We all dream of going on a daring adventure, stepping out of our day-to-day lives so we can live out in the world with an exciting new reality, where our mood is as capricious as our environment. After deciding to claim just that a year ago, my anxious pre-journey mind fantasized about what incredible adventures lay ahead, what challenges I would face, and ultimately what stories I would have to tell in the end. Biking through Romania provided no shortage of adventures; from standing off with a pack of vicious herd dogs in the middle of an isolated rolling meadow, to dragging my 60 kg heap of gear through a kilometer long mud pit in an insect infested forest, to getting lost in a dated Romanian village being led by my compass and shouts in a foreign language. I had gotten everything I was looking for, but it wasn’t until attempting the Transfagasan Highway, Romania’s highest and most grueling road that I started to realize what I was truly looking for while still stuck in my mundane, adventure-less American setting.
My approach of the highway was laden with fear. The night before, I biked up to the base of the mountain so I would give myself adequate time to get through the pass the following day. I left the town just before the mountains late in the day, my rear wheel hub has snapped after the strain I had put on it going through tracks of road that certainly weren’t worthy of making it on a map, so I had apprehensions about whether the road would even be accessible and whether I was prepared for the trip. I cycled down through lush fields as the sun set, checking my map to see where I’d be entering. I eased up on the pedals as I approached the ominous arched sign over the road, “Highway 7C”, the road snapped sharply off the highway and pointed directly to the mountains I’d been looking at for the past few hours. I pedaled slowly through the night as bats flew over head, the moon kissed the ridge of the mountains, illuminating its peaks poetically as dogs barked in the distance. As I rolled my bike into a farm to set up camp, I heard the sound of angry sheep dogs intensified as they ran towards me in the dark, I jolted back to the road and sped away avoiding attack. After about an hour of playing this game with the dogs in the dark, I finally found a spot where I went undetected. I woke up early morning to a downpour, an extra seed of doubt for the ride ahead. As I started cycling to the mountains, the clouds parted but the intense feelings of fear and doubt didn’t. As I pushed up a steep incline in the cold wetness, I tried to figure out why there was so much misery surrounding the day, both in my mind and in reality. Was this opening my soul, what was the lesson in the frustration I was facing? After a grueling day of consistent uphill pedaling and forewarnings of fear by passing motorists, I sat at the top of the mountain face, overlooking a cascading waterfall and began to contemplate why I was facing so much frustration when I was getting everything I wanted, all the adventure I could’ve hoped for. It was there in my broken state that I realized by manifesting adventure for my ego, I had lost contact with manifesting the inherent joy that I thought the adventure would provide.
Every step we take through life, we have the choice of intending for either of our two separate selves, our lower self, which is the make up of our ego, and our higher self, which is what we know exists below our frustrated longing and needy behavior. As I sat at the base of Romania’s longest tunnel, which shot through the peak of the mountain, I realized that while I had effectively manifested everything I’d been intending, a feeling of adventure, listless endurance and accomplishment, it didn’t matter because I had lost touch with the part of me that really mattered, the part of me that is content without all the adventure and glory. Our focus and energy can create everything we want in life, but if we are creating through the ego, we may find that the things we end up with don’t actually create the expected fulfillment. There is a balance that exists in life when we connect with our higher self, our soul which has no association to physical and social needs, where we become whole and complete as we need to be, and our creation for the lower self becomes something secondary to what we already have inside. I realized where my intentions had led me, I had been facing this challenge as a way to serve my ego and had lost touch with the real connection to the magic of life. By intending something for my lower self, the process of creating it in my life led to a whole slew of negative feelings and insecurities. Even though it eventually became my reality, it had encapsulated my focus of energy, leading me further away from my higher self. The word ‘selfishness’ sets out to scorn the person who thinks about getting something for themselves, making it seem that by being selfish, we need to compete for, fight with and even steal everything that resides outside of us. The distinction here that needs to be made is that selfishness is only bad when a person is intending for their lower self, but the act of selfishness in intending for the high self is the key to joyful creation and prosperity in the world. Being selfish for our higher self creates the energy that makes people do kind things for strangers, give their time openly to help with no concept of loosing out, and is the definition of positive energy in the world. That’s why I think the world needs to start being more selfish, because if we can’t find the soulful energy in ourselves, we will find ourselves grasping at the destructive demands of our other self in order fill that void.
All it took was to check-in with myself and understand that the pain and fear was coming out of choosing to serve the wrong self, and I was able to instantly switch gears. I may have been switching gears downhill that day, but the change in mindset allowed me to climb higher into the self that matters. When you focus on connecting with your soul, your higher self, the part of you that needs no approval, no stories, outcomes or change, you will be surprise by the daring adventure you’ll be led down.