Changing the world doesn’t have to be a big thing I don’t think. Growing up as a kid there’s such a strange power dynamic around changing the world, you always hear and learn about these great public figures who do incredible things, Sir Edmund Hillary, Sir Apirana Ngata, Ernest Rutherford.
As we grow into our teenage years we turn our attention to celebrities with long arrays of great feats such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp, Barack Obama, but to what end? Why do we care about the big stuff and why can we not celebrate the tiny alterations here and there?
Defining a changed world, in my opinion, stems from influencing any kind of adjustment in other peoples lives. It doesn’t have to be this enormous thing it could just be as simple as changing somebodies opinion.
There needs to be a realism that we don’t need to force a change to happen. We probably aren’t going to single-handedly unhinge democracy, be the first person to step foot on Mars, assassinate Trump or solve climate change. But we could indefinitely change the lives of our community and the space which we exist in, kind of like an undertow working below the surface.
I’ve made my waves here and there though. In the middle of last Winter, I rode my bike 1100km across the North Island of New Zealand to raise funds for a charity organisation called VOYCE Whakarongo Mai, which is an advocacy service for young children in state care. The money wasn’t the point though, what was more amazing was the awareness raised from it. You had people from all walks of life donating money to the cause.
A couple of weeks prior to the ride was mostly spent just spinning yarns with my barber’s, taxi and Uber drivers, schoolmates, doctors, family members just spreading the word. I think it’s once people actually know what you’re doing that their minds are changed. Sharing the word and telling people your story goes to show your humaneness, your humility. It makes you relatable, recognizable.
While other people might not share the same experiences as you do, when you humble yourself and show your previous vulnerabilities what you’re doing is inspiring people to be apart of your change. Gaining momentum kind of like where a river reaches a bottleneck.
So you’ve got some speed. That’s great, it was great. There was a time when the world was moving quicker than I was. The day before the ride it was full stress mode. Checking ten times to make sure we had everything ready, breaking a few bags trying to shove stuff into them, an absolute mess. With speed comes stress. Natural stress.
My friend Taylor came over to our flat that day, and my other friend Jayden. Together their roles were to chill me out. To make me relax. Even my arch nemesis flatmate Sophie was feeling the vibes of stress that I was spewing that night. Together they mixed up some pasta. A dish for the carb gods. They were angels that night. You can’t do this stuff by yourself. You need the help and support but it can start with you. A changed world can start with you, all you need to do is start.
The first day of my seven day tour was like a lucid dream. No, seriously I was still half asleep because I hadn’t slept enough the night before. Anxious about not having everything I needed even though I’d be planning the ride for months.
It was 6am and we were standing outside of the War Memorial site in Wellington was where the journey began. By this stage, the fundraiser had fetched over $1500 and the good luck prayers and wishes were flooding my Facebook.
After saying two prayers in Maori and English the game was on. Pitch black highway cycling watching the first signs of people heading off to work. By the time I reached my first stopover of Waikanae my legs were reduced to jelly. My front wheel had been sliced into by glass on the road and things were looking shit. About 60km into the morning and it was all still way ahead of me.
Sitting on a toilet at a service station, I checked my phone thinking that it was kind of all over but I remember checking Facebook and seeing the overwhelming support and prayers from people who had been inspired by the cause. The taxi driver that donated to the fundraiser twice what my taxi fare cost. Family living in Dubai who stayed up late into the night to watch my progress. These were the people who inspired me to get back on the bike.
It can’t be done alone. The reason you can’t do it alone is that your inner critic will tell you that you can’t achieve what you want to achieve like water stagnating in a lake. Your support networks drip feed you with the same inspiration you gave them.
The real value of getting back on my bike was knowing that I was going to make it no matter what! Even if that meant sitting in the car while it rained or getting a lift over hilly roads that were too dangerous to ride.
The view was beautiful. Both from a cycling perspective seeing New Zealand and also making an impact. Going to places I’d never seen before, meeting new people along the way who let me stay with them, and finishing the ride on day seven with family I’d never met. A truly life-changing experience shared by all.
Your change in the world doesn’t have to be by riding a bike halfway across the country though. You don’t have to advocate for millions of Pakistani girls for the right of education, or even win a Nobel Peace Prize. It could be something even more local, like encouraging your friends not to bully other people, like reminding yourself not to hurt others and where possible showing gratitude for all the blessings you have.
There’s a rippling effect that comes from changing the opinions of those around you. They won’t even know it but your existence will change a person’s worldview. They don’t even have to agree with what you’re doing.
But like everything, it takes time, hard work and the strong support of others. It’s hard work changing people’s views. But by sharing your story you can at least show them that you are just like they are, imperfect. Through that space, you are opening yourself up to be human and maybe one day, they will do the same thing too.
Thanks for checking in!