Some of my grandfathers most cherished positions are his war diaries. A collection of notes from day to day life as a young man part of a world in conflict. Written with the neat and in precise writing and phrases of a future architect. As I cycle I miss my family. For my grandfather his isolation at points must have been extreme. His only link back home came in the form of a rare, often censored, letter or telegram.
Many people I meet along the road share similar stories from their families. An uncle who hitched a ride on a fishing boat to Alaska and came home 7 years later having visited 3 continents. The aunt who emigrated to Australia, never to return to the her home for the rest of her life. Brothers, mothers, children adventuring the world over.
In contrast I travel with a live GPS tracker, updating my family on my location and safety. On my handlebars sits a phone, several times more powerful than our first family computer. Receiving messages via Instagram, Messenger, iMessage, Facebook, Whatsapp, Strava, Telegram, Viber, SMS, Email… I have a hard time remembering where I last spoke to anyone. Connected always.
It’s popular to want an escape from technology. We spend most waking hours connected to some form of digital device. Our faces lit from below in a pale blue hue. It’s hard to appreciate how different – and worse – life would be without them.
As I ground up towards a Turkish mountain pass – headphones in, podcast on – a comment from one of the hosts stood out.
Now I do admit that I enjoy technological isolation. I’m very lucky to have weeks to myself in remote regions of the world. No signal. My bike. My stove. My tent. But my daily life – even on the bike – is better with technology.
I’ve been thinking long and hard about how – and why – to share the trip. Friends want to share in the adventure. Colleagues need to know my whereabouts and if I’ll be joining that conference call. Family want that little reminder I’m still A-OK. For me, I want to keep a record of my feelings, friendships and experiences on the road. As my grandfather did in his diaries. Thanks to technology I’ve found a way to do it.
Today I shared the first video diary. I’ll be sharing a new one each week. Subscribe – and turn on notifications – to get them first.
Now let’s answer those other needs: