As a third year student, I need to slowly start planning my future, and what better way to get inspired than listen to Benedict Allen talk about his experience with travelling and exploring? But before I begin, let’s do a short introduction about who Benedict Allen is.
Photography by Murdo MacLeod
Benedict Allen is a British writer, traveller and adventurer best known for his passion of travelling to remote locations and learning new survival skills from indigenous people. He has recorded six TV series for the BBC, written nine books and is also an international motivational speaker. One of the things he’s famous for is the fact that he had to eat his dog in one of the expeditions, due to harsh surviving conditions.
However, let’s not be scared by that! Benedict explained how it was his dream since childhood to become an explorer and see the world with other eyes. Ever since a child, his interest in exotic locations and customs was inspired by his father Colin Allen. As the years went by, Benedict’s desire to go out in the world and see what it has to offer increased, making his main goal to travel across the Amazonian rainforest.
After graduating [university], I worked in a warehouse for a few weeks, just to get the money I needed to travel to South America.
Everything was said and done and soon after that, Benedict found himself in the rainforest, being chased by goal miners, “third-class assassins”. As he dived deeper into the nature, he ran across a few aborigine villages, where in order to be part of the community, he needed to be initiated ( to be strong as a crocodile). After undergoing several trials, Benedict explains:
All this men were dancing and telling us to be brave. Having been through that ritual, we thought the worse was over, except, that was the better day of the initiation. After that, we got beaten with sticks at least four times a day.
The ceremony was all about bonding, all about forgetting the differences and learn to work together.
By the end [ after six weeks], we were finding a way to cope with this huge world. I was initiated into this culture.”
His journey hadn’t stopped there. He underwent several adventures with different villagers and worked with children as well and he understood he needed to be more humble after seeing how little girls had great knowledge of surviving in the rainforest and using herbs as treatments.
I’m either going to become a hunter or a [herbs] gatherer.
Gradually, after spending months in the rainforest, Benedict understood the necessity of processing his own food and things were slowly deteriorating. He started to become ill and his cautiousness was slowly fading. When things started to go wrong, he realised he needed to take challenges and try something else.
In the end, I wasn’t alone. I thought of the people who had faith in me, my parents, friends; and I survived. After seven and a half months, I pulled myself outside the rainforest in the Amazon.
Benedict Allen had not stopped there. After the Amazon expedition, he travelled all around the world in order to find new villages and understand better the functionality of new communities: Russia, Mongolia, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Papua New Guinea, the Gobi dessert . His determination and curiosity of learning new things was what kept him going.
On his webiste, http://www.benedictallen.com/, he says:
For me personally, exploration isn’t about conquering nature, planting flags or leaving your mark.
It’s about the opposite: opening yourself up and allowing the place to leave its mark on you…
That’s why, for me, listening to him was inspirational and made me understand I need to find a way of creating my future, of deciding whether a path will be right or wrong and challenging myself more. As Benedict himself said,
It’s all about finding something in yourself.
It’s about how much potential you have.
For those in the same situation as me, take a minute and think about the options you have. Are you really doing what you want with your life? If not, what would you change? Don’t let harder steps ruin your desire for a better future! Work, determination and inspiration is what makes a life truly full-filled.
Always remember, the choice of today is the reward of tomorrow!