A few months ago as I was cruising down a river and living a very slow but pleasant life, I picked up Dave Cornthwaite’s book, ‘Life in the Slow Lane: A Patient Quest for Adventure.’ Dave has some awesome projects going on and many of them revolve around his big goal, Expedition 1000. Expedition 1000 is a series of 1,000+ mile journeys that Dave wishes to undertake using non-motorised means. I am hugely impressed with every journey that he has done, but it was his swim 1000 that really got me excited and how I first heard of him. My words cannot explain, so please watch this video then I will continue. I think it will help you to understand.
This journey was a huge physical and personal achievement. Would you ever attempt such a thing? It doesn’t matter because that has no affect upon him, his journey, or his incredible achievements. He did it and he can always say to himself, ‘I did that.’
Pretty much, whenever I decide to do something even slightly unconventional, I am advised not to by most people: my favourite people say, ‘Jump.’ Everyone else says don’t do that because / I wouldn’t do it / if you do that, this will happen… I no longer ask for advice.
What I have found of people more and more, is that they feel obliged to express their opinion… Here I am expressing my opinion to you! However, as more people read this little site, I get more feedback. Most of it is positive and I appreciate that, but I am now intrigued by the people who go out of their way to tell me how very wrong I am and how I should be living my life in a different way. My way is not correct, it is simple the way I choose to live my life. My favourite line (amongst many good ones) from Dave’s book was this,
The only lesson I learned from skateboarding four and a half thousand miles was that human beings can only offer an opinion based based on what they would do.
In short, whenever you ask anyone for advice about what you should do, they will only tell you what they would do. Would most have my friends advise me to cycle across Europe on an old bicycle, sleeping outside, not washing for days, and salvaging waste food? No, because they wouldn’t have wanted to do it. But I did (with two friends who were wonderfully crazy enough to want to do it with me) and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
When I have a big decision to make, I will listen to the advice of others, but listen knowing this: only you can advise you. I will ask myself what I should do, not what others want me to do. This helps free my mind from regret.
Would I go to space? No, I’m afraid of being in a spaceship. However, I can appreciate how someone else might not be and that going to space is a wonderful achievement. For this reason, I should not offer advice on such a subject. I watched Felix Baumgartner’s balloon jump from space with baited breath, amazed and enthralled by it. Envious (a positive form of jealousy), because if I was to have been offered the opportunity, I know that I would have turned it down.
Should we seek advice or listen to our own hearts? If I tell you what I think, am I being hypocritical because I am telling you to do something, even if that something is doing what you want to do? Or is that just a ridiculous philosophical argument?
Advise yourself, you are the best person to trust.
Note: the featured image for this post is copyright of the British Crown and is taken from an Afghanistan Travel Advice document. It does not imply that I have any intention of going to Afghanistan, nor is it a criticism of a very important advisory service offered by the British Government. But think about this, people live their every day, millions of them. Many of them get along just fine (recent atrocities and the many who are suffering is a debate for a different day).