I’ve always ridden in all kinds of weather and don’t always pack rain gear so I keep a book stowed in my saddlebag for those times when I need to sit out a storm or just want to stop for a hot cup of coffee, get warm, and take a break. Generally my book choices have been motorcycle related. Of course now with a tablet and a Kindle app I can carry an assortment of titles with me.
Some books are hard reads, slow going, and lacking in interest, these are best read in short bursts over lunch a few pages at a time. Others, though, grab you and make you want to sit longer to see what happens next. One such book I’ve recently finished is Anxiety Across the Americas: One Man’s 20,000 Mile Motorcycle Journey by Bill Dwyer (a.k.a. Atlas Rider) who rode from Phoenix, AZ through South America with the goal of arriving eight months later in Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.
I was fascinated by the author’s bold honesty that set the stage for his trip. He confesses the frailties of his closest relationship, admits he doesn’t speak any Spanish, but would learn along the way, and even frankly discusses his own personal anxiety in a dialog with a psychiatrist. Many of us have been in the situation in which we needed to take a momentous trip or make a life change that everyone we are close to tells us is crazy, or dangerous, or self indulgent. We do it anyway and the experience is mixed with a sense of panic and euphoria. I find that kind of honesty refreshing, healthy, and growth oriented. I was on board and rooting for Bill from the first page.
His odyssey is recounted in linear fashion with each chapter listing the day, city, latitude & longitude, as well as a significant quote to set the tone for the chapter. The author recounts being shaken down by Mexican police early on in the trip (which he captured on video) as well as his run ins with bureaucracy, greed, and corruption at border crossings and the methods he learns to make his way through South America easier. What struck me most is that every time there was an incident, which required help, it arrived in the form of mechanical repairs, a place to stay, a meal, a ride. It reminded me of the Emerson quote, “once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”
In the end and without giving too much away, Anxiety Across the Americas reinforced what I’ve heard from other motorcycle explorers—people are not that different and that more often than not our worst fears aren’t realized and stereotypes don’t hold true. When you boldly set a goal and bravely follow it through with an open and honest heart the universe will see that you get what you need. Anxiety Across the Americas is an entertaining story about one man straying far beyond his comfort zone and the personal growth he achieves by doing so.