Everybody has his own fear, maybe height, speed, poverty, death…It is absolutely normal to have some fears in our lives so that we could be humble ourselves. The process of overcoming your fear is indeed a growing path. You will be amazed of how much you improve throughout the journey you put effort to fight against what you are fear of.
I am still working on my fear of water, as well as handling big machines. In the coming years, I must learn how to drive a car and that would be a breakthrough. As for water, I know how to swim but once I couldn’t touch the ground, I am scared of drowning. That is totally mind over matters! Maybe somebody can give me any advice to work on that!
Some people are scared of loneliness. I met 2 Russian cyclists on the way from Turku to Mariehamn, Aland. They are at their 40s and are just friends. The white hair lady speaks a bit English but the bold man only speaks Russian and he has some mental problem I suppose. On the ferry, the man was seriously drunk, he couldn’t even stand up nor walk straight. The lady suddenly approached me and asked if she could cycle and camp with me that night as she didn’t want to deal with her drunk friend. I didn’t understand how could she just leave him on the road, she kept saying she was frustrated… I was a bit skeptical of being trapped into a scam, but after chatting with the lady along the way, she was quite innocent and this is her first cross-country biking trip. She didn’t carry any water nor food (only a packet of juice, seriously?). I offered to cook her some food once we arrive and I promise to try to squeeze her into my tent, she immediately express a glimpse of hope and joy in her eyes!
She was surprised that I always travel alone, and wondered if I feel insecure or lonely. Well, yes but it was only in the beginning, now I already get used to such traveling mode that I enjoy it. It is not only the freedom of doing what I want, but also a unique chance to talk to myself, learn about myself and so far it is a good challenge for me!
The old lady then replied, ‘I feel like a baby and I am so scared of being left alone in the wilderness. That’s why I asked for your help.’ I can feel her frustration and helplessness. Thanks God that I am able to help her.
We arrived at around midnight, I started cooking and setting up my tent. Listening to her story, she is unmarried, cycles everyday in Moscow but first time leaving her country. Her companion is just an old friend who is alcoholic and stubborn. It was better to leave him alone when he was drunk. Anyway, that night I was literally hosting her in my tent, which is a nice!
Couchsurfing spirit. I surf people’s places along my journey and I host homeless people in my tent, how awesome is that! To receive and to give, with no price tag involved, just simply a caring action!
The next morning she asked me to help her finding a ferry back to Russia, but obviously in Aland there is no direct ferries heading there, she has to change in Helsinki. She wanted to go at the same night but I was a bit burst out saying that why didn’t she enjoy this amazing island for a few days? She said she had no money and she just wanted to go home, to a place where she feels secure. I told her if she couldn’t step out of her comfort zone, she could never see the beauty side of the world, but only lives in her small home and community. It was hard for me too, when I was in the Philippines, I struggled, I cried, I complained a lot, however I wrote down all my feeling and thoughts, it really helped me to overcome my fear and evolved into a more independent person! Hopefully she would understand it one day.
The story continued, when she almost bought the ticket, I asked if she would go back with her friend. That was the time she started worrying about him! Unbelievable…if I didn’t mention him, I supposed she would just forget about this man and go back home by herself! I suggested to go to police station and look for him. How amazing that the police told us last night they got a complaint from some residents in Langnas that a drunk Russian man was sleeping on the road. They brought him to the Russian embassy but it was closed, so he was left outside. We went to Russian embassy to see if he was there, the consulate said he didn’t receive any drunk man. So we went back to police station, and we can just wait. I have no choice but to leave the lady waiting there alone, as I still got something to do. I already did my best to help her, as her English sucks and so do her sense of direction. Really hope she could find her friend, Aland is not big, it should be fine!
It was a good experience for me and her, as she realised what she is scared of and she gotta work on that before she starts traveling again. For me, it is about trusting each other in our journey, sharing and learning from each other. And it made me think about my water phobia. If I really want to go for a sea journey later on to cross the Atlantic, I must overcome my fear of not touching the ground in the middle of the sea!
Don’t hide our fears, but make yourself expose to them and tackle them one by one! That is how we grow!