Dec 18, 2012
When the three young men featured at the start of Tom Allen's new film, Janapar, set out on their round-the-world bicycle tour, Tom's voice-over says something to the effect of "there is something out there ... we want to create meaning in our lives." Quickly the challenges of the road and the beauty found alongside it begin to carve that meaning, chucking artifice aside until the group splinters and each man goes his own way. We then follow Tom into the desert, into a woman's life, into his existential thoughts on exploring the world by bike, without a road map.
Researcher Brene Brown talks about how we are born equipped to face struggle and to persevere, and that we must be allowed to do it. She explains that hope is not actually an emotion, it's a learned skill that is the result of struggle. If life is too comfortable, as was seemingly the case for Tom and his mates prior to their trip, hopelessness takes root. And without hope, how can you have meaning?
I think it's safe to say that for the most part, by their very nature, adventures by bike create hope within us, the cyclists, and in those who hear our stories from the road. When traveling by bike, we must overcome obstacles of all sorts at times, to find food, water, physical comfort, shelter, and to make personal connections. And much more often than not, the overwhelming beauty and generosity of the world is revealed, as is our resilience.
In Janapar, we watch Tom struggle (usually with humor by his side), as he peels back what's expected of him by his culture, his friends, his own set of rules, and, in the end, embrace his heart and his hope. This is the adventure calling us all as we return to the bicycle again and again to work out what path we need to follow next, or find our way through any number of life changes or challenges.
Janapar is much more than a travelogue. Tom weaves his tale with clever juxtaposition and flashbacks, lots of humor, and excellent photography, so that we are truly engaged with his choices and journey toward a more meaningful life, a journey we might imagine taking ourselves. As Tom implores in the film, "Do it, do this kind of trip, your life will never be the same again!"
The 79-minute feature premiered earlier this year at the 20th Raindance Film Festival in London and is now available for purchase (DVD or download) at Janapar.com. Through December 19, Tom is offering an exclusive 10%-off voucher code which you can use on your purchase: 10PERCENT.
Janapar was shot by Tom Allen and edited by friend and former BBC producer/director James Newton.
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