Here’s a more personal post; not so much about my travels, more about thoughts, motivations and what I’m looking for. I will mention 3 pieces of media that I have come across recently, which for me were really valuable and incredibly interesting. If you have time check out the movies, and read the book!
First up, it’s incredibly easy because this is a pleasure to watch. Chasing Ice (Movie – 2012) is an absolute work of art that deserves watching by everyone. Stunning photography, videography, perseverance and the story underneath is undeniable. Simply beautiful, have a look!
Secondly, I am going to recommend a book that I think is absolutely incredible (although a little dry to begin with). It puts into words a lot of what I have been thinking, what I have been looking for. Things that I have had a vague sense of, but couldn’t pin down or conjure into logical thought. A feeling that something was not quite right, but I couldn’t put into words. It is incredibly thought inspiring and is a reason to reconsider the very system that we base almost everything on.
The Value of Nothing – Raj Patel
Before I get into this, I need to discuss one thing, maybe you are even thinking it now (I know I always am…) How can a guy on an endless holiday, cruising around be serious about environmental stuff? It’s a hard question, but the fact is what I am doing now, I have a smaller footprint than I did when working, consuming, living for the weekend or taking a big trip in my few weeks of annual leave. I can also console myself that I have begun a search for less. Less consumption, less money, a smaller footprint – and its hard! It’s hard to limit yourself, especially when you can afford more, and the world you grew up in goes against this entirely, that is not what we were raised to pursue. But you don’t get anywhere without taking the first step, then the second…. I am trying.
The ‘real’ world beckons. Maybe I should be doing more? I have an education, am I wasting it? Should i go and be a part of the ‘real’ world, get a ‘real’ job and do something ‘useful’? No, i think what I am doing now is as useful as anything I could be doing in the ‘real’ world.
Maybe I should go and live somewhere, lead a minimalist, zero footprint lifestyle? Grow my own veggies and harvest my own power? No, not yet. In some ways I feel like that would be a cop out, it would be too easy.
Nope, I can’t do those things, not yet anyway. What am I left with?
I am left with this journey. I don’t know where it will go, all I can do is try and learn as much as I can from it.
From most of my blog posts, it would seem that all i’m doing is having a bloody good time on holiday, kayaking stunning rivers, meeting great people and seeing incredible places. Well, yes. That is a fair assessment of the situation…. But if we dig a bit deeper, I think there is more to the story. There’s the obvious pursuit of the Paddling with Purpose project; some would argue it is just an excuse to hang out in beautiful places and meet cool people. Well yes, I will admit it is exactly that ( that’s the point of co-benefits people!); however I sincerely hope it will culminate in more, creating opportunities for communities and individuals to see the world in a different way and realise their own ability to influence and change its direction.
What more? Is there any more?
I think so.
I am looking, I am learning, I am searching.
Looking for somewhere I can fit in, make a difference in a way I view as valuable, making contacts and sharing ideas with others. Gaining new perspectives.
It’s not lost on me that with a tiny budget which we could have blown through in a couple of hours last year building roads, I feel like I can do a lot more through this project.
But what am I really looking for?
To get perspective on this part, I hope you might find the time to watch this documentary:
Open Pit – Download free, or watch here.
I am not ashamed to say that I actually shed a tear watching this, seeing the people’s struggle (maybe it was because I am so close to these people and these stunning places now, maybe it was the altitude or just something I ate that day…) I think probably it is because this story is not even remotely unique, it is not the exception; it is the norm. This kind of exploitation and destruction is happening in thousands of other places in the world, this is not even nearly the worst.
What is the driver of it all? It is first world demands, it is what we want, it is what we are ‘paying’ for in every cheap good that we buy.
Every product we buy has a cost, but the cost we are paying is too cheap, there is more to it which we are ignoring, almost always it is the poor that pay the rest of that cost. People in other places, other worlds bearing the brunt of the environmental and social costs of our lifestyles.
So what am I looking for?
I want a different way to live, I don’t want to be a part of the society that creates these problems, that treats people or simply buries its head in the sand in this way. WE (the first world) are doing this, we are letting it happen; it is undeniable. Only by admitting the true cost, taking responsibility and demanding a reduction in these costs can it stop. I don’t accept it. Yes, I am still apart of the problem, I am still part of this society; it’s incredibly hard to get away from. At least my intention is clear
and I will take whatever opportunities I can in that direction.Yes, we might have to pay more. Yes, we might not be able to afford some of the lifestyles that we lead; but I would prefer to go without than have someone else paying the rest of my discounted price.
Everything we do in the world, every business, every action is completed with a set of constraints. We are incredibly smart, skilful and adaptable creatures. I have no doubt that if we create a new set of constraints to work within, we will succeed.
The average person is not to blame; no-one is to blame really – we are all subjects of the world we grew up in. However, we have a choice in what we demand, in our intention, and where we go from here. It is a choice. By not acting, you have made your choice, a choice to ignore the real costs inflicted on other people, on the rest of the world. Sure, there’s no clear-cut solution, we will probably make mistakes along the way, but we sure aren’t going to get there if we don’t even start trying (or worse, start going backwards).
So where is my journey going?
Feeling pretty good at the moment. Without a car, my footprint is drastically reduced. When I do need to go somewhere it is usually on a bus, so my footprint is minimal. I am looking forward to the day when I find some people keen to cycle everywhere, towing little kayak trailers behind… With week long and month long river journeys, I am sure I will emerge with new ideas, new perspectives and the knowledge needed to really make this project happen. It’s a little scary to think that in the next few months it will be complete…What am I going to do next?
After finishing Rio Maranon, I hope to see some of Peru’s social and environmental issues first hand. An environmental tour of Peru. In the Cajamarca region I hope to get in contact with, learn from and offer support to those involved in the Conga Conflict. Issues originating from 1st world corporate irresponsibility, drastically affecting local populations causing social and environmental issues, resulting in numerous human rights issues. Maybe I can offer some kind of help, or maybe I can just learn from these people. It would also be incredible to get in touch with Ruth Buendia and the organisation CARE which is protecting indigenous populations of the Rio Ene. I find it little bit incredible to think that soon I will be in touch with these inspirational people, these issues are no longer far away and ignorable – I will be there in just over a month.