I’m in Tehran, on the back of a motorcycle being driven by a random guy off the street who speaks no English. We are in a dedicated bus lane passing one bus as another heads straight for us. I yell to my friend behind me (did I mention there are three of us on the bike?), “I hope he knows what he’s doing!”
I think back to a recent talk I heard by Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines. He said, “We are all afraid to die. It’s in our DNA. But we should not be afraid to live.” As the bus closes in on us, I think, maybe I’m pushing this living boldly thing too far.
Obviously, we survived. It was one of those uncomfortable moments that becomes a good story once you get back home.
I think a lot about fear and how it affects us. Our judgment, not our fears, should rule our actions. Some of my friends thought I shouldn’t go to Iran. If I had told them I was going to get on a motorcycle, they might have had a good case. But Iran is actually quite safe. Our governments don’t agree on a lot, but that doesn’t make visiting the country dangerous. When governments are at odds, I believe it’s even more important to get to know a place and its people.
Tehran was fascinating, and full of interesting, curious people. I might not get on that motorcycle again, but I would definitely go back to Tehran.
We each have to make decisions about what we’re going to fear. But if we only do what’s comfortable, then what is life?
This is the day I arrived in Tehran. My host, Rooz, told me that motorcycle taxis—which are definitely not ‘official” taxis—are the best way to beat the traffic. Fortunately, the driver you see here was very tame. The bus lane incident I refer to above happened two days later with a much younger driver, who drove like we were in a video game.
>>Next: An American in Iran: Why You Should Go and What You Need to Know