Newsletter #4

The Ted Simon Foundation

Current News

A recent set of thoughts triggered this newsletter as light bulbs went off like little Christmas trees in my head after a ‘conversation’ on a social networking site. Each twinkle involved an understanding of something I had learned, experienced, or been fortunate to achieve on circling the world. In fact, all those little twinkling lights really revolved around the true meaning of many things; including overland travel.

You see, it is a fact that some of us have been LUCKY to set out across the world on a motorcycle. Notice the word ‘lucky’ as I mean the word in its entirety. It comes after 30+ years of waiting to complete such a journey and, as such, I believe it is an apt word choice. Never do I forget it. I was lucky. I still am.

Thus, in anonymity, Cathy and I climbed on an old R100RT and 26,385 miles later, we came back slightly less so as she became the first blind person to do such a thing. While this is true, it is funny how life events can quickly slam everything into perspective as within six weeks of arriving home Cathy received a diagnosis of cancer. In one fell swoop, I moved from helping her ride elephants in Nepal to injecting her with drugs to combat the sickness of chemotherapy. Such is life involving the ‘real’ world.

Importantly throughout recent times she has remained positive, always putting her best foot forward to get on with life. As such, she is an inspiration for people who think they have a hard life, or have been somehow ‘robbed’ because they cannot have something for nothing.

Meanwhile she thanks the world for the things she enjoys; being ‘lucky’ in so many small ways. In her own words she has done, experienced, and loved so much compared to many people and she knows she has been lucky to ride the world. After all, people can spend a lifetime yearning for the same thing – as I once did – and a million others would be thankful for such an experience.

People say a long road journey can change you in fundamental, irreversible, ways and we know that it does. Things are never quite the same again as superfluous layers of reality are lost somewhere along the way. Somehow, it left us feeling as Bertha’s panniers; carrying so little, but holding everything needed. In many ways, we have become those panniers with the loss of ‘things’, forever replaced with ‘experiences’. The people we once were are gone.

For me, if I had returned still worrying about ‘stuff’ I would have failed to understand something fundamental about life as I watched children play in the dust of India. The same personal failure would have been apparent as we visited schools for the blind in Delhi, and organisations from France to Australia. Talking to people who lost their sight in Nepal because of malnutrition would have passed me by somehow if I still worried about ‘things.’ So you see, at this time of year I believe there are important aspects of life. Then there are ‘things’.

I will leave you with a small extract of writing involving a very simple message for the true meaning of this time of year and for everyday in your life from this point onwards. You see, to me, everything else is just wind:

“If you are sitting reading this tale of two ordinary people just like you then there is something you should always remember and hold dear to you. You never know when it will all end. It can be so sudden and so unexpected that there is no warning, no further time to say the things you have never said to those around you. This second, right now, is your opportunity to put this newsletter down and correct that omission. Take it now. You may never have another chance. Life is like that.”

To all the people who are ‘out there’ on the road on motorcycles we wish you a wonderful world full of experiences, safe roads, and comfortable places to sleep. We offer these simple wishes because they are the only things you truly need. To everybody else who continues to dream of such journeys we wish you every success in achieving it.

A very happy Christmas to you all and our very best for the New Year.

What next?

Watch this space for further details concerning the the future publication of:

A Blind Woman, Two Wheels and 25,000 Miles.

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The Lizard Point


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Ian with his F800 in Pokhara - Nepal


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