Faire des choix plus responsables, un premier pas vers plus de liberté ? | Olivier Peyre | TEDxParis

Translator: Julie Walker
Reviewer: Elisabeth Buffard One year ago, nearly to the day, I crossed the border
from Iran into Turkey, just north of Syria. On my right, Mount Ararat’s immense silhouette rose up. The legend says that Noah’s ark
ran aground there. 5,167 meters Such a cone, for a paraglider like me, was like … a vanilla ice cream cone on a summer afternoon. I had three days. I had very little time on the internet,
but I managed to learn two things. First, conditions were perfect for flying. However, guides were
to be avoided at all costs as they might ask for my access permit, impossible to get on such short notice. I didn’t have it. On the second day of our climb, halfway up the slope, I was sleeping, rolled up in my paragliding wing. It was just before dawn. When suddenly … (Plane noise) (Explosion) Fuck! It’s war! It was just over there. I will freely admit that I quickly ducked behind some rocks. Seven years earlier, on July 11, 2008 at 9:30 in the morning, I began a round-the-world trip by bicycle, an old childhood dream. Anyone here who thinks the world is small, believe me: you’re wrong. It’s enormous! I had planned to take four years. I knew there would be major
repercussions for my life. I had a good job; an aeronautical engineer
under permanent contract. In a way, I killed my career. I had a partner that I loved … my family, friends. I gave it all up. It may seem another
irresponsible, stupid decision, like the one I just described
on Mount Ararat. But in fact, it was undoubtedly,
and I still think so today, the most responsible decision of my life. Basically, what I was looking for, besides seeing the world, was to regain control of my life. I’d lost track of myself a bit. I’d been on the traditional route,
ruled less by personal choices, than by choices imposed on me by society: education, career, family,
material comfort. I never felt as though
these choices had been mine. So, for once, I dared make a decision that would have
an enormous effect on my life. But, then, it became imperative that this decision be
a very responsible one, that I seriously weigh the consequences for my life. But, from such thoughts came others, about the environmental impact. So much so that I decided that my world tour
would be essentially non-motorized. Zero-carbon travel. I would cross the continents on a bicycle, the oceans in a sail boat. And, for a bit of added fun, I would take along my paraglider
to view the world from above. I called this venture, “On the road with a wing.” I had not chosen the easiest route. To increase my chances for success,
I had to be well organized. Yep, I was still an engineer
despite wanting to leave it all behind. My approach was to make
a real business plan. For six months,
I contacted the media, sponsors. I worked on a budget,
the equipment I would need. In short, a real business plan. I love Excel. I had a lot of fun, believe me! (Laughter) Then, I looked into visas, winter in the Andes, in the Himalayas, war zones, to create
the perfect itinerary. I knew that if I made a mistake,
I would suffer the consequences. As an example of my stupidity, one day, I was crossing the Pamirs in Central Asia, and I met a cyclist
just as shaggy and unkempt as me. At the time, this was
really something special! So, we chatted a bit, and then he told me that he also wanted
to use a sail boat to cross the ocean from Asia to America … Whoa! My stomach was in knots! I had to tell him
that that wasn’t really possible. Sail boats follow the trade winds, flowing around the world toward the west. The reverse is very rare. So, he was going to
find himself at the ocean forced to take a plane after he had worked like crazy
to plan a non-motorized voyage! I, too, nearly went east. But, fortunately, a friend came to see me,
shortly before I left, and gave me this crucial information, and I was able to turn around. The cyclist had made
the exact same mistake. When I was behind the rock
on Mount Ararat, being shot at by F-16s, after the explosions ended, I thought it had been a military exercise, I continued toward the summit, where I launched
the next day to fly clear of the prior day’s gunfire zone. I landed safe and sound
and retrieved my bicycle and made it to the first town
where I finally found someone who spoke English. He explained to me that the mountain closed
three months ago, that it was full of PKK rebels, and that the army was shooting on sight
anything that moved. (Laughter) (Applause) I had put my life in serious danger because of ignorance. If I had only been a bit more informed, I would never have made
such irresponsible choices. Because, yes, a lack of information leads
to irresponsible choices and, sometimes, even disasters. However, having made, for the most part,
choices that were informed and responsible, conscious of the consequences, I was able to make my dream a reality
and go even further. Four months later, on December 29, 2015, I crossed the finish line
after 2,723 days, Seven and a half years on the road,
rather than the anticipated four. I’d travelled 105,000 km
through some incredible places. I’d met all kinds of people. I’d been able to see marvellous things. I was happy, and I’d achieved my goal. That’s how it went for me. But, what would happen if it was like that
for each and everyone of us? And what would happen if it was like that for everyone in our country
or on the planet? Can we not imagine a society
that was more conscious, and, therefore, more responsible, and more liberated? Because a world tour,
a lifetime project, or a social plan is like paragliding. They’re all full of limitations and risks
that we’ve chosen ourselves. We do everything we can
to control the consequences. An inaccurate reading of the wind
could mean death or paralysis. But, the take-off is the ultimate instant, the moment of truth, when your choices become
truly accountable, and hugely freeing. So … ready to fly? Thank you. (Applause)

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