Britta is a 27-year-old woman who is making her first long bike trip. It’s her first time away from Europe and the first time traveling alone. One day, she decided to travel and on the following day she left for Canada. According to herself, she’s very impulsive. I believe that.
She’s the first woman alone I’ve seen on the trip and I’m the second she’s come across. We met at the Rampart Creek hostel on the way between Jasper and Banff National Parks.
Having left so abruptly means that she didn’t plan anything. She didn’t buy anything, didn’t check out the roads, temperatures of places. She resolves problems as they arise.
All the food she had with her for the next 3 days: mixed nuts, peanuts, 2 granola bars, hard candy, bread and cookies.
Her bicycle is borrowed, as well as her panniers (which aren’t waterproof).
She’s just not with it and scattering and losing the few things she has is her specialty. The other day she forgot her sleeping bag at one of the stops she’d made for lunch.
She only noticed what had happened when at night, when it was time to go to sleep, she couldn’t find the sleeping bag.
Well, here it’s been around 0–3 degrees C (32–37 degrees F) at night. We’re in a mountainous area, near glaciers and the nights are really cold.
Britta with the borrowed bike. Final preparations before leaving.
She had to think, she got out everything she had in the panniers, the only towel (hers is a face towel), papers (she has 4 maps) and clothes.
She covered her legs with the socks and clothes she had, her stomach with the 4 maps and her chest and neck with the face towel.
She couldn’t sleep because of the cold, of course, but she survived the night. And when she tells the story the first thing she says is about the people who live in a vulnerable situation on the streets. She talks about how difficult it must be to have a life sleeping out on the streets every day because she couldn’t sleep that way for even one.
And she reflects: “It occurred to me that people may not die of the cold, but perhaps they die of exhaustion or lack of sleep.”
Going towards the road with non-waterproof panniers.
Empathy is a process and it requires of each person a certain level of pain and understanding.
Some people are very sensitive (without any moral judgment here, ok? This isn’t necessarily good or bad) They are able to empathize just by seeing or hearing a story and truly feel how the other feels. Others need to experience for themselves, at least a little, what the other feels every day.
I’ve noticed that there are still people who are unaware of certain things or about issues of the human condition. Not even experiencing themselves what the other feels or felt, are they able to empathize with another’s situation.
Britta and I in front of the hostel in Rampart Creek, enthusiastic about the rain we’d be going through during the day.
The global community is already diverse and for the modern world, the future, to come into being, we need to be more empathetic. How do we enter the world of another and still remain in our own world?
With all our ease of movement, of communicating with each other, informing ourselves makes the world smaller and smaller. We’ll be in closer and closer contact with the differences and diversity, too.
I’ve come to the conclusion that empathy is an ability of the modern human. The deal is, how much pain will you and I have to go through for us to become a modern person?