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The Pain of Freedom

Bali Scooter

When I first came to Bali last year, I thought I could survive without learning to ride a scooter. Heck, I had lived in South East Asia for almost two years at one point without ever needing to learn.   

In Vietnam, there were ample motorbike taxis, and the city was pretty walkable. In Thailand, there were “songthaews” (pick up truck taxis) and again, I would schlep around town by foot.   

Bali is different though.   

Sidewalks are few and far between, rideshare apps are essentially forbidden, and while people do walk,  it’s at everyone’s expense. Winding turns, uneven roads, and the aforementioned lack of sidewalks render it as dangerous as it is inefficient.   

Once I realized that my friends had no desire to to be my personal chauffeur, learning to ride a scooter became my only real option.   

Fortunately, one brave friend decided to teach me. Though he never showed it, I’m confident he regretted that decision almost immediately. Within the first 30 seconds or our lesson, I had run his scooter straight into a wall.   

“You’re doing great! That’s totally normal.”  

“Is it??…” I said, white knuckling the handlebars.   

For an hour I drove (very slowly) up and down a side street. Any person that drove by sent me into a moment of panic. Every street-dog glared at me, judgment in their eyes.  

Bali Scooter Lesson.jpg

Actual photo from my first scooter lesson…

WOW, would you check out that form!

Eventually, it was time to go home and my friend suggested I take it to the street for a quick spin before we headed back.   

I was AGAST.

The street?? But there were cars and people with eyes on the street! You have to go greater than 3km/hour on the street!   

After a few minutes of back and forth, and some encouraging words from my friend, off I went.   

To my surprise, it was WAY easier to go faster with the big kids, than to play small on the backstreets. It was easier to throw myself in, and realize I WAS ready than to dip my toe and let fear run the show.   

It’s been over a month since I first learned to ride and it’s been one of the most empowering feelings I’ve ever had.

I can go wherever I want. I can drive in the jungle and go on adventures. I can take myself to yoga without feeling dependent on someone else.   

Freedom isn’t free though. There’s an inherent risk, and I’ve already experienced a small dose of it.   

Not once, but TWICE, my scooter has fallen on top of me.   

Yes, you read that right.   

Both times I had a kickstand malfunction, so I’ll allay any fears you may have had that this happened while driving.   

The first time it felt like it happened in slow motion, and I walked away without a scratch. The second time, however, the bike toppled onto me before I could catch myself and I fell into a sharp corner of a nearby building.

I have a baseball-size bruise and my hip has been hurting ever since.   

This is the pain of freedom.   

In life, MOST things we want come with some form of risk. From the exhilarating feeling of jumping out of a plane, to the fulfillment of writing your very own book.   

Be it physical risk, social risk, or risk of losing one’s identity to a new and better version of ourselves, there is always some potential tradeoff to getting what we want.   

We have to be willing to invest the time and sacrifice the ego. We have to be willing to wager the necessary cost.  

The upside? The more we use our fear as a compass, the better we become at taking calculated risks.   

I’m not talking about reckless abandon that looks like speeding through the streets of Bali without a helmet, or taking out a second mortgage on your house for the business idea that you’ve done zero market research on.   

I’m referring to the type of risk that you can see an ROI on. This is the difference between feeling discomfort and actual danger.   

The universe wants to support our dreams, it wants us to feel free and to live life to the fullest. But it needs us to get off the couch, to get out on the streets. We need to be willing to accept the pain of freedom if we want to feel free.   

What opportunities are you missing out on because you’re too attached to feeling safe?   

Where are you confusing lack of actual safety with lack of a sure thing?  

There are no "sure things" when it comes to pursuing our dreams, the only thing you can be sure of is that it will require you to step up. To do things differently and to embrace the inevitable growing pains that come with being free. 

You got this. 

Hugs & Love,

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