I have a good friend named Becky Irish. She, her husband, and husky live in Bend, OR during the winter months, and drive the tour buses for the US National Park Service in Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska during the summer months. That in and of itself is quite the fun and exciting life, but this winter she took a special trip.
Twenty years ago, Becky’s Geography professor gave a presentation on the Trans-Siberian Railway, a trip he had taken himself. The railway connectsMoscow to Vladivostok in the far east. It is 5,772 miles in length and the longest railway line in the world. For whatever reason, she was so fascinated by his experience that she had carried the desire to travel the Railway herself for all this time.
In February she did exactly that. She spent one month traveling alone, into the depths of Russia (in the winter) to undertake the experience. Becky has previously lived in Alaska for many winters, so is fully aware of what those cold and bitter temperatures feel like. But again, she decided to take this trip on her own. I was so proud of and inspired that I sat down to interview her about her journey over breakfast.
I started by asking her how she got from the desire to take the trip to actually doing it. She said she just kept talking about it for years and years. Though many people rolled their eyes at her, telling her it was a crazy idea, she kept talking anyway. The more she talked about it, the more empowered she felt. Eventually she said she got tired of hearing herself talk about it, not act on it, and decided to just do it.
I asked her about any fear she had before the trip as well as fear while there. She said that beforehand her fears were around the logistics of getting around, getting lost, missing a train, being alone on the trip, not knowing how she would manage when so little English was spoken, and what might happen if she got injured. Becky said she had to let that fear go because she knew that people in general were good, and if something did happen, she would be taken care of.
And as fate would have it, one night she did get hurt. While returning from the bathroom to her bed in the hostel she was staying, she ran into a couch, tripped, fell, and heard a pop in her shoulder. She then felt intense pain. Becky said she wanted to cry but she couldn’t because she had to keep her wits about her and focus on her arm, trying to decide if it needed immediate medical attention or not. She decided it wasn’t dislocated and wasn’t broken.
As luck would have it, after having several days of really cold weather, the day after her fall was much warmer. It was the best thing that could have happened because she couldn’t use her arm to put layers of clothing on so the warmer temperatures helped tremendously. Over the next several days when she did have less use of her arm she called a cab to help her get from one place to another so she wouldn’t have to carry her bag. Her train mate also helped her make her bed one evening and put a blanket over her like a caring mother would. Her thought before the trip, “people are good” showed up in many many ways with several travelers helping her after injuring her arm.
I asked about her most interesting or fascinating experience. She said it was the day in Helsinki, Finland on the way to catch the Siberian Railway when she met a Dutch woman on the ferry. They took a picture of each other, hit it off and connected right away. They got along so well they decided to spend the day together touring downtown Helsinki. As they were out and about in downtown they met another guy from India and hit it off with him. He joined their duo, becoming a trio and had a fantastic dinner together. They talked about politics, traveling, etc… That shared experience of connecting with those two strangers stuck with her the entire trip.
I asked if she’d do anything different if she did this again, and she said not really. She had so much planned ahead of time because she didn’t want to spend the entire time there with her face in a guidebook. She did her leg work previously so she could enjoy the time there. She said that this left less time for spontaneity overall but in general she was glad she did it the way she did.
I asked what her biggest insight was from her trip. Her response, if you want to do something, just do it. Act on it, go for it, put away those excuses. You just do not know if something might happen tomorrow or next week and you can’t. If you’ve got your health just go.
People everywhere are just like you, they really have the same desires and aren’t that different. People can still communicate even when English isn’t spoken. A lot of non-verbal communication takes place and people get it. And I want to break boundaries, stereotypes, and be a role model for women out there. I want to break down barriers and open doors to traveling on your own. The more of us that do it, the more easy it will be for future generations.
As she was sharing her tale with me I came away with three take-aways myself. It’s okay to have fear. But if you really desire doing something you’ve got to either let it go, or know it’s going to be there and do what you want anyway. She already said she knew people were good and that belief was shown to her repeatedly throughout her trip. What you believe on a core level will always show up in your life. Although she said it was pure luck that the weather warmed the day after she hurt her shoulder, I have no doubt the universe was helping her out in her time of need.
Maybe you have a desire or dream. One that’s just come up or one you’ve had for decades. Yes, fear may come up, yes there may be some planning involved, and yes it may be challenging. But here’s one thing I can say for sure. I’ve never met one single person who has told me they were sorry they went after their desires. Not one.
I’m behind you. I know Becky would support you. You can do this.
Our desires let us know what we want in life.
So what’s stopping you from going from desire to doing?
It’s probably just you.
If you’d like to read Becky’s blog which takes you from beginning to end, plus planning tips and expenses, you can find that here. She’s quite a story teller and I think you’ll be able to fully put yourself into her adventure as you read through it.
She took some amazing photos and you can see them here too. There are about 36 and they capture her trip quite poignantly.
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