The Traveller's Burden - Sharing Secrets

Have you ever been let in on a secret that you don't know you can keep? It could be the hidden cafe down a back alley with the best ice coffees you've ever tasted, or the private room on the bottom floor of the library where it's quiet and has plugs everywhere. It could be the Subway store that sells you hot cookies fresh from the oven, or the neighbour's free wifi, or the rad cliff-jump through the scary old guy's backyard, or the loaded blackberry bush in the forest.

Whatever it is, the very thing that defines its value also holds the power to destroy it, scarcity and anonymity. Once everybody knows the secret, it is overwhelmed with attention and expectation, it simply does not have enough happiness to spread around to everybody and won't survive the scaling up of popularity. Like a glorious dream torn apart by waking up, you realize that the more you focus on it, and the more you try to take from it, the quicker it fades away.

My secret is a beach. I made friends with one of those hippie guys that everybody likes who could probably get hit by a car on his birthday and still find a way to make it a positive. I built up enough trust over a few weeks for him to invite me to a secret campfire down by the golf course. When he almost made me swear a blood oath, I realized how much it meant to him to keep the place free from littering, ill-mannered vagabonds, and also to respect the trust that was bestowed upon him. After he casually quizzed me for a few weeks about whether I had taken anybody else down to the fire spot, he proposed an invitation to a special camping trip with some friends. The location was mentioned out loud but spoken under breath. I had heard a myth a few years earlier about this particular hidden beach on the west coast and jumped at the opportunity to share a secret.

A two hour drive and one hour hike later through mud, trees, bridges and steps carved out of 100 foot logs, we came upon the most beautiful secluded cove I have ever seen. A clean, velvety wave crashed over the rocks in front of a waterfall. A huge rope-swing hung from a tree on a cliff above washed out caves at the shoreline. As the sun set over the ocean behind mountains on the distant horizon I realized that I wanted to tell everybody, and nobody, about this wonderful place. This, my friends, is The Traveller’s Burden and will haunt you for as long as your adventures shall live.

You have been enlightened by a unique experience and therefore you develop emotional ownership and responsibility for its protection. But not passing the secret on is a selfish paradox not unlike a butterfly smashing another caterpillar's cocoon before it has a chance to hatch.  

With great power comes great responsibility and although a secret should never be simply told or tooted like an obnoxious self-affirming horn. But it CAN be shared, and the future of travel and exploration depends on it. So share your secrets, share the burden. You might be surprised at just how much you gain out of sharing over keeping the beauty to yourself.

As for the magical beach I was shown by my trusting friend? I am happy to take you there this Summer! Care to join me? Get in touch! Or get a taste of what it's like through pictures and and adventure guide with my post on the Outbound Collective.


Matt McLean

Matt McLean is an ex-teacher who has lived and worked in 7 different countries, trying his hand as a cruise ship counsellor in the Caribbean, a waterski instructor in New York, a surfing coach in England, a radio announcer in Australia, a chalet host in France, a Lindt chocolatier in Canada, and a conference presenter in Austria.

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