I was a little bit shocked today. I googled Anne Mustoe – something I’d been meaning to do for ages and ages – and found that she died at the end of last year. I first read about this lady some years ago, when I was stuck in the awfulness of what passes as the real estate business here, and chaffing to be off, discovering new places, sights and adventures. There was this little voice inside of me (don’t tell me you don’t have one – even if you do shout it down), which kept telling me how ridiculous my ambitions were – I was about 56 at the time, so coming across Anne Mustoe’s books was affirming and inspiring. I don’t pretend to admire her writing style, but what she did was way impressive!
At the age of 54 she gave up her comfortable lifestyle to travel the world on a bike. Just like that, she decided, and she did it. Not only that, but she wasn’t one of these superfit, marathon-runnning, golden oldies, she was unfit, and she hadn’t ridden a bike in 30 years. She was naive, and innocent and totally unprepared for lots of the adventures she was to encounter ……..well, excepting that in her former life she had been a headmistress – and one in the best British tradition from all accounts….I remember them well, even if you don’t! To be sure, these were not ladies with whom you would mess! Here is her obit from Britain’s Daily Telegraph (apologies for quoting that, but it does give the best account of her life so far as I can see):
So, not only did she grab my attention for what she did, but also by nurturing her creative side and writing books about it – this, was, of course, mainly before the days of blogging, travel or otherwise. Whilst I found her writing to be, well, perhaps inevitably, a bit schoolmarm-ish, I found her exploits fascinating, and I admired her for becoming an unintentional bestseller.
I didn’t read them all yet, so there might be words of wisdom I’ve missed, but the biggest lesson here for me is just get out and do it. So many of us dream about it, talk about it, whatever it is. It isn’t necessarily travel for everyone. I’ve been down. I read Tony Robbins, and Jack Canfield, and Brian Tracy and Martha Beck in attempts to get back up, at one low point. Last year I read “The Secret”…..I could have saved myself the trouble of reading those other books, and just read that, which, essentially, sums them all up. It talks about the Law of Attraction. I believe in that, but essentially what that is, and what all the hours of reading or thinking or listening, conclude is to simply GET OFF YOUR BUM AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO DO WHATEVER IT IS YOU WANT TO DO. That’s the secret which Mustoe understood without having to be told, maybe lots of people of her generation did, come to think about it. Maybe we’ve lost the way somewhere between the pub and the sofa. Robbins, Beck et al simply encourage us, provide examples of people (like Mustoe) who did it. Good for them if they can make a bundle out of kicking us up the backside to get us started, but basically it’s:
(1) Making your mind up and then
(2) Figuring out how to do it.
“Half the Sky” by-the-way, the book I keep harping on about on Facebook, is chock full of the most amazing stories of women doing far more extraordinary things than Anne Mustoe, but perhaps for women of a certain age she is easier to identify with….and here are a couple more examples of women who are currently doing it Babara Weibel from Hole in the Donut travel blog and Evelyn Hannon of Journeywoman, both of whom prove that you don’t have to be in the first flush of youth to follow your dream, in fact, in both cases their writing reflects the style and wisdom which comes with age.
I don’t pretend to have fully digested the lesson as yet, but since I was released from the rat race a lot of things I half knew have become clear to me, and the fear is melting away. Anne Mustoe was 76 when she died, not that old from where I’m standing, but there never is time to waste, because if you think you’ll get started next year, or after the next Big Mac, or after the next cigarette, or when you’ve plucked up enough courage, or whatever excuse you harbor, you likely won’t do it.
Someone at Nike understands it, but really, we should understand that wearing the T-shirt is not what it’s about, wear an old shirt but DO IT anyway!