Friday, September 5, 2014

Post-trip thoughts and wrap-up.

After bicycling/surfing/meditating/practicing tai chi/etc. for 40 days from Washington state back to Santa Cruz, reaching home was an abrupt change but the contrast helped me crystallize some of my thoughts on the trip and things I'd like to do differently in my life as result.

Post-trip photo - was shooting photos of a sunset session while my friends were surfing

I received a suggestion to continue to share online, so I plan to eventually add info on the environmental/ethical products I will be developing and the environmental/simple living ideas I have on my website:  

REFLECTIONS - A few thoughts on the trip and bicycle touring:

- Continual reminders on generosity.  This was one of the most striking aspects of the trip.  I was struck by how generous people are.  It was notable to me that I also was able to help others regularly.  I suppose this was due to the increased engagement with people when biking.

- Each day is vivid.  I usually journal every day, but I would get up to two weeks behind on my trip and then have no problem at all remembering the day very clearly.  I was amazed at how vividly I could remember each day.  Some days in my normal life, I have trouble remembering what I did two days prior.

- There is a precision to living simply.  I recently jotted down my equipment list to remember it for myself and it was quite easy to do off the top of my head.  This was due to the fact that I had carefully considered each item I brought on the trip and each item was put to good use (except the emergency items which I was glad to not put to use).  This was again in contrast to my normal life - even though folks often comment on my relative minimalism, I sometimes lose things in my house that I can’t find for weeks and also own things I have not used in a long time.

- Accumulation is difficult.  I found myself passing shops without any hesitation.  It didn’t matter if it was unique local art or CDs of local bands or anything - I just had no interest in buying things that I would then carry for hundreds of miles.  The sum total of sentimental items that I acquired on my own (vs. equipment which is outlined in the previous post and the few gifts I received - which consisted of two rocks and a wire heart) was a handful of pebbles.  No other mementos necessary and I feel a deep connection to this trip - so it suggests to me that sentimental items are of very limited value.

- Discipline is easy.  It was far easier to keep discipline on the bicycle trip.  In my daily life, I try to set rules to help keep discipline.  For example, on weekends, I have a rule to practice tai chi chuan and meditate before I have breakfast.  I set this rule after finding that if I set off on my day, I would never get around to practicing tai chi or meditating.  However, even with the rule, at home I find many distractions and often it will be several hours before I finally practice (usually hunger for breakfast is what prompts it).  When cycling, there are very few distractions - my main choices in the day were generally to either sit in the campsite or get on my bicycle.  So I found that I would just get my tai chi chuan and meditation practice done right away - little to no procrastination.  The distractions of life (internet being the worst of the worst) were exposed as major impediments to discipline.

- Emotions are more obvious.  I found myself feeling and noticing stronger emotions on the trip - both highs and lows.  I feel this may have been due to something similar in that there were fewer distractions to clutter my thoughts, so emotions were much more noticeable.

- Ego is more obvious.  With a simple life and simple choices (do I bike further or not?), the motivations for making choices became more obvious and clear.  After I hurt my back, I could see clearly that there were times I wanted to continue riding just because it would hurt my ego to ride less.  Taking the bus was a major concession and I realized that it was only major from an ego perspective.  It makes me wonder how many other choices I make throughout my life that are driven by ego.  With lots of things going on in my normal life, my motivations for specific decisions are not always as obvious (even to myself).  

I realize that getting hurt was a helpful learning experience in that it made me really assess my motivations for the trip or even for each day.

ACTIONS - Things that I plan to do differently as a result of these lessons:

1) Explorations in generosity.  I already had one in mind before the trip but the trip is motivating me to put it in motion: giving away bicycle lights.  It bothers me that folks ride around at night without lights so I have purchased a bunch of lights that I’ll just give to people when I see them cycling without bicycle lights.  I also discussed it with the local bicycle advocacy group and they thought it was a great idea so I'll post info about it at

2) Further reduce my time on the internet.  I already have my internet router connected to a timer which shut off my internet connection at 9:30pm.  I have decided to experiment with turning off my internet connection at ~ 7:30 PM).  I am also unsubscribing to sites that feed videos/articles that are interesting but not necessarily truly valuable (ex. surf videos).

3) Acquire and give things only which have lots of purpose and/or meaning (and make them when possible).  I have already been trying not to buy gifts just to buy gifts and also not to buy things for myself without lots of thought.  But buying so little over the course of a month made me realize that I can cut that down further.

4) Meditate and practice tai chi chuan outside.  Instead of doing my morning practice inside where distractions are readily available, I will be going straight outside to do tai chi chuan and meditation.  This will hopefully keep me from procrastinating until late in the morning.

5) Communicate more openly.  This is another area I have been working on and after realizing that I am often not that aware of my emotions, I will strive to pay more attention to them and express them when appropriate.  

6) Assess my motivations regularly.  Based on noticing how ego influences many decisions, I am going to work on assessing my motivations for my decisions on a great frequency.  I hope this will help me make better decisions (I can’t see how it would do anything but help).


7) Invest more in friendships.  Missing friends at home made me realize that I should invest more in my friendships.  Meeting lots of people is exciting, but it’s the long-term friendships that really are significant.

8) Bus travel.  It’s a funny outcome, but I was so appreciative of the bus rides I took (in helping me when injured) and the conversations on the bus were so interesting, that I intend to use the bus more.  

Surprisingly, the ride made me appreciate motorized vehicles more rather than less.  I still think bicycles are the best form of transportation, but at times it is pretty great to have a bus or car to help.  Examples would be when you are hurt or have to move something extremely heavy - though I did see someone in China cycling with a full-size refrigerator strapped to his bike (that has been an inspiration to me ever since and I’ve often challenged myself to take my bike even when carrying large/unwieldy items).  In any case, it was nice to have motorized vehicles come to the rescue for me rather than just viewing them as polluting, evil forms of transportation.

I think that the whole vehicle perception thing is aligned with how this trip has impacted me - it’s helped me to see a number of areas where I had blindspots.  It’s helpful for me to realize that I have lots to do to be more present, accepting, and open-minded.

Looking back:

It has been also interesting to see how the trip has evolved.  As I was planning the trip, I was really excited about surfing and bicycling.  The monastery visit was also something I was looking forward to.  I did not realize how great the trip would be for meditation and Tai Chi Chuan.  I did not foresee how amazing it would be to meet so many people (and so many interesting people) on the road.  And I do not think I expected the trip to provide this much insight to me and prompt so much introspection.  


Thank you for sharing the journey with me via this blog.  I have really appreciated the words of wisdom I have received, the great advice, and positive feedback that was due to the blog.  It has been a wonderful trip and I am going to try to use the lessons I learned from it in my daily life.  


  1. Well done Peter, impressive. You have been my life model for years in certain way, glad to see your start to aware self emotion and ego more. Well done of your bike trip and those insight you gain.

  2. Thanks for the nice comments, Sabrina! I was thinking how you'd love to do this trip while I was cycling. I definitely learned a lot from the trip and am incredibly thankful that I was able to do it.

  3. Peter you are such an inspiration! I loved reading about your journey and especially what you learned from it.

  4. Thank you so much, Emma! I appreciated your comments and encouragement along the way (helped motivate me to keep writing the blog :) ).

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  6. I see the sea is not stand it ... great. I wish I could be like you!
    teefury , redbubble , threadless.