UPDATED March 24, 2020

BY Henry Gold

IN Founder's Thoughts

18 comments

UPDATED March 24, 2020

BY Henry Gold

IN Founder's Thoughts

18 comments

A Few Thoughts From My Basement

 

A few days ago one of the participants on one of our upcoming tours regretfully cancelled his participation, adding “I have been putting my business hat on and trying to imagine the difficulties of operating a business during this time of so many unknown unknowns. I can’t imagine the challenges that you are facing trying to make decisions for your staff and clients. I wish you the best in terms of pushing through this challenging time.

‘It’s about how you handle fear rather than not having fear’

Challenging times indeed and I expect it to be much more so as times goes by. As the days pass, we at TDA see the necessity to cancel another tour and then another, tours that took months or even years to prepare. We analyze, talk through, look at all the possibilities and options and then do what needs to be done.

If, even for a moment, I start feeling negative in any way, all I have to do – as I sit in my basement in self-isolation – is to look at the pictures sitting on the desk in front of me. I smile. I smile because I see photos of my father and my mother both now deceased.

During the Second World War my father spent many months hiding in a hole dug out for him and two others under a kitchen table,  going out only at night to stretch his legs and get some food. How can I, with any seriousness, feel that I am having a hard time, when in my basement isolation I have a nice soft bed, warm water for showers, a cup of tea or coffee and snacks anytime I feel like it?  And plenty of toilet paper – though, frankly, after spending much time traveling around  the world, I know there are many other more important necessities.

When I look at my mother, always smiling, a woman who was on the 3rd transport to the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, a woman who lost all seven of her siblings, her parents and grandparents, how can I for a second allow myself to think this is hard? When asked by her friends, wasn’t she worried about her children travelling or working in some unknown corner of the world,  she would resolutely reply “and that will help me?

 

Several months ago, one of our young talented videographers, Laundon Peacock, who filmed the 2019 Tour d’Afrique video series – suggested that it was time to do a short video of the origins of our little company, one that now offers cycling experiences in over 80 countries. I can also assure you that we will add a few more destinations in the near future. He came to Toronto, shot some footage and edited a seven minute video called, The Origin Story.

Interestingly enough, he chose the following line from our interview to begin the video – ‘It’s about how you handle fear rather than not having fear’. Yes, today we are facing some challenging times, but to me, now is no different than other times in our brief history. Since the start of this company, we have undertaken projects to which there were no precedents. There was no one to learn from.  We had to gather as much information as possible, think it through, talk about it and then make a decision and deal with the unknowns. It is no different now. We look at all the info that is available, discuss it thoroughly, challenge each other if we disagree, make a decision and follow through.

Many years ago, I went to visit the man and his family, the ones who created the hiding place for my father. I asked him a question. I was trying to understand why would he do such a thing. After all, he had risked his own life, his wife’s life, the lives of their three children and possibly the lives of his whole extended family in the village. It seemed to me completely inconceivable. He took his time before he answered, “because it was the right thing to do”.

Yes, currently there are many unknown unknowns but our modus operandi has not changed. We, as always, strive to do the right thing, whether that means taking steps to protect our participants or offer full refunds for our cancelled tours. We also try to see the big picture, keep our wits about us and deal with whatever comes up in a rational way. The coronavirus is a challenge but if you look at the big picture of humanity and the adversity it has overcome, if we all keep our wits about us, soon enough it will be just another virus which humanity has learned to deal with and overcome. We at TDA certainly have no doubts about it. And this one thing is certainly not an unknown fact.

In conclusion, stay well, do your sit ups and push ups, and maybe add in half an hour of meditation. Call those old friends you have not talked to for a long time. Look for that lengthy War and Peace book as now is the time to finally read it but most of all, just remember how great it will be to get back on your bike when, soon enough, that time arrives.

18 Comments for "A Few Thoughts From My Basement"

This is a very fine post; you demonstrate the kind of thoughtful leadership and wisdom we need these days. I, too, think of my mother and her friends who survived the horrors of the Holocaust and emerged triumphant, living their lives to the fullest. My mother passed away last year at 100 years old; to the end she was defiant, acerbic, brash, fighting to the very last moment. Her remaining friends, all in their mid-90s, all survivors, face this current challenge with the same determination and humour. Your post expresses those qualities, qualities that we can learn from and help us through these turbulent times.

Perspective – pure gold Henry. Thankyou –

Wonderful! That’s the way to go: panic doesn’t help, we will get through this when we stay positive!
PS: Despite the dark history of my home country I totally agree: my grand- and great grandparents never complained as much as we do now…at least that is what I got told as I never got the chance to meet them…WWII also took its toll on Germans…

Thanks Henry . That was an amazing piece. You nailed it !!

Jackie Silverberg
Sectional rider 2019
Cairo to cape town

Wise words from a wise man 🙂
THANK YOU!

Another good thought provoking post Henry. Good luck.

Beautifully written Henry.. Thank you.

Inspiring, Henry, as always. Thank you for that!

Love it, perspective matters.

Thanks for this, enjoyed reading this. Turbulent time but so correct to see this in context to tribulations in history.

OMG Henry what a beautiful piece. I read it aloud to Dan amongst the tears and broken voice as I read it. Despite bringing me to tears the optimism and lessons learned are taken to heart. Dan and myself as well as countless numbers of TDA alumni are forever grateful for the opportunity to learn about the world and learn about ourselves. And yes live outside the comfort zone and handle the fear and obstacles. No one would appreciate the sun if it never stormed. Looking forward to sunny days with TDA in the future.

So inspiring Henry. I am your neighbour at 81 Atlas Avenue. After all these years as neighbours, I am in awe as I learn more about you and your journey. Thank you for sharing and continuing to inspire.

Thanks Henry… yes, as others have said it is about keeping our sense of perspective, doing what we can for others and being grateful for the many positives we have. On reflection, having just come off the 2019 NAE, I think I am better able to deal with the current effects of C-19, mentally… the ‘isolation’ on the saddle helps to quiet and focus the mind and this continues through the ‘lockdown’ we find ourselves in. Plus there will be time to sort the photos and make that ‘blog book’ I promised myself! Here is to cycling together again in the not too distant future…

“and that will help me?”: A wonderful phrase that I am now communicating to those in my family and friends who have become depressed and obsessed gorging on the overload of Covid-19-related facts and fiction that have taken over every communication source.

Thanks for providing further sources of light.

Attitude filters down. Now I know why everyone I have ever known at TDA is top notch

Hey Henry
So nice after 50 years to read about you and the exciting things you are doing with your life.
I have good memories of you at OHS especially your competitiveness during gym and intramurals.
Looking forward to see you at the reunion.

    Hi Charles,

    Wow. Great to hear from you. I often wondered what have you been up to. Well let’s hope we can meet in September.

I was very happy to read this. Wise words.
I remember Mira so well and can still hear her in my head.
Stay well as we all fight through this and come out the other side – and we will.

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