ChrisLee

.is

Say Yes More

Originally posted on a now defunct version of this site in April 2014

While I was researching something inconsequential at work, this tweet popped up on a site I was looking at:

Everything about it piqued my interest. Adventures are awesome, the South of France is beautiful, Elliptigos look really fun and #sayyesmore is a great hash tag. I dropped Dave a tweet asking where I could sign up, and expected to hear no more about it.

Then a message arrived in my twitter inbox.

“Hey Chris, drop me a line and I’ll send you details”

So I dropped him a line, and he sent details:

The Elliptigo was in storage in Nice after one of Dave’s previous expeditions, and he needed to get it back in London. As an adventurer himself he decided to open it up to other people who may be interested, providing a mutually beneficial solution to everyone involved.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find the time off work to do the whole ride, but suggested riding from Nice to Paris (~600mi). In Paris I’d meet another prospective adventurer who could ride it back the rest of the way, and I could jump on a Eurostar home.

For a while this seemed like a fitting arrangement, although as Dave was about to set off on his current expedition in Chile it ultimately proved too logistically difficult to connect the dots. Someone who was able to do the whole trip got it in the end.

I’m inspired though. It’s cool seeing that someone can Skateboard across Australia, Paddleboard the length of the Mississippi River, Elliptigo around Europe and make a living out of it. I love the idea of being in a position to outsource adventures, too.

Below is the beginnings of me planning the route I’d ride. The plan was to do around 75 miles a day (tough, especially with the rowdy elevation!) and Couchsurf / camp where suitable.

I’m quite tempted to do the ride anyway at some point. It passes through loads of lovely places – Aix en Province is beautiful, I’ve heard good things about Avignon, and the South of France as a whole. I’m not put off by the elevation either, even though the total climb for the ride is only just under an Everest’s worth (8158m).


When it works

Fields fly past. Greens and browns mirrored by a long-absent blue sky.

Midnight in Harlem through the headphones, hot coffee cooling to a drinkable temperature on the table.

Laptop open, documents open. Just over an hour until the train rolls into London: enough time to nail this piece of work, then a short walk to do the next in the world’s largest library.

To work surrounded by nature & culture; varied and interesting backdrops rather than beige and contrived office spaces.

This is the appeal of freelancing.


Ubiquity

Every house has one of these:

kettle
Here are some other things everyone owns:

microwave cup broom

You could visit any home in the country and probably recognise / operate (almost) everything therein.

Isn’t that boring?

..?

Imagine how much else exists:

Vacuum coffee maker

Cool lamp thing

Gong

Klein bottle

Ant farm

Frog sound

Cezve

hurdy gurdy

What we’re frequently exposed to defines our perceived ‘normality’: true with ideas, opinions, objects.

Widening exposure means opportunity for new insights.

So go forth, widen!

This post was testing whether anything meaningful can be written using no word more than once.

(Proof) 😛

Thoughts: concise becomes a must. Functional words like ‘is’, ‘it’, ‘if’, ‘because’ become precious. Punctuation provides tricksy workarounds. As does pluralisation.


Kerouacian intent

I once read the phrase ‘Kerouacian intent’ and it lodged itself in my head as the go-to adjective for labeling hare-brained adventure plans. 

“About 25 years ago, I took a bicycle across the United States. I soon found out that the greatest item of clothing was the trusty bandanna. There were dozens of uses for a bandanna – as a pot holder, a chain cleaner, a sun shield, a headband, a snot rag, a declaration of Kerouacian intent

While cycling recently, all I could think about were all the times people asked what career I wanted to assign my life to and I flippantly answered ‘Bill Bryson’.

I always wondered whether it was a legitimate response.

It’s far from a ‘real job’ but there’s a definite attraction to his lifestyle of travelling, writing about it, and earning money from the writing to allow him to repeat the process seemingly ad infinitum (or at least for most of his adult life: he’s still going strong at 64).

With a few years under my belt I now realise I’d rather carve out my own style than imitate Bill; my answer now probably wouldn’t be as punchy. Bill Bryson mixed with a bunch of others – Dervla Murphy, Ted Simon, Alistair Humphreys, Mark Beaumont, any of a million other people who decide to see the world, experience it, and write about it to try and inspire other people to do the same.

I realise while writing this that I’m standing at the feet of giants, and waxing lyrical isn’t enough to get me any closer to their shins (let alone shoulders).

Currently though, I’m in a position to make something involving travel and writing happen. 

And while the phrase is evocative, an adventure of Kerouacian proportions – characterised by stream of consciousness reports of recklessly enthusiastic experimentation with drugs – doesn’t appeal. Perhaps Brysonian intent would be more fitting?

Murphyian?

Simonian?

Or maybe even Jovian, after Simon’s account of his 78,000 mile, 4 year motorbike odyssey.

Whichever adjective sticks, this is my statement of its intent.


Neil Gaiman

In this speech Neil articulates better than I ever currently could my thoughts about work, life and the balance between them. He also speaks from the position of having made a living by living accordingly, which is always nice reassurance.

Some highlights:

“I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure, and stop when it felt like work. which meant that life didn’t feel like work.”

“Nothing I do where the only reason for doing it was the money, was ever worth it. the things I did because I was excited and I wanted to see them exist in reality have never let me down and I’ve never regretted the time I spent on any of them.”

“The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you’re getting away with something, and that at any moment now they will discover you”

And my favourite:

“more and more of today’s world is freelance, because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.”

Still best to aim for all three though, I reckon!

Watch it here: