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Every single person is a temple, carrying a sacred fire within. When you combine your passion with self-discipline, you can wield the power of your sacred fire. 

Every single person is like a temple, carrying a sacred fire within.

Do you have a purpose, something you strongly believe in, something you want with a burning desire?  When you combine your passion with self-discipline, you can wield the power of your sacred fire. 

This sacred fire is one of the secrets of the ancient Mediterranean.

A long time ago, a traveler named Aeneas carried the sacred fire of Vesta, as he crisscrossed the Mediterranean sea, looking for his final destiny. 

Roman coin showing Temple of Vesta
Temple of Vesta on Roman coin

Vesta became one of the most important gods of ancient Rome. Most of the Greek and Roman gods are depicted as people, but Vesta is more obscure.

A few rare statues and engravings show Vesta as a woman, usually veiled and with very little detail. Instead, she’s almost always represented as a fire. 

Fire was often a violent, destructive force, but Vesta was the goddess of hearth and home. She was the benevolent side of fire, the energy that cooks our food, the source of light and warmth. 

Vesta was also described as “the fire of Earth,” or “fire of life.” Vesta was the life force, the energy of life itself. Vesta was a symbol of power, energy, passion--but all of these things contained and controlled. 

Aeneas carried Vesta’s sacred fire relics across the sea, seeking a place for them to take root. She was the fire that fueled his mission and destiny. 

In fact, the whole story of Aeneas begins with fire. The city of Troy was burning. 

You’ve heard the story of the wooden horse. It was the end of the Trojan War, but this was just the beginning of a new story for Aeneas. 

Aeneas escaped from the fallen city, and led his family and a large group of survivors on a journey around the Mediterranean. 

Eventually they made their way to central Italy. Aeneas married the princess of a local tribe, and their descendants were Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

The Roman poet Virgil tells the story in the Aeneid. It’s similar to the Odyssey, covers a lot of the same ground, and takes place at roughly the same time. (It’s surprising that Aeneas and Ulysses never ran into each other. I’m a little disappointed about that.)

All through his journey, Aeneas carried the religious relics of Troy, especially the pieces belonging to Vesta.

There’s an important story in the Aeneid, which is related to Vesta and very relevant to the current state of the world.

At one point, Aeneas and his people were shipwrecked near Carthage, in modern day Tunisia. The travelers were fed and clothed by the generosity of Dido, the queen of Carthage.

Dido was an extraordinary woman, and there’s evidence that she wasn’t merely a mythological character. Carthage prospered for centuries thanks to Dido, and her life was filled with clever and heroic deeds. 

But she was about to meet her doom.

The goddess Venus (or Aphrodite if you prefer) set Dido's heart on fire. She afflicted Dido with an insatiable love for Aeneas. For a while the feelings were reciprocated, but Aeneas eventually sailed off to find Italy. 

When he left, Dido lit her own funeral pyre, stepped into the flames, and stabbed herself. The fire that consumed her body was the beginning of centuries of war.

Carthage would have her revenge. Many generations later, the Carthaginian general Hannibal would invade Italy and bring Rome to her knees for two decades.

Rome would return the favor by conquering Carthage, slaughtering her citizens, demolishing the city down to the last brick, and covering the land with salt so nothing would ever grow there again.

This story shows the violent, destructive side of passion. The internal fire that goes unchecked.

This fire has never stopped burning. The Mediterranean has been torn apart by centuries of violence. 

Religious passion, the sacred flame that should make people love one another and perform deeds of kindness, has exploded into a conflagration. It goes back to biblical times, burns through the Crusades, and continues today in conflicts between Jews and Palestinians, Shi’i and Sunni, Bosnians and Serbs, Greeks and Turks…

I often think about what it would take for us to hold the sacred fire in our hearts again, and turn it away from destruction. 

Justice would be the obvious answer, but we can never seem to agree on what that  means.

Understanding, compassion, and forgiveness are harder to imagine, but they are easier to reach.

I’m writing this on a cold morning in February. My fingers are numb, but there’s a fire burning inside of me. I want to learn and have new adventures and experiences. I want to bring other people together to do the same. 

Travel and learning are two bright lamps than can light a pathway out of the flames.

This is my sacred fire. What is yours?

Once you've been outside your comfort zone for a while, you'll start to question things that you always accepted. You'll have a new perspective on old problems. 

This is serious.

Almost everyone feels inadequate in at least one aspect of their life. And this can cause you to settle for less than you want or deserve in those areas--your health, your relationships, your economic status...

I've heard that 85% of the world's population are affected by low self esteem.

Traveling was the thing that turned my confidence around, and changed my life. I just deleted 11 examples of how this happened, because it really comes down to three important things.

People treat you differently when you travel

When you're visiting a new country, you'll meet people who are proud of their home and want to show it off. They will often be very interested in you, too.

They'll tell you stories, show you where to get the best food, and help you learn their language and customs.

Pretty soon you'll naturally expect everyone to treat you with kindness and respect. And when you go into a new situation with this expectation, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

You will be tested, and discover strengths you didn't know you had

When you put yourself in new environments and new situations, things will go wrong. You will lose your phone or miss a train. You will end up somewhere you didn't mean to go.

You'll be forced to be creative and resourceful as you get yourself out of this mess--and you will manage to pull it off.

You'll come away feeling rightfully proud of yourself, and you'll start to wonder what else you're capable of doing.

You will come back with new giftsMediterranean ruins

When you travel, you'll pick up new languages, new knowledge, and new skills. (I can field strip a katana, replace bicycle spokes using a large rock and two bottlecaps, and make you the best cappuccino in Los Angeles).

Most people will quickly tire of your pictures and your stories, but don't take it personally.

Once you've been outside your comfort zone for a while, you'll start to question things that you always accepted. You'll have a new perspective on old problems.

You'll see a lot of improvements in yourself, and soon you'll be thinking about how to improve the world.

Find out for yourself.

Starting in 2022, I'm going to organize at least one mass bike touring event in the Mediterranean each year until I'm too old to ride.

In the spring of 2022, we're going to follow the Via Appia in one direction, then cross the Adriatic sea and tour the Balkans.

I'm officially inviting you to join me for the whole ride or any part of it, or to follow along virtually.

While we ride out the pandemic in 2021, I'm going to help you prepare for the first ride. I'll teach you ways to pay for your trip, how to get physically in shape for the ride, along with the history, philosophy, and cultures of the places we'll visit.

I'm talking about this weekly on a Facebook page, where I'll be speaking live every Wednesday at 5 pm Pacific time. You can join me and ask questions here:



You are going to have a fun, challenging, and enlightening adventure. You could get in better physical shape, and you'll probably pick up skills that will improve every aspect of your life. That's how the journey will change you.

This weekend I had a "Beneventum Moment."

You'll find out what that means later, but here's what it means now, for you.

By the end of 2021, I'm going to prepare at least 1,000 people to do a bike tour around the Mediterranean. In 2022, we'll make the journey.

Whether you participate in some or all of the ride, and whether you do it virtually or in person, this could be a life-transforming experience, and I'm hoping it will change the world.

You are going to have a fun, challenging, and enlightening adventure. You could get in better physical shape, and you'll probably pick up skills that will improve every aspect of your life. That's how the journey will change you.

Here's how this could change the world.

The Mediterranean was the cradle of several major religions and influential civilizations. There are very few places in the world that haven't been influenced or impacted by at least one of the major belief systems that came out of the Mediterranean.

The trouble is, many of the best ideals have become the basis for wars and conflicts. East vs. West. Israelis vs. Arabs. The list goes on.

But what would happen if we all took the time to travel together, eat together, share our cultures and learn from each other instead?

I have a vision of thousands of people traveling together through multiple countries on bicycles. Thousands more joining us virtually, possibly as they do parallel rides in their own countries.

Along the way, we'll stop to do volunteer work and for educational experiences. It's a chance to bring the whole world together over something fun and beautiful. It might make a difference.

Keep in touch if you want to be a part of this!