Walking The Talk

19.May 2011

Our Journey

3381 Steps on the Poon Hill Trek

Jason and I went to a party this past weekend where we didn’t know more than 5 of the hundred or so other revelers that also attended.

On the drive home we saw a fellow limping along side his bike as he approached a long hill so we stopped to see if we could help out. He had twisted his knee and, unable to ride, was resorting to hitch-hiking to get home to Calgary. We rearranged our belongings, stuffed his bike in the back and drove him the three hours home.

This comes on the heels of seeing a tweet on Twitter the other week from a UK couple who were coming to Canada to start a 5 month bike tour in Calgary along with their 2 year old son. I asked if they had a place to stay and, when they said no, offered to pick them up from the airport and give them a place to work through the jetlag.

One of the greatest things we learned, while we were traveling, is that people are generally kind and want to help out. Having been treated so well during our time away we vowed that when we returned we would step out further and help others.

We talked about it a lot; how we would join the Couchsurfing community, try to meet some of the people we’ve know online, and generally just expose ourselves to meeting more interesting people. But it’s easy to stay wrapped up in our little cocoon.

Like any great movement our talk finally reached the tipping point and the time came to start walking the talk.

Jason and I are a little on the introverted side and, while I love being around people and in the center of the action, I also love just being alone and watching the world go by. I find small talk difficult and would rather be doing something that leads to conversation rather than just trying to have a conversation.

I read somewhere once that in order for change to happen the pain of being where you are has to be greater than the pain of change. I like it. Of course pain is relative and, in this case, is definitely not physical! But I had decided that I wanted to step out more and reached a point where I would be angry with myself if I looked back later and regretted that I hadn’t tried harder.

The tweet from Becki came at just the right time and I fired off an invitation before I had a chance to think. Quite frankly I was relieved when she didn’t reply as I had no idea how it was going to work with the three of them in our small apartment. And then, the night before they were to fly, she emailed asking if the invitation was still open. Well, I couldn’t say no at that point could I? And I’m so glad I didn’t! They are a lovely couple and, despite their crippling jetlag, we had some marvelous chats about stepping out and adventure and seeing your dreams come true. They are nearing Vancouver now on their epic bike trip and are themselves walking the talk and pushing themselves every day.

The party invitation was a generous inclusion to a marvelous 40th birthday party of someone we have only met a few times. Gathering close to a hundred of her family and friends Anita hosted a weekend to remember. We entered knowing only a few people but left with a hundred new friends. Everyone was super friendly and would simply walk up, introduce themselves, tell us how they knew Anita and asked us about our story. Amazing. We had a fabulous time and were honored to be part of Anita seeing her dream come true. No, not turning 40 silly! Anita arranged the party to have her favorite singer Valdy perform for her. A long time dream that she made happen…but more on that another day.
And finding Dillon on the side of the road was serendipitous. Having just spent the weekend in the company of kindness and being newly intrigued about bike touring it wasn’t hard to stop and see what was up. Not only were we able to help him out but he turned out to be one terribly interesting fellow. Having traveled to many of the places that we have and with an outlook on life that favors gathering experiences rather than possessions, our conversation was easy and varied as we rolled over the foothills back home.

And so we will keep trying to walk the talk. It still won’t be easy but we have some early wins that will keep us wanting to step out of our comfort zone to learn more about people and selfishly enrich our own experiences.

 

 

 

 

 

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18 Responses to “Walking The Talk”

  1. Michelle Says:

    You continue to inspire and remind me of the wonderful people you both are. : )

  2. Claire Says:

    Very cool post. Thanks for sharing. I have to remind myself sometimes that whatever it is that I am scared/worried/timid about, it probably won’t kill me and I will come out A-OK on the other side! Sounds like you guys came out more just ok-lots of new friends and new connections!
    Claire recently posted..Travelers Regret

  3. Glenda Says:

    Great post! Always good to get out of our comfort zone! Glad you enjoyed the party and so nice of you pick Dillon up!

    What am I doing to get out of my comfort zone? Heading out into the bush this summer.
    Glenda recently posted..stamp paper fruity goodness

  4. Matt Says:

    Inspiring! It’s so easy to get caught up in our own little comfortable world and forget that there is a whole world of adventure, discovery and friendships out there just waiting for us to step outside our comfort zone a bit and make the effort. Your experience just goes to show what can transpire when we actually do that.
    Matt recently posted..Is Travel Blogging Bad for the Environment

  5. my. Says:

    Hi Gillian,

    Stumbled upon your post via Matt @1yearsabbatical. This is the the type of post that makes you feel all mushy inside (in a good way!). I, too, have met many who have helped me in some shape or form during my travels. The thought of giving back is perfect for how things in life tend to come in full circle ….. leading to your serendipitous encounter with the biker. Cool read! :)
    my. recently posted..JOSHUA TREE- CALIFORNIA — DESERT WILDFLOWERS MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY

  6. Poi Says:

    Great post – I feel the need to run outside and help someone out now, well done!
    Poi recently posted..Goodtime Resort- Koh Mak

  7. Akila Says:

    Great post! Patrick tends to be really shy, too, but traveling has helped him open up a lot. And, what a wonderful story about you helping another traveler! You both are such good people – I know so many would have just ignored him and gone on.

  8. amy Says:

    This is great advice. I love the quote regarding change and pain. So very true – shifting the way you look at it makes all the difference.

  9. Ayngelina Says:

    Traveling has opened me up a lot, mostly because if I had remained as shy I would have been alone the last year. It’s nice to see you have been able to learn and use it moving forward.
    Ayngelina recently posted..Where everyone is dying to get in

  10. jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World Says:

    Very inspiring. We can all do with ‘walking the talk’ more often in our lives.

  11. Dalene - Hecktic Travels Says:

    I don’t know about you guys, but before Pete and I ever went traveling, we definitely didn’t walk-no-kinda-talk. Sure, we were generous to our friends and family, but to strangers? Instances were few and far between.

    But after traveling for so long, boy, has that changed in us. The generous hospitality of the people in South America awakened that in us. We will no longer hesitate to help anyone that we can, friend or stranger. It’s amazing how that perspective has changed.
    Dalene – Hecktic Travels recently posted..Vancouver Island in Photos

  12. Anthony Says:

    Travelling has really changed me and opened up my perspective on life, friends and family. I to can be introverted and hate small talk just to check a conversation going. i would rather just spend time talking about issues that really matter. Great post :)
    Anthony recently posted..Thali Time In India

  13. Dave and Deb Says:

    Good for you. We have found that opening ourselves up to situations even if we are intimidated, a little afraid or just too plain lazy, always turns out to be an excellent decision. It looks like you are going to have a stellar year by walking the talk. Thanks for reminding us all to give a little and follow through with making a change.
    Dave and Deb recently posted..A Jewel of Petra- The Monastery

  14. Kim Says:

    Great post. I’ve been trying to open myself up more as well. It is scary but once it’s over I’ve never regretted it. I’m a bit of an introvert as well, but I find people fascinating, so I’ll walk away from a good conversation with a new person with a major high. Life is so interesting and amazing when we break out of our shells and step out in to the world.
    Kim recently posted..Rafting in Ashland- Oregon

  15. Tijmen Says:

    I noticed a few times now that when I’m at home and having a deskjob I’m such a closed and shy person, while on the road I’m a very different and more open person. I promised myself to keep being the open person once I got back home, but it just seems to wear of after a while. Its just like I get sucked back into my old life again. Hopefully at some point I just keep being the open person and not beign so shy anymore :)
    Tijmen recently posted..Interview with Megan from OnMyWayRTW

  16. jade Says:

    I like this idea- walking the talk. There are definitely parts of my life that I could apply this to. Isn’t it great how travel opens us up to new opportunities and adventures? Most of which make us so happy!

  17. Mike Lenzen | Traveled Earth Says:

    Like you, I’d say I’m on the introverted side. Often have I thought about picking up a hitchhiker, or offering our place up to couchsurfers. I’m quickly running out of time to do so, and I suspect I’ll be on the benefiting side of someone else’s kindness before I have the opportunity to give back.
    Mike Lenzen | Traveled Earth recently posted..Come What May- A Recap of our Month

  18. Becki Says:

    Hey!!! :)

    Great post, I’ve only just stumbled on it after browsing your blog (internet time is limited thee days..)

    What you guys did for us was absolutely incredible and we’re so immensely grateful, it made such a difference to the start of our trip to be so well looked-after and have the chance to chat to fellow travelers. I felt I learnt a lot even in those few days, and certainly had my perceptions and expectations challenged and horizons broadened- like you, we’re both normally fairly introverted and Matt especially is quite shy, but we were determined to overcome our fears and truly throw ourselves into our trip. We’ve stayed with so may couchfurfing and warmshowers hosts now; each experience has something different to offer, and we’re learning so much and being so greatly inspired. I can’t wait to sign up for both couchsurfing/warmshowers when we get home and continue the experience.

    From the bottom of our hearts, thank you thank you thank you- it was such a fantastic way to begin our trip. You guys are amazing!