We made it!

We made it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

7 weeks to go……

So here we are Bec and I starting to realise that we are really going to walk across India. In many ways it has been a bit of a dream, something we always knew we were going to do but the reality of what we were signing up to was far enough away not to play on our minds too much. We have had the inevitable ‘oh crap’ moments when one of us says to the other – are we insane? But other than that we have been pretty solid, or at least Bec has. She is after all the rock and she keeps me looking up and ahead. So 7 weeks out where are we at?

We have a draft route planned, we have a few bits of accommodation booked, we have organised our shoes and our packs (with a great hit to our family budget), we have our flights booked and we have our fundraising organised. We do not yet have our final trip budget finalised, our car & driver support vehicle organised, much of our accommodation has not been finalised and our clothing has not been organised. I am somewhat overweight and perhaps not quite in the physical condition I would have liked to be at this point in time. My hips, knees and ankles are screaming out for a break regularly and I just hope that all joints will remain intact for the walk. Bec reminds me that after 6 weeks walking across India I might get down to my ‘fighting weight’. Bec looks great ofcourse getting around in her new training pants and looks a million bucks. Indy is super fit and training for some type of sport every day and Mags and Gus are opting in and out of physical preparations depending on their moods and what is on the television! My walking partner ‘Big Nick’ has been regularly practicing his long walks and has his new shoes for the trip. My sister Kate has lost 12 kgs in preparation and both have their personal trainers whipping them into condition. Mum has had her partial knee replacement and racing against the clock to build in enough condition for her to participate to her potential on the walk, there is plenty happening.

This walk is a major undertaking for all involved, hence the term we have used for our walk the Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Many of the challenges involve the preparation and planning. In many ways the walk will be the icing on the cake. Leading up to the walk we have committed to raise at least $30,000AUD, speak at as many functions as we can to share the story with others, support the walk team to get organised and work in partnership with ChildFund ensuring each of us meets the others’ expectations. The walk is and has been for some time a daily activity for us and each day there are numerous things for us to talk about, plan and do. Whilst doing this ofcourse we continue to raise three kids, run our own business, continue to support other charitable projects we are running at the same time, Bec work as a nurse part time and all the usual activities involved in life and families.

One of the major events leading up to the walk is a leadership seminar our company is running as our major fundraiser. These events are always a huge challenge for my confidence. That voice in my head that tells me I am crazy, no one will come, you should cancel it and save face, don’t do it. Then when people say no, don’t return my calls, tell me they’re sorry but they’re not interested, that voice starts laughing and says I told you so, I want to climb into a hole and not come out. Then when all seems lost a spark of light, an unexpected show of support, an email from an old client who says they’re coming, a good friend saying they wouldn’t miss it, and little by little the show comes together. To think that we can put on an event that brings together 60-80 people, with 12 incredibly talented guest speakers sharing the stories of their inspiration as a major fundraiser, I am just in awe of the support people show. This will be a very emotional day for us because this is what this walk is all about, bringing people together to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable kids. For us to understand the support that is there for us, the commitment from others to want to be involved, to share in the experience and wish us well. This is the fuel we will need to go and complete this epic adventure.

It is very hard to explain but India (the country) is good for my soul. Having just returned from a couple of weeks there I have to say it reminded me of why I need to spend time there or places like it frequently. It reminds me of what’s really important – not the house, the cars, the lifestyle we have back home but the connection with people, with kids and the sense of being able to use our life to genuinely serve and make a difference in the lives of others. The ability to have an incredible sensory experience and just be and feel a thousand miles away from the many, many trivial things that occupy my time and efforts in the real world.

So to the walk. This walk for me is about a ‘back to basics’ trip to India. One bag, basic clothing, basic food and a journey for the soul. No masks (the ones we all wear when with others), no titles, no status, just walking. Not a holiday, not about a tourist destination, not about how we look, what we wear, not about where we are staying or even what we will be visiting, just about a chunk of time with people I care about walking in the experience that is the Indian countryside. To be lost in our ‘service to others’ and the difference we can make when we dedicate our lives to those less fortunate. I have learnt in my life that to replace my ‘ego’ with my ‘authentic self’ involves the purity of giving to others, living a life of service, this is the answer to happiness, I am quite sure. To as Gandhi said, look in the eyes of the most vulnerable person you can find and ask yourself ‘what is it that I am doing today that is making life better for this person’, we can do this.

I know people have questioned me about why I haven’t been more diligent with hotel bookings and other important details for the trip. I have resisted all of this because this is very much about landing on the west coast of India, looking east and starting to walk. All of the details such as what we will eat, where we will stay and how far we will get we will deal with each day. That is part of the adventure, remaining open to what will be, or not be, it is all there to experience. I guess for a 25 year old backpacker this is just another overseas trip but when you do this with five kids, you parents and a couple of colleagues it becomes somewhat more of an adventure.

Originally this trip was going to be a solo expedition and as the days ensued and I started to share my plan with my family it became clear that this was much more than one man’s journey. That also means that the dynamic of the journey is also very different. Multiple expectations, personalities, needs, interests and opinions. We all know of the best parts of our selves and the worst and India will bring all of them out for all to see and to share.

One of the things I encourage our team to do is to have a few quiet moments to close their eyes and meditate on the vision they have for themselves for this trip. ‘To imagine yourself walking in the Indian countryside with a group of young kids walking along, as you just walk along taking everything in, sitting around at the end of the day sharing our stories of what we have seen and experienced, having some time to yourself just to contemplate the meaning of your life, To take a moment to be really proud of yourself for being so authentic and living in absolute alignment with your values and being a good person, to be inspired by the people we meet and all that they are doing for vulnerable kids in India, to sit together in Chennai and reflect on the amazing adventure we have all had’. Start little by little to meditate on your vision, put your energy here and then let’s go and make it happen. This is all part of setting the vision for our trip.

There is a reason that we have each committed to this trip, it may not be clear just yet what exactly that reason is but I am sure it will become clear. I know for each of us our lives are at a cross roads, not necessarily a bad thing. Which path each of us will take is not yet determined and I see for each of us our trip to India provides an opportunity to reflect deeply on our life to date and our dreams for the future. We hope to share our journey, our reflections and our plans with you as we travel.

To experience this adventure as a family, what an amazing thing we are all doing together. Is it going to be difficult? You bet. Will we have moments of absolute despair? You bet we will. Will we make it? Absolutely. The reality is that the road less travelled is difficult, it is uncomfortable and challenging. I want to encourage all of us to not shy away from the discomfort but to ‘lean into the discomfort’ for the answers lie within. How will each of us show up and how will we contribute to making this an epic adventure for our family? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and 6 weeks after we commence we will all have the opportunity to return to all that is normal, comfortable and routine. To return to our lives, our jobs, our security, our everyday worries, our activities and our comforts. In India it is an opportunity to live a life less ordinary, to create a wealth of memories and experiences for us to share for the rest of our lives.

Finally I just want to say thankyou to my family, they are truly my inspiration, the source of my strength and confidence and they have all been integral in me having the confidence to follow the road less travelled. I know they will be there to support me to face the many challenges that lie ahead for me in my life and I commit the same to each of them.

I love them all very much.

7 weeks to go………..

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