“My palms were damp and my heart was racing. I felt a cold shiver run through me and my hands were shaking. The words I had practised saying earlier in the day were jumbled up in my head now. Yet, this was all par for the course – as always, I’d stumble over a few words, and miss a few lines, but I’d get through it in the end. I just hoped that what I had to say would someday contribute to a happier world. Perhaps that would make the long travel here, during which natural blues and natural greens had passed me by way too quickly, worth it. I took a deep breath and I got up. The air was musty. The fluorescent lights hummed.”
First in-person talk in a while
This Friday night I’ll be giving a Journey for Happiness talk. It’s the first in-person talk I’ve given about my cycling journey to Bhutan in well over two years. I’m nervous. I’m excited. But mostly nervous…all that stumbling over words that I’ll be doing…
Or maybe not…
Because all the natural blues and natural greens aren’t going to pass me by way too quickly on my way to the talk. No, this Friday’s talk will be about 15 miles away from where I live at a bicycle festival…and, naturally, I’ll be cycling there.
It’ll be in a big tent in a field…it could be somewhere up to 200 people, I’m told. Couldn’t be a better setting for a talk about happiness…
Take my time getting to the talk
And so, I’ll take my time getting to the festival. Maybe on the way there I’ll imagine all those faces looking at me – some may smile, others may glare. Maybe the words I want to say will jumble around in my head. But as they do, I’ll breathe in my green and blue surroundings and the journey there will be delightful and calming…that’ll give my words a better chance to contribute to a happier world…
The short excerpt I began this post with comes from my book, A Journey For Happiness. It comes midway in the book in a chapter called, A Wilder Space. It’s a chapter which begins with me reflecting on the worth of travelling too quickly to a distant place I don’t feel connected to to talk to a bunch of people about happiness, yet all the time longing for something wilder and more life affirming.
That chapter continues on to explore the importance of all the mountains, beaches, desertscapes I passed through on my epic cycling journey to Bhutan, and then closes with what happened when men with guns, not once but twice, showed up outside my tent as I was camped up in an inhospitable desertscapes. Wild and life affirming…yes it was…
But back to that talk…and others that are coming up or in the pipeline.
Muck n’ Mac – Friday 27th April
This Friday’s talk is part of the Muck n’ Mac festival – based out of Traquair House in the Tweed valley, and billing itself as “a weekend of gravel riding, live music, beer, yoga and family friendly activities.” Exciting, especially when you’ve got “The Man Who Cycle to Bhutan” as one of your family friendly activities.
I’ll be talking in conjunction with Bikes For Refugees – an organisation that empowers New Scots through the upcycling and provision of free bicycles, and one I’ve been wanting to work with ever since I got back from Bhutan. Finally we’re doing it…if you’re around, come on down.
Wellington College – Monday 9th May
Wellington College were a big contributor to the crowdfund of my book. They happened upon my project via one of their economics teachers interested in alternative economic ideas, with whom I used to cycle with back in my PhD days.
Wellington College requested a talk as part of their contribution, and additionally bought 25 copies. I sent those books ahead of me and I hear some of the students have got stuck into the book. I can’t wait to give my talk. About 100 students, I’m told, with a small dinner for deeper chat beforehand. This talk is exclusive. It’s in Berkshire and though I won’t cycle there I’ll get their gently.
The village of Kippen, near Stirling – maybe 2nd or 3rd of September
The date isn’t set in stone yet but this one is certainly happening. I hadn’t previously met the woman that requested this talk on the crowdfund, but she came across the book through a friend of a friend. The interconnectivity of our lives is not to be underestimated. Anyway, I’ve since met her in person, having hand delivered her books back in March, and we had a good chat over a coffee. It’ll be in a small venue in her village – I think anyone will be welcome to come and will share more when I have more details. I reckon I’ll cycle a good chunk of the way to Kippen.
Galway, Ireland – sometime in September
I have a very good friend in Galway who wants me to talk to his psychology students. I’m sure we can sneak a few extra folk in if they’re interested. I intend to cycle all the way to Galway – I might even make a holiday or a mini-journey out of it!
Others – Glasgow over summer, maybe in Hawick, and some online international talks?
These one’s aren’t even close to being confirmed. I’ve got some good links with folk in Glasgow and I’ve begun to have some conversations with some people that organise online talks. That’s how these things start – through sparking those little connections. I’ll keep you posted and give details as they come.
And even today, after dropping off a few books to a curious gallery in the town of Hawick for them to sell, we got to talking about me giving a small talk there…let’s see…journeys grow legs…
And do get in touch if you think we could make something work. I love talking about happiness these days. Especially since I got deep into it in my journey…
Did I tell you about a talk I have to do THIS Friday?
Anyway, that talk on Friday…well I haven’t started writing it yet…better get on…some real risk of word stumbling otherwise.