An Ode to Road Rash

Road Rash

Had an argument with the road… and the road won

I’ll keep this brief because I’m trying to keep the blood off my keyboard…

There’s an unwritten rule of the road in Asia: give way to anything bigger than you. It’s the compliment to the principal maxim ‘why go around it if you can go over it’? Lane markings are purely decorative. Trucks break for nobody. And I think I could count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a turn signal put to use.

So as a motorcyclist you quickly learn to stay well away from anything with more than two wheels. That usually means riding on the shoulder of the road (which is actually the convention for motorcycles).

This isn’t a dig at the state of driver education in Thailand (that post is here). No one else was involved in my little accident (thankfully). I just mention it because that’s where I was where this little episode went down.

I’ve been bilking for some time now (like about a year), but most of that experience has been on the same, familiar roads in the immediate vicinity of my home. I figure if I’m going to ride across Asia I’d better start to venture a little further afield and get some experience navigating in less familiar territory.

Well, lucky I did. Because I’m learning already—the hard way (which is also the only way). And I’ve packaged my learning up into a neat little formula for The Journal of Rookie Motorcycling Mistakes:

shoulder + bend + lean + gravel = pain

Mucho daño.

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Open Up & Let the Light Back In

It's not too late for your dreams to come true.

It's never too late

At that moment, my desire to accept and love myself just as I am came to full fruition.  Not only am I good enough, I am magnificent.
Laurie Sutton

Today I’m thrilled (and more than a little proud) to introduce the first ever guest post at The Art of Audacity by my friend and fellow fear-smasher, Laurie Sutton.

Over the last six months, I’ve watched Laurie create some truly remarkable changes in her life. She’s let go of the insecurities that were holding her back, quit her job of 13 years and is now building her own (profitable) art-business full-time. She’s creating her life on purpose; and she’s a shining example of what’s possible when you really decide that you’re going to allow what you want into your life.

Be sure to check out her new blog at Water’s Edge Creative—and especially her gallery of stunning, hand-crafted jewelry.

This is her inspiring story…

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Around The World, Low and Slow: An Interview with Wes Nations

Water Fight during the Songkran Festival, Thailand

Songkran Water Festival, Thailand

Eventually I had to admit to myself that I would never truly be happy if I didn’t at least try my best to make it happen—I had to take a stab at it. It wasn’t an epiphany, just an honest realization that if you’re not living you’re dying. Wes Nations

I’m not an avid reader of travel blogs. But for Wes Nations, I’m happy to make an exception. In 2010, Wes left his job to realize a life-long dream: a year of round-the-world, over-land travel.

The chronicle of this adventure—JohnnyVagabond.com—is one of the finest and most entertaining travel blogs you’re likely to find. His photography is masterful. His stories are funny, gripping and skillfully told. Plus he offers plenty of no-nonsense, practical advice and how-to for the aspiring round-the-world adventurer.

On top of which—and my real motivation for this interview—Wes has lived out one of my personal dreams: to ride a motorcycle across Vietnam.

How could I resist getting the low-down?

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Are You Owning Your Desire?

Rock the Mic

Owning It

If you’re like most everybody else on the planet, there’s a gap between who you know yourself to be inside, and who you’re allowing yourself to be in the world. Between who you really are and how you’re showing up.

What you know is that you’re passionate. You’re deep. You’re curious. You’re powerful. And you want more.

What you’re expressing often falls far short of the mark.

At the heart of the gap is a fear. It’s the fear of vulnerability. The fear to be open and engaged and real. You feel the potential, the impulse, the call. You feel the desire to be more than you’re currently being—but you’re hiding from it. You’re repressing it. Because acknowledging it feels scary and challenging. It feel like too much of a leap.

Who are you to have such ambition? Who are you to reach so high?

You think you’re not worthy. That you’re playing out of your league. You’re afraid of criticism or rejection. Afraid to be thought naive. Afraid you’ll look foolish when you inevitably fail.

The fear keeps you from fully inhabiting your truth. From living it, and from expressing it.

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Licensed to Thrill: How to Take Asia by Storm on Two Wheels in Seven Not-So-Easy Steps

Family on Motorbike

They see me rollin'

The Thai Transit Authority is the official body in Thailand vested with upholding the high standards of driver testing and certification that we’ve come to expect from Asian nations. Don’t be complacent. A foreign passport is no call for special treatment. You’ll be expected to demonstrate the same standards of motoring excellence that are typical here. The grace and precision displayed by everyday taxi drivers, bus drivers and common Bangkok motorists is the same vision of highly adept, skillful and orderly driving which is taken for granted in the Land of Smiles. Your testing instructors will expect no less from you.

But don’t worry if you’re a bit rusty. With a little preparation, a steely resolve, and a dash of chok-dee (good luck) you’ll be negotiating the fray in no time. This post will guide you through the challenges you’ll face as you prepare to acquire your Thai driver’s license as quickly as possible (read: not very quickly at all).

Note: if you already have a car / motorcycle license in your home country, just pick up an international driving permit before you leave and save yourself the rigmarole. For everybody else, onward!

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Four Things You Need To Know to Live an Original Life

Base Jumping

Trust Yourself

We but half express ourselves, and are ashamed of that divine idea which each of us represents.

Self Reliance—sounds like some kind of course in wilderness survival where you skin your own rabbits and chop your own firewood. And if you’re reading this blog post somewhere on the prairie in 1841, perhaps that’s an appropriate interpretation (assuming they have rabbits on the prairie—I’m a little out of touch).

But in all likelihood that’s not where you are. You’re probably reading this from your home office, or corporate cubical, or iPhone. You’ve probably never killed a rabbit and think kindling is something you do curled up in bed with a hot beverage and a Tim Tam.

So much for romantic notions of a life of simple freedom. Does your involvement with modern civilization, with all this technological insulation mean you’re doomed to go through life as a servant? Do we bargain away our independence—our basic human freedoms—when we participate in society?

Well, no, actually. At least, it doesn’t have to be that way. The good news is, self reliance actually has nothing to do with either rabbits or firewood. It’s not the exclusive domain of recluse philosophers and the amish. It’s available to all (actually that’s exactly the point)—Yes dear reader, even you can become self reliant. And, you don’t even have to give up your iPhone.

(By the way if you are reading this on the prairie in 1841, please leave a comment about the rabbit situation).

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How to Find Out What You’re Made Of: an Interview with Celine Novenario

Life at 15,000 Feet

I was the person guiltiest of selling myself short and I had myself boxed in to be a certain way before this whole project began. I was surprised to find out that I’ve got endurance, balls of steel and that I quite like getting dirty!
Celine Novenario

So, here’s the deal: If you’re living your best possible life you’re going to be challenging yourself on a pretty regular basis. And if you’re challenging yourself at any significant level you’re going to run into quite a few things that quite frankly will freak you out just a bit.

One of the things that’s pretty high on my freak-out list is hurling myself off a three foot wide platform at the top of the 233 meters-tall Macau Tower. It’s how I’ll be marking the commencement of my epic tour of Asia by motorcycle.

One of the best ways of mastering a freak-out experience? Talk to somebody who’s already done it.

Enter Celine Novenario of the 30 Before 30 Project: globetrotting, fear crushing party animal extraordinaire.

Not only has Celine braved the worlds highest bungee jump, she’s also skydived from 15,000 feet, bathed in the basin of an active volcano, taken burlesque and pole-dancing classes, swam with wale sharks, run a marathon, explored mayan ruins and generally crammed as many thrills, chills and as spills into her life as possible. And all before turning 30.

Let’s find out what makes her tick.

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It All Changes In An Instant (or Why I’m Riding a Motorcycle Across Asia)

Proposed route

5000 miles to Mumbai

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

When I wrote down the goal “ride a motorcycle across Asia”, I really had no idea what that meant. I had no conception of how far it would be, what it would involve or even why exactly I wanted to do it in the first place. I had my inspirations: a long-ago reading of Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, The Top Gear: Vietnam special, and a reference Tim Ferriss made to riding a bike across China like it was no big deal. A nice fantasy, but not much more.

The most appealing thing about it was that it was completely outside of my current intellectual schema. The kind of thing I would never have seriously contemplated if not for my policy of being deliberately ridiculous. Which is exactly what makes it such an excellent goal.

Another quality of excellent goals is that they are rooted in emotions and passions. Important because they not only fuel the goal, they give it meaning. In this case, it was all about freedom. I just loved the idea of exploring exotic, unknown landscapes with wind in my hair. No cares, no responsibilities, no deadlines. Just the bike and the open road.

But though I had declared it as something I intended to do, there was still an air of unreality about it. It wasn’t a right now goal, it was a someday goal. Something to work towards. Something that would seem more feasible at some nonspecific, future date after I had already worked it all out. Something I could do once I was already “free”. I wanted to play around with the safer goals first. Goals that seemed more accessible.

But something very interesting happens when you start to take deliberate steps in the direction of your calling: things that used to seem ridiculous and impossible, suddenly become a lot more realistic. And things that used to intimidate you begin to look like the next natural step. And when you begin to draw an outline around a big, nebulous, impossible thing, suddenly it’s no longer nebulous or impossible. With a little bit of imagination it might actually be doable.

All you need then, is a kick in the pants.

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Appreciation Nation 1: The Year of Living Biblically Edition

My Twitter Wordle

What does your tweet cloud say about you?

You know something?

Life is amazing and people are awesome.

I think it’s too easy to forget those simple facts.

And since I had an especially awesome week, I thought I’d make an extra special effort to show appreciation for the folks who helped make it so worth getting up for.

I was listening to a fascinating interview with AJ Jacobs the other day (thanks to Matthew Kimberly for turning me on to The New Man podcast). If the name rings a bell, you might recall his article on Outsourcing Your Life which Tim Ferriss reprinted in The Four Hour Workweek). It’s a fascinating (and rather hilarious) experiment in outsourcing amped up to absurdity. And that’s only one of many extreme lifestyle experiments that AJ has performed in the same of science (or is that frivolity?)

In one especially bizarre experiment, AJ is spent an entire year living and obeying the rules of the Christian Bible to the letter.

You can get the summarized version in the below TED talk (it’s good).

Long story short, this is a rather impractical thing to do. But one positive thing that did come out of the experience (which AJ Explains in the New Man interview) is the daily practice of gratitude—taking the time to give thanks for things you might otherwise take for granted.

I figured I’d apply that concept to blogging. So starting today I’m challenging myself to be more conscious about:

  1. what I’m doing each day to create an ever more exciting, fulfilling life
  2. what already awesome right here and now

Let’s begin, shall we…

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How to Change Your Entire Life Overnight

When I'm sad I stop being sad and be AWESOME instead.

Booyah

On Friday I published a pretty personal post about my biggest failures in life. It was a response to Emilie Wapnick’s Failure Celebration Week initiative.

The idea is to celebrate failure rather than shaming it, or simply reframing it as ‘feedback’, which too often feels like a halfhearted attempt at consolation. It may help to ease the disappointment but doesn’t necessarily encourage us to get back on the horse and eagerly go charging at the next impossible challenge.

I didn’t realise until later that I really glossed over that point in the original post; and, judging by the responses—this came over as a bit of a sob story. Not sure if it inspired courage so much as condolences. Not what I intended at all.

The point—the one I didn’t make the first time—is that failure (or anything else really) is a function of your focus on life. When you cherry pick the worst possible aspect of everything, pile it all together, highlight the low points, and put it under a microscope it comes off seeming like a pretty dismal situation. And no wonder.

Yet don’t we all do that to ourselves sometimes? When you’re stuck in depressing thoughts it’s difficult to see anything but. When you label yourself as a failure—you feel like one. It doesn’t matter what successes you’ve had or how much you’ve grown. You’re not acknowledging those things. You’re just looking at the low points. And that’s a distorted view of reality.

For every valley, there’s a peak.

Allow me to demonstrate…

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