Monday, 25 February 2019

The things you learn when you choose to follow "Google"

So, the day’s adventure began, just a normal day in Cambodia, riding Moto’s around the streets of Kep. We were going to meet a man who was going to show us a new campsite being built. He suggested we take the coast road to the property. David put the address into google and decided to follow “google” instead. It said 20 minutes till arrival and so we set off.  It is a “free” feeling riding a moto in Cambodia. There are few rules and so much to see as you ride along. I was enjoying my trip on the open road, not taking much notice of the driving part. The open road was pretty straight forward … just stay on the bitumen. Then, we took a right and headed down a dirt road. My eyes needed to quickly divert to the road, to avoid every pot hole, forced to make choices second by second as to where to place the wheel to navigate each piece of the road. I slowed down considerably and I couldn't enjoy the view as much as my eyes were focussed on the task at hand. Such a different way to drive! 

There’s a life lesson right there. It is so much easier to take the open road, the road well-trodden and marked out, the one everyone takes. It was much more challenging to take the road less travelled, no markings, every turn a challenge and yet for me the drive just got more exciting. Through little villages, the houses and people right there, doing life metres away. Sometimes if felt like I was riding through their lounge room. The smells, the sights, the beauty of everyday life in Cambodia all of sudden got more real.  Some were drying out their meal for the evening in the hot sun, others lying under the house to keep away from the heat, some cooking on a gas fire, others eating their morning noodles. Something you could easily pass by and not notice on the open road.

Avoiding the potholes and choosing the smoother path required more mental energy and physical energy, requiring both hands to be firmly on the handlebars, while maneuvering the bike on the dirt track, with the exception of the occasional one handed wave to those we passed as they yelled out “hello” to us foreigners invading their lounge room. 

 After 30 minutes, we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere, no houses, no signs. The track was getting thinner and less ridden, mud holes getting bigger and before we knew it we were off road, trail riding. YAY!  30 minutes turned to 40 minutes, turned to 60 minutes, turned to 90 minutes.  Each time we took a new road, it ended with either a washed out, unpassable road, a creek, a fence, or a big mud hole. “Google” didn't know where it was going. We could see the campsite (across the river), it was 5 minutes away if we walked and swam across a creek, but we just couldn't get there. My feet were covered in mud, not to mention my bike. At one point I missed the small path and landed in the mud and fell off, ripped my pants and then took 5 minutes get out of the mud hole. It was all part of the fun and challenge. Needless to say we had to turn back, retrace our path back to the road and take the Coast road, as our friend had originally suggested. “Google” was still unhelpful and we had to ring our friend a couple of times to get his directions to eventually find the correct way to the property. 

Now, where do I go from here? So many life lessons! I can see my kids rolling their eyes.  So many things were running through my mind as we drove the coast road to the campsite. I pondered … who are we going to listen to in this world?  “Google”? (the one the world trusts, the one we always refer to whenever we need to know something) OR a friend, the one that takes the drive each day to his place of work, the one who has gone there before and knows that while all those tracks “google” took us down are tracks that can get you there some parts of the year, but it didn't know that they were not passable today?  This was a reminder that there are many roads we can take, and while they lead to adventure, they also could lead to trouble, to being lost, to getting hurt. 

Or do I ponder … that taking the less ridden track brings adventure, which is fine, as long as we know who to call when we run into roadblocks and when we get into trouble. When we are on the open road there are many people who can help when we get stuck. Every corner is a place to get petrol, a place to get our moto fixed, a place to get water if we’re thirsty. Out in the middle of nowhere, as we sat at a creek blocking our way to the campsite, we could ring our friend and he was able to let us know how to get back on track while “google” still continued to tell us to go forward. 

Do I wish we took the coast road to begin with?  Hmmm … and miss the adventure, the story? No, probably not. That’s the challenge isn't it? If we went the coast road I wouldn't have the battle scars on my leg to show people and tell the story. It’s in the experience that we learn. But if it wasn’t for our friend, we wouldn't have made it to a beautiful campsite, and we did we have to go the wrong road to more appreciate the right one? So much to consider, to reflect on? 

Matthew 7:13-14 says to enter through narrow Gate. “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only few find it”.  The metaphor talks of having fewer choices on the narrow road and too many ways to get distracted on the broad road leading to destruction. And yet for me, I felt like I had more choices on the narrow road, or did I?  On the open road, I didn't think, I just rode, all my choices were made for me. I just blindly followed the signs. There were more choices, and more options for sure, but I wasn’t even aware of them. On the narrow road, my choices suddenly became real for me, each choice really made a difference to the ride. I engaged my thoughts, my body, my heart more as I navigated the track, the sights, the smells. I was more aware of my choices. It led to life and adventure and it meant I had to rely on someone else to help us each step of the way to get through.  The focus became clearer and I was so thankful that I was with my life partner (my husband) the whole time. This was not a track you’d want to venture on alone. I knew if we were together we could face any challenge and we would get there eventually. For the narrow track leads to life and, I agree, few find it, as the wider track is safe and clear and easy to follow. 

For me this day, while the destination was lovely, the journey was not to be missed. I suppose it was such a great adventure because the narrow track was where life was best seen and experienced. The narrow dirt tracks of the villages in Kep are always filled with fascinating sights. But also the journey confirmed to me that it is the way I want to live … exploring the narrow tracks in life that few go down rather than the open wide road that everyone travels at a fast pace and so much is missed.  And finally, the journey is always better when you are with people you trust and when you know who to call when the going gets tough. 

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important thanthe outcome.” 
– Arthur Ashe. 

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