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Daniel Troia is a fellow cycling enthusiast and documentarian whose journey into bike touring has taken him on remarkable adventures across the globe.

Daniel shares the spirit of curiosity and exploration that fuels his adventures, as well as the personal growth, resilience, and deepened sense of empathy he has developed through challenging experiences like biking unsupported across the country.

We also learn about Daniel’s documentary film project, which allowed him to process a seven-month bike tour through storytelling and gave him a new appreciation for the kindness of strangers.

I hope you enjoy learning about Daniel’s journey of self-discovery and how his passion for cycling continues to shape his outlook on life.

Bike Touring Across America

When Daniel Troia set off on a cross country bike tour across the United States, he had packed light. In fact, he traversed 7,000 miles with no money, and no food. In this episode, he shares stories of long-distance bike touring, the transformative power of human connection, and the profound lessons he’s learned along the way.

Daniel details his decision to bike unsupported across the United States with no provisions, relying entirely on the kindness of strangers. He chronicled his experience in his latest film, “We Are All In This Together,” which is now streaming.

Finding Humanity Through Bike Touring

Creating a documentary film about his journey helped him process the experience and find deeper meaning. Through Daniel’s lens, listeners gain insights into the power of curiosity, resilience, and empathy. Prepare to be inspired to embrace life’s challenges with courage and compassion.

We delved into the origins of outcome-focused behavior, tracing its roots back to childhood experiences and the development of overcompensation as a coping mechanism. It was eye-opening to explore the delicate balance between striving for greatness and the toll it can take on various facets of our lives.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Long-distance bike touring can foster personal growth through new experiences that build resilience, curiosity, and a willingness to embrace discomfort.
  • Acts of kindness from strangers, even small gestures, can profoundly impact those in need and make a positive difference in challenging times
  • Documenting and creatively processing difficult life experiences through storytelling can aid in finding meaning and acceptance.
  • How living with uncertainty and vulnerability can cultivate empathy, compassion, and appreciation for community
  • The power of just one single connection

Listen to Daniel Troia’s episode on the power of bike touring

If you found today’s episode enlightening and want to hear more, make sure to subscribe and leave a review on your favorite podcast platform. Be sure to share this episode!

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– Daniel’s film We Are All In This Together
– Follow Daniel to watch his stories
– Living with Gratitude with Adventurer Ryan van Duzer
– Listen to stories about bikepacking with Jerry Kopak

Episode Chapters

  • Perfectionism, self-criticism, and goal-setting. (0:00)
  • The origins and trade-offs of outcome-focused behavior. (5:00)
  • Self-compassion and its impact on goal setting and motivation. (7:20)
  • Self-criticism types and their impact on mental health. (11:48)
  • Compassion and its role in overcoming setbacks. (22:14)
  • Friendship blocks and vulnerability. (33:27)
  • Parenting, relationships, and shame. (39:16)
  • Compassion in relationships and parenting. (47:06)
  • Gratitude and compassion in relationships. (53:13)

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Transcript: Daniel Troia

Sonya Looney 0:01
The countdown is on. And now here we are. Exactly. So Daniel, welcome to the show.

Daniel Troia 0:06
Super happy to be here. Yeah, it’s honored to be speaking with you.

Sonya Looney 0:10
Now, this is super cool. I really enjoyed getting to learn about you and your spirit. And I must say that, you know, I listened to several podcasts that you were on as well, and your positivity and just charisma can be felt through audio. So that is a gift.

Daniel Troia 0:26
Oh, I really appreciate you saying that. Yeah, the feeling’s mutual to you know, we were just speaking before we started recording, I was looking for a podcast about how to age gracefully. And that’s why I came across your podcast.

Sonya Looney 0:37
Well, we’re on a journey, right? Hopefully, I actually, it’s funny, you said you’re a physical therapist, and I’ve taken it upon myself to work on things outside of cycling. So I think cyclists can get very focused on only riding their bike. And I’ve discovered some very interesting imbalances and issues that I’m very encouraged, that are gonna help me age gracefully. Love

Daniel Troia 1:00
to hear that. Yeah, love to hear that it you know, it’s a blessing working in a physical therapy clinic, because I see people who do take care of themselves. And you know, there was a, there’s a patient a couple days ago, who’s 95 years old, who’s just stayed active. And he’s still doing free weight squats with perfect form. And he has just such a youthful energy and motivation and drive for life. And that’s the goal right there. You know?

Sonya Looney 1:22
Yeah, you so you just said motivational youth energy and drive for life? And it seems like you have that. And something that I’ve heard through a lot of the things that you’ve said, is that you have a spirit of curiosity and exploration. So when did that all? When did you realize that you had that spirit? Or have you always known that you’ve had that spirit?

Daniel Troia 1:39
I appreciate you saying that? Yeah, I think it’s always been there as a kid. I mean, I remember I pretty much grew up in the forest. I mean, anytime I had some free time, my parents would just say, go go in the forest. And that’s from a very young age, I had the the opportunity to start really exploring that curiosity and climbing trees and using my imagination and being active. I mean, using my body is that’s where I feel most at home. It’s just moving. And I think that we’re I think we’re meant to move as human beings, you know, and as we get older, it seems like for whatever reason, you know, society claims that, oh, you can’t do that you’re too old for that. But I really don’t believe that I believe that we we need to continue moving and continue exploring that curiosity, because that’s what keeps you engaged in life. Yeah,

Sonya Looney 2:23
and then, you know, someone might have curiosity and interest and want to explore something, but they might not have the belief in their ability to go after that thing, or, or to actually take action on it. So have you taken action on that curiosity over the years? And what has given you the courage to do so? Yeah,

Daniel Troia 2:40
so the first thing is, is I look around at people I know, I mean, I remember being 25 years old, and I was in Amsterdam, and I met this girl who was riding her bike, her bicycle across Europe alone. And busking for money playing music for money. That’s how she was funding her trip. And I went up to her afterwards. I’m like, sweet, where did you start? And she’s like, I started in Turkey. And we were all the way in the Netherlands, you know, Northern Europe. And I said, Wait, you can just ride your bike across Europe? And she said, so simple. She said, Yeah, just go and do it. And it was meeting people like her who totally changed my perspective at life to where she wasn’t some elite athlete, right. She just believed in what she was doing. Right and took it day by day. And I think that sometimes, I know myself, sometimes I struggle with self doubt. And I may think, Oh, I won’t be any good at that. But I haven’t even tried it yet. Right. And I think it’s important to turn off that part of the brain that says no, and instead, like, really believe, like, I may not be there right now as far as my goal. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t get there eventually. I

Sonya Looney 3:42
love that. I think that a lot of times people are afraid of failing or something bad happening. So they don’t even try. And they make up all those stories as to why they can’t do it. And then they never do it. And then they they always wish that they did. Absolutely.

Daniel Troia 3:54
That’s that’s so true. And I know myself, I’ve done that with certain things. And I look back and that’s something now that really drives me and tries to keep me interested in life. Because I My biggest fear, I think is being you know, on my deathbed and thinking about all the things I could have done or should have tried at least right. And so I think about that often and also just working in physical therapy, I speak to a lot of patients who are older than me, and I asked them, you know, what, what would they change about their life and a lot of times it’s they talk about they would have used their body more, is something that I find really fascinating. That

Sonya Looney 4:26
is interesting. I’d say for me, one of my biggest fears is just stagnation and, or even like losing the spirit of wanting to explore, like, what would happen if that got taken away from you?

Daniel Troia 4:38
Yeah, that’s it’s pretty scary to think about that. Yeah. And I think if we can remind ourselves just how much of a blessing like each day is, like truly just to be alive on this planet, and especially living in a place like the US where we have so many opportunities. And I try to remind myself that often because eventually there’ll be a time in my life where I may not be able to do these things. So it’s important to you To use your body while you can and think about how much of a blessing it is to be alive.

Sonya Looney 5:03
So I want to get into your, I’m cheekily saying this, you’re out and back in the US. Just Just a short out and back. Something you said, on another podcast, I was listening to, as you said that when you’re on your bike, you tap into a different spirit. Can you talk about that? Yeah,

Daniel Troia 5:20
for sure. I think I think what, what, what, what really drives that is just the pedaling the steady rhythm of just moving the pedals, that that stimulates my brain, and increases my blood flow, my circulation, and then it makes me way more interested in the world around me. And I think it’s a combination of things, I think it’s, you’re, you’re getting that oxygen, which is stimulating your brain and then you’re you’re smelling, you’re smelling the air you’re going through, you’re way more stimulated, because you’re seeing different parts of the of the cities that you might not be able to really see when you’re in a car. And and also, I think that you’re interacting with people, because when you’re when you’re traveling by bike, I think that sometimes there’s this curiosity that people see. And they’re wondering, who is this person? And what’s their story? Kind of like how what when I met that girl in Amsterdam, you know, and she was biking across Europe. And so yeah, being on the bike, it just opens up so many possibilities. And honestly, it just drives my imagination, and it fuels the child within me.

Sonya Looney 6:15
I can relate with that. Like, I feel like I’m a different person, when I’m on my bike, I’m a more primal version of myself, and I am more myself than I am anywhere else. And I think you’re right, I think it has to do with engaging all the senses and being alive because you’re engaging all the senses. Yeah, I

Daniel Troia 6:31
agree with you, Sonya. And also, I would love your opinion on this. Because I know that sometimes if I’m struggling, just like mentally, if I have, you know, maybe I’m stressed out for a week, or I’m anxious or depressed. For me, like, exercise is truly medicine. And so when I jump on my bike, it’s like, it gives me this clarity. And it snaps me out of that mindset that I was in for, you know, just constantly thinking about the same thing. And all of a sudden, without even trying to think about it. I just it seems like often I solved the problem. And I’m wondering if you have something similar? Yeah,

Sonya Looney 7:02
I definitely experienced more creativity on my bike and a better mood, but sometimes not honestly, because there can be a lot of pressure you put on yourself. You know, like, for me, I’m like training for races, I need to be, you know, feeling a certain way. And that can become not fun anymore. And I’ve been racing for over 20 years now. And I actually attribute that to being able to take away the evaluative perspective on every single ride, like How well am I doing, and just try to come back into why I’m doing it in the first place. Yes, and also, doing a different sport sometimes has been a way to just stay mentally fresh. So I just wanted to braise kind of the dark side of the sport that you know, people might not really think about or talk about,

Daniel Troia 7:45
that’s a really great point, especially if you’re training for something that can see how there can be a sense of pressure that you’re feeling on it.

Sonya Looney 7:50
actually wanted to ask you about this. So I was on my ride, of course, when I thought of this. So you know, in the racing culture, there’s the self comparison thing of like, or even if you’re not racing, you’re just out, it’s like, well, that person is faster than me on the downhill. That person is better than me. That person has more skills that person’s riding farther in, in the bike packing cycle touring world, is there this self comparison in that way? Or like because like, I’ve heard stories where you know, you guys come up on each other you like, hey, let’s ride together. And in some cultures, people do that as like, you know, recreational riders. But sometimes people are weird, and they don’t want to talk to you. They don’t want to wave back because there’s this like fear. So I just wanted to know, what the what the bike touring world is like. Yeah,

Daniel Troia 8:31
I think that there is a percentage of the bike touring world where the firt was soon as you meet somebody who was on a tour. The first question they asked you, well, how many miles you ride today? How many Robins Have you been? How many miles you’ve been riding in general, you know, and there’s just so I definitely can see that pressure. And I used to kind of give into that in some ways. And I would, I would start comparing myself and feel self conscious. Because when I ride, I ride slow, because I’m trying to take in all my surroundings. And sometimes I’ll stop at a town and talk to somebody for two hours or something. And I remember there has been times for sure where I was thinking, am I not getting the best out of this experience? Because I’m not like really, really pushing myself to the extreme, you know, and there were certain days when I arrived over like bigger mountain passes and stuff, but I definitely can see that pressure from the bike touring community, where there is like a sense of comparison.

Sonya Looney 9:16
Yeah, so I’m just raising this also because I think that we forget why we do something in the first place. And this like metric, like how many miles you rode, you know how fast you are? Like all that becomes the metric instead of why you’re doing it in the first place. Yeah. And I love whenever you say, I’ve stopped and I go talk to people and I go see things because that’s like you’re doing it for the adventurer. I mean, certainly maybe some people are doing it to see how many miles they can ride in a day. But you do miss out on part of the adventure if you’re only focused on one thing. Yeah,

Daniel Troia 9:46
totally. I agree with you. I remember my first bike, my bike, my first bike tour, I um, I was trying to get to New York as quick as I could, and I was this is like, like 12 years ago or something, you know, and I look back on the experience and I remember thinking, Man, there was So many opportunities. You know, sometimes I’ve come across a town that was having like, the annual festival in a town of 500 people. And I would, instead of stopping and kind of checking out this small town in Kansas, I would just keep writing. And those are the moments I look back on and think, I wish I could have gone back and just connected with the community in that way. Because it for me, in the end, like these these travel experiences, it’s about the people that I meet and the experience that happen while I’m on the bike, not necessarily all about riding my bike. So

Sonya Looney 10:27
you’ve done lots of different Bike Adventures, you’ve done adventures in Europe, you’ve done adventures in the US have you done adventures in other countries or other continents that I’m missing.

Daniel Troia 10:36
So far, it’s just been the US and Europe. But my next big bike tour, I want to ride from California down to down to Argentina. That’s the next one. I want to I’m so excited. I’ve been watching a lot of people on social media, and I’m following this one girl who’s like 25. She’s doing it by herself from from Canada, all the way to Argentina. She’s unbelievable.

Sonya Looney 10:55
I met a guy. He he was riding from Alaska to Argentina. And he met a woman on the way and now that woman is his wife, and they live in Argentina. That’s

Daniel Troia 11:03
amazing. I love hearing those kinds of stories.

Sonya Looney 11:06
So you mentioned curiosity and how people ask you about about your bike or about your stuff. I grew up in the US. And then I moved to Canada about 10 years ago. And the level of curiosity where people ask you a question out of the blue is really different. In the US people are way more curious and likely to ask you so I’m wondering in Europe, are people is curious. They’re asking you questions about your bike as they are in the US?

Daniel Troia 11:33
Yeah, for sure. In Europe, specifically with my experience, because this, like I wrote across Europe last summer, and for example, I was literally just going from town to town and asking like, what’s, what’s the best roads that I can take? Right. And a lot of the times, I was I was going into like, you know, Italian farmland, for example. And like, I’d ride into this town where, you know, these farmers are thinking like, what is this random American guy doing like in our town, you know? So there definitely was a lot of curiosity, because I was off like, the main bike touring routes. And so that Yeah, and that happened across the whole the whole experience last summer, I was definitely attracting a lot of curiosity from people. So

Sonya Looney 12:10
let’s, let’s dive into your adventure and your documentary film. We’re all in this together, I highly encourage everybody to watch that. And where can people find it?

Daniel Troia 12:18
Thank you for asking. Yeah, so it’s on Amazon Prime, it’s on Apple TV and Google Play. So

Sonya Looney 12:26
what inspired you to do this because you’ve done multiple adventures before?

Daniel Troia 12:31
Yeah. So you know, a couple of years ago, I really started to feel like the tension in Division in America. And honestly, it was really bothering me, it was eating me away. I really don’t like the fact that we, it feels like we’re so divided. And around that time, I had a friend that gave me a book called the kindness of strangers. And it was about a guy who, in the mid 1990s, he rode his bike, or he, he hitchhiked from things from San Francisco, all the way across the country to New York City. And he did it without bringing any food or money with him. And yeah, the whole book was about just the people that he met and the kindness that he experienced. And after reading that book, I felt so inspired. And I felt like, Man, I would love to create something like this. But I think it’d be cool to do it on a bike because I love riding my bike. And you know, and also the fact that when you’re on a bike tour, as I mentioned, you really get a chance to go through the communities and meet the people. And so, and in some ways, you know, Sonya, like, it was a way of protesting also, because I really, I wanted to show that we’re not nearly as divided, as you know, like new stations and things like that try to make it seem. And so yeah, I decided to leave with no food or money from from California, and I had the goal of getting to New York City. And I really wanted to create a project that showed you know, kindness, compassion and, and togetherness. And that was that was the goal of making this project.

Sonya Looney 13:54
And did you say that you did it without any food or money in your? Yeah,

Daniel Troia 13:58
so I left without bringing any food or money with me. And I had a hidden camera glasses and a sign that said a bike and across country ran out of food, anything helps. And I was standing in front of grocery stores. And if I was fortunate to receive help from somebody, I’d ask them with my with my camera glasses on, I’d say do you have a story about when somebody helped you, and you really needed it. And I started collecting stories about, you know, hardships that people faced and kindness that they’d experienced in their lives. And the reason I use the camera glasses was because I really wanted to capture like genuine, real moments that I was having with these interactions.

Sonya Looney 14:33
Yeah, and whenever you ask a question like that the presence that you have to have with somebody the way that you listen to them, the way that you hold what they’re telling you that that’s also challenging, and you were doing that day after day after day.

Daniel Troia 14:48
Yeah, that’s a really you know, that’s, no one’s ever brought that up. You know, Sonya, but it’s really interesting that you mentioned that there because there were certain moments I noticed like people would share very vulnerable moments. I mean, for example, when I was in Illinois, Oh boy, you know, I was speaking to a lady and she gave me some food. And I said, Thank you, what’s your name? And she said, my name is Jean. She said, What’s your name? I said, my name is Daniel. And within one second, she started to cry. And she said, Oh, my, I had a son named Daniel, and he just died six months ago. And she started sharing this super vulnerable story with me. And it was really amazing to connect with a complete stranger like that. And within a couple of seconds, and that was something I didn’t expect going into this journey. You know, I honestly

Sonya Looney 15:30
think that’s what people are craving. You know, we’re in a huge set with the word pandemic, epidemic, loneliness epidemic. And I think part of that is that we lack the intimacy in relationships that we’re craving, and everybody is just acquaintances, and we want to feel seen, and we want to feel known. So what a gift that you gave those people in that moment to feel seen and known, and they were doing the same for you. Yeah,

Daniel Troia 15:54
thank you for saying that. And I exactly, I feel like I received the same as well, especially as you know, the longer I was on the road, you know, my appearance started to change. And I started to get like a long, scraggly beard, and I was starting to get judged more based on my appearance, I was receiving a lot less help. And so when somebody would stop, and you know, maybe share a conversation with me, it just started means so much more to me. And I was so grateful for that. And I totally agree with you, I think something that’s pretty overlooked is the fact that like, it just seems like we aren’t gathering as much as we used to. And I think that’s such an important part of overall happiness. And to feel a sense of community is so important for our not just our, you know, mental health app for that for everything. It’s so incredibly important. And I think that’s part of the reason why it seems like, you know, it seems like we’re not having those small micro conversations, like we used to have when we are in grocery stores, or standing in line at the bank. And I think that’s really important to continue having those connections with with strangers. I

Sonya Looney 16:49
think an underlying current here is it’s like humbleness and not being as concerned about shame, because I especially when it asked you this, because you decided I’m you know, I’m gonna go out on this adventure without food or money, I’m gonna basically beg and be resourceful, which we can talk about in a minute. But sitting there with a sign, I’m sure that took an immense amount of humbleness and did like, did you experience feelings of shame doing that? Or were you just like, oh, no, I’m, this is fine.

Daniel Troia 17:15
Yeah. So on, you know, what’s interesting is I saw I was on the road for seven months, and it was I covered like, 7000 miles, and there wasn’t after even after seven months, I never got accustomed to the uncomfortable feeling of holding a sign and, and, and panhandling, you know, in the shame, the shame and the guilt that I felt. And you know, I was fortunate to, I chose to do this, and I could have stopped at any time, but even then, I still felt so much shame about being out there. And something I also didn’t expect was just some of the looks and the things that when people would say to me, when I was standing out there, I didn’t expect to kind of get harassed and that way, and it made me think about people who don’t have a choice, you know, who were out there on the streets, and how often they experienced that. And, and again, I didn’t believe some of the things that people were saying to me, but it really started to have an effect on my mental health. I mean, I started to just feel pretty depressed about it. And again, that’s why what was beautiful, though, is some of the people that I didn’t meet, you know, when I was going through challenging times, the people who showed up into my life, they were, they were so important to me, and they literally changed my life. Because when I was having those rough days, if somebody did show up, you know, it made me think about, oh, my gosh, they made me feel so much better. And the cool thing is, is now I can be that person, you know, that’s what I’ve been thinking about since I’ve been back home is, and it doesn’t cost any money, like we can be that person, to our co workers, to our neighbors, to someone you know, at the bank, at the grocery store, we can just be kind to someone and may not seem like much in the moment, but it can literally change someone’s life.

Sonya Looney 18:44
Wow, that’s amazing. I also wanted to ask you, you know, a lot of times when people are out and about, they’ll see people panhandling, and they’ll look away, or they feel uncomfortable. Yeah. Something I’ve been working on is making eye contact and saying hello, how’s your day going? And I feel uncomfortable doing that, and I feel ashamed that I even feel uncomfortable. And then I don’t even know, you know, what, what should I give this person? If anything? Because if they’re if they’re, you know, just going to spend it on drugs, you know, Is that Is that okay? To give them money? Or, you know, so like, What is your opinion of that after having lived this experience? Yeah, well,

Daniel Troia 19:21
I’m really happy to hear that you least tried to make eye contact and maybe say hello, I mean, because for me still to this day, when I when I walk past someone who’s holding a sign or if I’m at a stoplight and someone’s willing to sign I still feel uncomfortable, even though I did it for seven months myself and what I learned from the people was even if somebody didn’t have any food or money to give to me if someone just kind of smiled or just kind of gave me a head nod and said Have a nice day like that really made me feel better. And again, that doesn’t cost any any money to do that to somebody you know, and the other thing too is if if you do feel like you want to help in some ways, but you’re concerned about you know, maybe what they’re going to spend the money on what was helpful to me He is sometimes somebody would say, Hey, I’m going into the store, like, what do you need? Because sometimes I needed sunscreen, or I needed like some toothpaste or you know. So there are certain things that people need that doesn’t have to be with food or money. So I think that’s something that we can do as well.

Sonya Looney 20:13
Something else I was, I was wondering is the question that you chose to ask people? How did you decide on that question, specifically, because there’s so many different things you could have asked,

Daniel Troia 20:23
you know, it’s really funny song is this, because this whole experience, I hardly had any experience with filmmaking. Before I left, I really didn’t have know what I was doing. When I left, I just know, I wanted to create, you know, some kind of project about compassion and kindness. And when, when I received the help from the very first person, he gave me a couple of dollars, and I thought, what I do now, so the first thing that came to my mind was, Hey, man, do you have a story about when somebody helped you, and you needed it, it was very casual. But that’s kind of the whole evolution, this project, it was kind of going with the flow, you know, and just kind of feeling it out and letting it evolve. And that it’s kind of interesting, the person who the first person who helped me, he ended up foreshadowing the whole experience for me, because he said, You know, there’s a quote that I live by, he said, I don’t give because I have a lot. He said, I give because I know what it’s like to have absolutely nothing. And what was really fascinating is as time went on, and I started going into different impoverished neighborhoods and things like that, I noticed that the people who struggled the most in their lives, they were the usually the people who had the most to give. So it’s really interesting how everything kind of just evolved. And I went with my gut feeling, I think that’s something that’s so important in life is to really listen to your gut, because I think that’s speaks truer than anything else.

Sonya Looney 21:37
Now, it’s really interesting to hear about the people in the impoverished neighborhoods are the ones that gave the most because I think a lot of us, you know, are fortunate and affluent, and we think, Well, I don’t have anything to give, I can’t give anything. Yeah. And when you think about people that have way less than you that are so generously giving, because of empathy, that’s such a powerful and inspiring message. It

Daniel Troia 21:58
really is. Yeah. And you know, I was so fortunate to meet somebody, like on the note, you just said, I mean, I met a man named shorty in Dayton, Ohio. And, you know, he gave me a couple of dollars. And I asked him, Do you have a story about when somebody helps you? And he said, he said, Well, right now he’s like, I’m homeless, I’m jobless. But but God got me he said, sometimes, you know, it’s not to our understanding, but there’s a bigger plan for your life. He said, he said, ups and downs, he said, Keep on smiling, and we got to keep helping each other out. And it was so inspiring meeting someone like that, because kind of what you just said is, this guy was literally homeless and jobless, but he still shared a couple dollars with me. And it made me think about how much I have in my life. And I’ve always, you know, I had no idea how much I truly have.

Sonya Looney 22:40
I think about just, you’re changing people’s perspective, you’ve shifted your own perspective, through these adventures, I think back to some of the most important races that I’ve done, and they’ve been in, you know, developing countries where they don’t have garbage pickup, and there is no warm shower for you to take. And, you know, you’re lucky if you get enough food, like those types of things. And it’s a place of privilege to say that, because it was our people’s lives, like, like you said earlier, but it also gives you an immense amount of gratitude, just for what you have and where you’ve been born. And like, what do you think people do to need to? Or what do you think people need to do to shift that perspective without having to do something like ride your bike, you know, across the country, back and forth? You know, or go to like a race in a developing country? Yeah, yeah.

Daniel Troia 23:26
You know, you know, Sonya, I truly believe that some of the best experiences that we have in life lessons come from, from the hardest times in our life. And I really believe that because I think that sometimes it can give you a level of compassion, or understanding that you weren’t able to get to, without going through that experience. I mean, I think all of us at some point, have lost a loved one, you know, and it makes me think about this woman I met in Kansas City, you know, and she flagged me down and was interested in my story as I was going across the country. And I asked her, like, she gave me a place to stay. And I said, Why, like, what made you want to be so kind and give me a place to stay? And she said, You know, I saw you and it made me think about my husband, and his dream was to bike across America, and he died at 40 years old before he was able to do it. And, and I’m bringing up that story, because again, I think that if she didn’t go through that hardship, and that pain, in that, you know, in that loss of losing a loved one, then she wouldn’t have been able to tap into that kind of compassion and wanted to help somebody. So I think that for me, personally, I think that you know, going through the hard times where we truly learn the most and can grow in have better understanding of compassion and kindness and hardships.

Sonya Looney 24:37
I’m doing a master’s right now in applied positive psychology. So it’s the science of well being so i It’s funny, I hear everything and I’m like, decoding, like analyzing, you know, the psychological science behind everything. So it’s hard for me to hold back and I think I’m doing okay with that. But what you just said is like, post traumatic growth and what that is is like a trauma happens. And after the trauma, the person is actually at a higher low level of functioning and well being than they were before the trauma actually happened. And it’s so interesting that that help happens for some people and not for others. That’s

Daniel Troia 25:07
really fascinating that you say that yeah, and I do think it can go either way. Because we can also look at the world in a very angry way, after we experienced some of these things, especially some really traumatic, you know, and I can speak from personal experiences. I remember after I lost my mother, I lost she, my mother passed away when I was like, in my early 20s, and I remember, I worked in a restaurant and I was, you know, as grieving and, and then I just saw the sudden had this desire to start taking the extra food that I had in the restaurant that was being thrown away, I started taking it to homeless people, right. And I think that, in some ways, that was a coping mechanism. And I realized that I wouldn’t have been doing that if I wasn’t hurting. And I think that by going through that pain, it made me want to do something kind for somebody. And in some ways, maybe there was a sense of selfishness in it, because it was going to make me feel better. But I think that’s, that’s totally fine, though. If you’re, if you’re doing it for maybe to make yourself feel better, but you’re also helping someone at the same time. And, you know, whatever works, I think,

Sonya Looney 26:02
yeah, I think that pain can turn into purpose.

Daniel Troia 26:05
Yeah. Well said, yeah. Well said, I like that phrase.

Sonya Looney 26:09
So you’re just talking about food. Like, let’s get back to your adventure, like, tell people where you are getting food?

Daniel Troia 26:15
Yeah. So before I left, one of the reasons why I felt confident leaving on this journey was because I read a book by an environmental activist who he biked across the country, and he talked about how he was coming along a lot of food that was being thrown away in dumpsters. So I thought, okay, that’s, that’s gonna be always an option, right. And once I left, I had no idea how much food was actually being thrown away in dumpsters. I mean, every morning, I would stop behind a local grocery store. And I’m talking dumpsters full of food. And and I mean, like good food, like fresh strawberries, bananas, apples, bagels, yogurt. I came across pasta. I came across steaks a couple of times, there was ice cream. It was unbelievable. And it’s sometimes you know, when I was because panhandling was uncomfortable. I would just prefer to dumpster dive and I had no idea that I’d be able to get that much food.

Sonya Looney 27:08
Yeah, I had this guy on my podcast was a couple years ago, but he’s the executive director of Project drawdown. And they’re a nonprofit organization, helping educate people on climate change. And there’s all these different sectors. And he said that the number one most problematic thing is food waste. And you just people just don’t even think about that. And I I’ve never thought about how much food might be wasted. Like I’m thinking like restaurants, I’m not even thinking grocery stores. Yeah,

Daniel Troia 27:34
restaurants is a whole nother issue. I mean, I remember working in a restaurant, and if someone ordered a steak that was medium, and it came out and medium, well, they would just send it back, you know, in certain restaurants, especially throw it in the garbage. Exactly. Yeah, it’s a real shame. And the so I was reading, I was working with an environmental activist, you know, a couple of years ago, and we were researching, you know, food waste in America, and we waste almost 30% of the food that we produce in this country. It’s absolutely insane in these grocery stores, I mean, some of them weren’t even even composting the food, you know, if you’re gonna throw it away, at least composted? Yeah,

Sonya Looney 28:10
and it’s not just the trash it makes it’s the amount of resources that went into creating that food to transporting the food. Like, it’s, it’s really wild when you think about that.

Daniel Troia 28:19
Exactly. That’s a great point that we don’t think about, sometimes we just think, Okay, here’s some blueberries, you know, but where did these blueberries come from, especially in off seasons, you know, they must have come from a different part of the world, and all the resources that have to go into it to get it there.

Sonya Looney 28:31
So you have a lot of resourcefulness because you had to find food you had to get money. And now let’s talk about the sleeping part because that’s another like I’ve done some bike packing like on trails, but not you know, out, you know, on the roads and stuff so like sleeping on the side of the trail is one thing, but when you’re out in cities and out in the open, like where the heck do you sleep?

Daniel Troia 28:52
Yeah, so I was stealth camping a lot of the way which means kind of just trying to find you know, areas and public places to sleep. And one thing I always wanted to be aware of was never going on anybody’s property and being respectful, right. But a lot of times I came across baseball fields and the reason why I chose baseball fields was because there was always a water source there with the hoses and so I could always cook my dinner. And if it got dark, I could just do a quick rinse off, you know and clean myself off and then if it rained, I could get shelter in the dugouts which was which was which was good and you know some I stepped in some pretty strange places though to I mean, when I was in Northern California I was a and just kind of kept me more engaged in the experience to was looking for a place to sleep that was unique and in Northern California and I started to rain one, one late afternoon and I was looking for a place and I came across this hold out huge redwood tree that must have been at least 1000 years old and I slept in that redwood tree which was interesting and there was a there was also you know, one night in Pennsylvania was trying to find a place to sleep and I came across this old graveyard that was maybe had like maybe 20 or 30 Gray You stones, and it was really soft grass and I slept there. And that was another kind of unique place that I slept.

Sonya Looney 30:07
Yeah, it’d be funny photo collage, like weird places I’ve slept.

Daniel Troia 30:11
Yeah, yeah, definitely.

Sonya Looney 30:13
Did you ever worry about people bothering you while you were sleeping? Yeah,

Daniel Troia 30:17
yeah. And sometimes they did. I mean, there was one specific night I was in Paterson, New Jersey, and I was sleeping behind this warehouse. And, man, it was absolutely terrifying. I woke up at 3am to this, this, this, this truck revving its engine and driving towards my tent. And I had no idea what was going on. Yeah, it was terrifying. And I thought I was going to get run over. And I had no idea what was happening. And, you know, going through an experience like that, it made me think about, you know, people who live on the streets, and just how traumatic it must be, because that’s an experience, they probably they probably have fairly often is just coming someone coming up to their tent, they don’t know what’s going on. And yeah, and then there was also, you know, certain times people are curious, I’d be in random, you know, rural town, and someone would see a tent and they come up to my tent. And so yeah, definitely at times, there was an adventure aspect to it. But there was also some, some fear around it as well, because you feel vulnerable when you’re sleeping in a tent. Yeah,

Sonya Looney 31:08
for sure. And also, you know, the elements and like, where do you go to the bathroom?

Daniel Troia 31:14
Yeah, definitely, I got good at just finding a place off the road. And being comfortable with that I remember at first I felt like, you know, self conscious about it. And just like, it’s kind of it’s, it’s different, you know, not using a toilet. But as time went on, I started to get more accustomed to using the bathroom, you know, behind trees and things like that. And I one thing I will say is, as I grew this new appreciation for just jumping in rivers, because, you know, I wasn’t staying in campgrounds and things like that. So showers were hard to come by. So whenever I would come across a river, I would just jump in. And it was actually refreshing because sometimes my body would be tired or sore, and that cold water will be reinvigorating. And then I would jump back on the bike and continue today. I

Sonya Looney 31:54
want to shift for a second to talk about meaning and purpose because I’ll put my nerd hat on, like, when you live a life of curiosity and interest and exploration, you tend to experience more meaning in life. And the more you do that, the higher your sense of purpose and meaning. So, you know, I heard you say, I think it must have been on a podcast like you started bikepacking at age 28. So did your did your sense of meaning and purpose in life change after you became a bike packer and started experiencing more like novelty and exploration?

Daniel Troia 32:24
Totally, yeah, absolutely. Without a doubt, because because of the minimalism about it in the idea that I think before I went on my first bike tour, I felt like I needed just stuff to be relevant. You know, and, and in society, and I was comparing myself and the bike touring it really, you know, slow things down and made me realize I don’t need all this materialism, and I don’t need all this consumerism and and what the bike touring did for me was it. It opened up experiences, and it opened up connections. And you know, it was one thing I find is really fascinating. Sonya is, you know, as we get older, the phrase that we don’t use too often is, that was the first time I ever did that. Right? As we get older. And with bike touring, I find myself saying that way more often. It’s like, that was the first time I experienced something like that, right? And that’s something that I love so much about the bike touring is because there’s so much unpredictability about it and and because of the unpredictability, I think that there’s it’s impossible not to feel more curious and engaged and stimulated. Wow,

Sonya Looney 33:26
I love that. So simplicity and then you said connection. Totally. So connection. Yeah. So like, you know, when you’re out there, you’re connecting with people in a certain way. You’re, you’re not like in authentically playing a role but you’re like playing a certain role. Like you’re out there, you’re your identity, your purpose is like I’m out here riding my bike across the country or, you know, in whatever capacity so when you come home like you enter a different role now you’re like Daniel, the physical therapist, Daniel, the, you know, the friend to everybody, like, how you connect with people, does that change when you get home versus whenever you’re out there on your bike? Well,

Daniel Troia 33:59
yeah, the blessing about being on these bike tours, it’s it’s made me way more interested in people back home and learning how to connect with people back home, because when I go on these bike tours, I’m by myself, right? And so it’s really improved my social skills, and also the idea of saying yes to things because before I went on these bike tours, I feel like I was a little more kind of closed minded and and when I’m on the bike tour, I feel like I’m much more willing to explore different opportunities and connections with people and then since I’ve come back from those bike tours, I definitely feel way more interested in the people around me. And that way,

Sonya Looney 34:37
what are a couple things that people can just say to someone else if they’re trying to spark connection because I think that there’s like a discomfort for people to ask somebody also a question because they don’t want to look dumb or they want to want to seem to like nosy or whatever. So like, what are some what are some actionable things people can do?

Daniel Troia 34:53
I think that um, you know, finding a common ground as far as where you’re from, you know, and it sounds silly. Pretty basic, but I think that because especially if you’re on a bike tour, you know, and you’re, you have the opportunity because it gives you this chance to really, I’d say, give you a chance to really open up with yourself, if that makes sense, you know, and talk to them about it. And the other thing, too, is I think that one, one thing that really comes to mind is just asking someone, give, tell me a story. Because I think everybody, even if you’re not on a bike tour, I think everybody has an interesting story in their life, you know. And somebody I remember, when I’m on my bike tour is sometimes people say, tell me about one day on this bike tour one day that comes to mind. And I think that we could do that with other people as ask them to me one day in your life,

Sonya Looney 35:39
I want to go back to your incredible capacity to sit with discomfort, because I think this is very unique about you. Number one, the amount of physical discomfort that one has to endure when writing 7000 miles out and back. Just even if you had everything like there’s still there’s still discomfort and 7000 miles or 7000 miles. So there’s number one is physical. But number two, you have an incredible number two is mental, incredible mental capacity. Because you’re you’re dealing with a lot of uncertainty. And it’s mostly uncertainty, there is no known I mean, you know, kind of the general direction you’re going but you don’t know what’s going to happen. And then number three is the emotional discomfort. Like I think that that capacity, like you said, you still felt shame no matter what you did, whenever you’re sitting there panhandling, being able to talk to people, you know, and ask for things like that’s uncomfortable. So how do you how do you do that? How can people do this more in their lives to sit with the physical, mental and emotional discomfort so that they can move forward and grow from it? Yeah.

Daniel Troia 36:42
So in regards to the physical aspect, I mean, for me, I draw inspiration from the people around me, and specifically, I have a friend too. He was in a very traumatic car accident, he experienced traumatic brain injury, and it’s taken him it’s taken him eight years to relearn how to walk. And he’s at year 13. Now, and he’s still it’s, he had to relearn how to do everything, right from from, from speaking to spelling to all of that stuff, right. And he’s, I think about him often, because just seeing just how it was, it didn’t all happen at once, it was eight years of really small progress, but he stayed consistent with it. And he’s, he’s often a reminder to me of when I am on these journeys, you know, just to think about him and use him as inspiration and realize that, again, it’s a huge blessing to be out there and take it one day at a time, if that makes sense. The mental aspect of it, I can speak from personal experience and say that, you know, both my parents passed away at a fairly young age. And to me that it created a sense of restlessness in some ways, but I think recklessness, I mean it in a positive way. Because it showed me that I’m not going to be here forever. And it really made me think about while I’m here, I want to make sure that I use my time, you know, and so that’s something that came out of the mental aspect. And then the emotional, I think it ties back into my childhood, you know, I didn’t, my mother’s struggle with addiction. So there was a lot of kind of chaos in my house throughout my childhood and going through that trauma. And you know, there was physical and mental, you know, physical and emotional abuse happening in the house. And once that I got through that, and just made me look at life so much differently. And I think that again, kind of going to the pain with the purpose that’s kind of helped me help me with the emotional aspect of things and gave me the, you know, a chance to tap into an emotional side that I wasn’t able to get to before that.

Sonya Looney 38:34
How much processing Did you like, if you’re just in your daily life, like I love thinking about how the things that we experience on the bike, and that the lessons translate into our daily lives. Like if you’re if you’re in a moment during your day, and you’re encountering a moment of shame, or discomfort or whatever it may be, do you think back to the bike to a bike experience? Like Well, I did that here. So I can do this? Or is it generally? Yeah, yeah, totally.

Daniel Troia 38:57
Sonya, that’s another another great thing that comes with bike touring is you think, Oh, if I was able to cross the Great Basin desert, you know, and keep my cool, like, you know, it’s really Yeah, and then the fact that like, you know, because I work in a physical therapy, and I also work in a grocery store and thinking like, I think that if it gets really busy in the grocery store, like I can, I can handle this stress based on the fact that I was able to keep my cool with an adult does not know not just with crossing the desert, also keeping my cool looking for a place to sleep that night, for example, you know, so yeah, I think it does, it definitely crosses over.

Sonya Looney 39:31
Something that people think about a lot, myself included is like safety and like third people have these like world beliefs, do they believe the world is a safe place or not? And that can vary wildly across people. So you know, how safe do you think like if you had a rate on a scale of zero to five, like how safe you were, or how safe you felt on this bike packing trip in the US specifically, like how would you rate that?

Daniel Troia 39:56
Yeah, I mean, for me, I’d say with I would say if A lot of five, I felt safe. And speaking obviously, as a man as well. So there’s a lot of things that come into this. But I think that, um, you know, there’s that expression, if it bleeds, it leads. So when it comes to the news stories, so like, the news stations, you know, they tried to find the worst story they can get. So people watch it, and they get clicks, and they make money on advertisements, right? And that’s what we always hear, we always seem to hear the worst of humanity. But I think that once you go out there and you travel, you realize that it’s not nearly as bad as people were making it seem I had, you know, there was a lot of times when I would be speaking to somebody from one town, and I would say, I’m going to this next town, they say, Oh, you don’t want to go there. Be careful going through there. But then I go through there and then wouldn’t be in the issue. So I think that I think that there’s this sensationalism, as far as the how dangerous it is out there. And of course, there are certain places that are dangerous, but it’s not nearly as bad as that news media makes it seem. Did you

Sonya Looney 40:53
get into any situations like you write a four out of five, but were there any situations we were like, jeez, like, that was kind of sketchy?

Daniel Troia 41:00
Yeah, for sure. I mean, writing through gang neighborhoods in East St. Louis, that was definitely something that was That was dangerous, for sure. And it made me it just but if anything, I’m grateful for going through there because it gave it showed me this part of America hadn’t seen about how truly dangerous and the crime ridden and drug ridden these these places are. And it made me think about man, how difficult it must be to be growing up here and to get out of this situation. Right. And another example is, I mean, I was riding through in Idaho, and a guy flagged me down and he didn’t, he was very suspicious about what I was doing, etc. And he, you know, he threatened, threatened me and told me that everybody’s carrying guns, so I should be careful, you know, but, uh, those experiences didn’t happen too often. But there were experiences. And there was one more. I mean, there’s a couple more, but I mean, that’s what comes to mind. I was setting up my tent and kind of a rough town in eastern Kansas, and some guys came out to my tent, and they definitely didn’t like the fact that it was in their neighborhood. So I just immediately left, you know,

Sonya Looney 41:54
here’s your question. Feel free not to answer if you don’t want to, but like, did you have a gun with you? No,

Daniel Troia 41:59
no, I didn’t have it. No, no production with me at all. No, nothing like that. I figured I tried to set up my kind of my lifestyle in a way that I would be able to just avoid all of that. So as far as sleeping and stuff, I always tried to avoid everything. And one thing I did have is I kept my bike lock with me in my tent. So I figured if somebody came in, maybe I could swing my bike, lock it down or something, you know?

Sonya Looney 42:20
Yeah, I felt weird asking that. Because like, there’s all everybody’s like, you know, has their opinion on guns. And it’s even funnier now. Because like, I moved to Canada, and like gun culture, just just there is no gun culture here. So it’s just, yeah, so it didn’t even occur to me that someone would even do that on a bike touring. But I thought, well, maybe I should just ask,

Daniel Troia 42:38
ya know, I’ve actually been asked that before. Yeah.

Sonya Looney 42:42
And then you mentioned like, as your adventure wore on, like, you went to New York, you decided, well, first you decided this isn’t enough. I’m going to turn around and go back, like what made you decide to do an out and back? Yeah,

Daniel Troia 42:54
I think that is, again, I thought about just how much of a blessing it is to be physically capable right now in my life. And so that was something that really drove me as I thought when I got here, like, what if I were looking back at this moment, and being in New York, and then taking a flight home, and say, I should have written back, you know, and so that’s what that’s what drove me. And there’s also something in my gut, my gut feeling was saying, keep going. And again, back to intuition, I think that what I needed to do was I needed to ride back home because that’s when all the experiences really started to get difficult. Because again, like my appearance was changing. So I was receiving less help from people, I was getting harassed more the lifestyle was starting to wear on me. And if I didn’t go through those, those more challenging times towards the end, you know, on the way back from New York City, that I wouldn’t have been able to see this level of compassion and kindness from people that I experienced the second half. Yeah,

Sonya Looney 43:45
it also sounds like you know, the beginning there on the way out, there was lots of curiosity but then it became more judgmental because you look different people were judging you. And then we’re out there less curious. Did you saw the same sign and everything on the way back? Yeah, it

Daniel Troia 43:59
was the same Simon it was, it was really fascinating because I mean, it was a combination of things. It was my appearance that you’re growing along scraggly beard, but also the energy I was putting out there when I was when I was writing to New York City and I was feeling strong physically and mentally. So I was I was more welcoming as a person but as as time went on, and the lifestyle was getting more challenging as far as trying to find a safe place to sleep and bathe and food etc. I was putting out a different energy and as human beings we absolutely you know, can feel each other’s energy. So even though it was the same sign, etc, people could feel it and I was pushing people away instead of actually welcoming people like in the beginning of it.

Sonya Looney 44:35
That’s really interesting, because you know, initially it sounded like what the sign said was a really important factor here but it really actually sounds like you and the energy that you’re putting out there was the important factor

Daniel Troia 44:48
totally Yeah, and you know, when sometimes when I look at some of the footage I realized I was closing up like not just like emotionally but literally physically to it was really fascinating to see like, how what you’re going through in life, how it affect Extra posture. And I was really, I look a lot different, just like with my stature, you know physically as as, as time goes on throughout this experience.

Sonya Looney 45:10
Were you aware of that in the moment? Or is this more like thinking back? Yo, it’s very

Daniel Troia 45:14
strange, I had absolutely no idea. And it was interesting. Talking with friends and family when I got back home the first month or so especially with my uncles, I’m very close with them. And they were saying how different I was in that for that month that I got back home, I think that, again, kind of a result of the environment in the life that I was living, it changed me. And it’s very strange, because in most cases, I’m very outgoing. Like today, you know, I’m feeling good. And I put them welcoming and have a positive energy. But after those seven months, it was really starting to change. And it made me you know, I’m grateful for it, because it made me think about when I do come in contact with someone whose energy doesn’t match mine. And I tried to try to be a little more empathetic and try to understanding of maybe they’re having a really rough day, and it’s, you know,

Sonya Looney 45:58
what, do you think there’s anything you could have done, like, retrospectively to work on that energy? Or is it just like, you’re just, there’s trauma that’s like, building up from the, from the experience? Yeah,

Daniel Troia 46:08
I think I mean, I did keep a journal with me. And I was writing every day about it. And I think, honestly, it was, it was the trauma, though, I think, is what it was, especially at that that night sleeping in New York City. And I think that, um, that really had a lasting effect on me. And again, it makes me think about if someone is leaving on the street for this long, like, what, what can they do, and I think that, you know, like, the guy I mentioned, shorty, I mean, he turned to God, like, that was him. That’s what got him through it was faith. And I think that we have to figure out a way of, of getting through it in a way that’s not turning to drugs, you know, or other other other substances. And I think that it’s really tricky. But for me, the journaling, I guess it helped, but I mean, what really helped was just when I would have a connection with somebody, honestly, and I felt kind of at the mercy of, of other people.

Sonya Looney 46:55
Yeah, it makes you really think about, you know, people that are living on the street, and that’s their life, and, you know, the type of judgments we might have, and we see somebody not realizing just how costly that is to, you know, not know where your food is coming from and not to feel safe and those types of things.

Daniel Troia 47:13
Yeah, because if you think about if they’re experiencing trauma every night, because of sleeping in a dangerous place, it’s not realistic for them to have like a really positive, welcoming, you know, kind of kind of energy.

Sonya Looney 47:24
Yeah. So what was reentry like for you? Because, I mean, so it was seven months, right? Yeah, that’s a month. That’s a very long time. And a very different lifestyle than, you know, coming back home. So like, how did you adapt getting back home?

Daniel Troia 47:40
Yeah, it was very strange. When I first got back home, the first month, I spent just at my uncle’s house, and I hardly left the house at all. And that’s unlike me, that’s if anything, I’m always outside, you know, what? hiking, cycling, exercising, but all I wanted to do was just stay inside and, and sleep really, it was a huge adjustment. And, and again, I was still dealing with it with a shame. I was feeling shame. Even when I got back home, I thought I was going to be feeling like the sense of accomplishment, but But again, the life that I was living and having the eyes on me all the time, I felt shame. And something kind of strange that happened was I actually once I did get a new place to live for the first six months, I slept in my closet. I didn’t sleep in my bed. And I don’t know if that was like it was comforting, for some reason, because I was sleeping in a tent for so long. But that was definitely different. And I also some of that hasn’t left me from that experience on is still to this day, when I walk around towns, I’m noticing places where I could sleep. And I never, I never did that before going on this bike tour. But I’m always the I’m still kind of like on the lookout for places to sleep. Yeah.

Sonya Looney 48:42
Interesting. Do you have a sense of accomplishment now with the with this? Oh, I

Daniel Troia 48:47
feel so grateful for the experience indefinitely? Yeah, absolutely. And I look back at that experience. And also just, you know, again, going through that and witnessing the compassion and kindness and empathy, because now I have this really special opportunity to where I can be that person for others, you know, and if you get it, then it’s not about giving money, but it’s about when my coworkers are feeling off, you know, going up and just checking in with them. And that’s something that I didn’t think about before going on this journey. And that’s probably the thing I learned the most is like, there’s all this it can feel like there’s so much chaos happening in the world. But the one thing that we can we can actually control is how we treat each other. And

Sonya Looney 49:23
that’s like, that’s like the quote of the entire podcast. Like the one thing that we can control is how we treat each other. Because I think we get stressed or we get tired or whatever. And it’s so easy to dismiss other people. It’s easy to even dismiss ourselves like how we treat ourselves and it takes so much intention and energy. Sometimes, like I have like two toddlers and sometimes I think about like, I’m so frustrated right now and I just it’s like try to try to be as kind and patient as possible. And that can be very hard.

Daniel Troia 49:53
Absolutely. Yeah, especially Yeah, when when you’re feeling high levels of stress. Definitely.

Sonya Looney 49:59
I also wanted to ask Do you about the importance of this, like retroactive processing that you did through creating this film? Because like, there’s, there’s the experience itself, right? There’s like the thing that happened, the going through the thing to being present in the thing. And then there’s afterwards looking back on the thing and then creating a film. Like, it seems like that would that would do something, you know, to the story or to how you feel about it? I don’t know. Yeah, it

Daniel Troia 50:22
was actually, it felt like therapy to me to go back through and put this film together, because it helped me process the whole experience and understanding in a way that I wasn’t able to understand, you know, when I first got back, and there was a sense of underwhelming at first when the film came out in the very beginning, because I thought this only this only scraped the surface to what it could have been. But as time went on, I started to just appreciate the story that I was able to tell with the footage that I had. But it was such a beautiful experience to have all this footage in these in these, with these connections with people because there’s literally hundreds of people that I met along the way and able to put to a movie together about it was really special. Yeah,

Sonya Looney 51:03
I’m just thinking about the logistics and like all the hours of film and like the I don’t know if this is the right word, but like being it being tedious, like I do not like editing film, because it’s just feel so tedious. And you had to relive everything all over again, which that must have been really interesting. Yeah, you

Daniel Troia 51:20
know, for the majority of the time, I really enjoyed it, I didn’t enjoy putting it together the last maybe 15 minutes the movie because it brought up a lot of like hard memories. But there’s a lot of the time it was beautiful just going through and because again, a lot of the film, it’s showing compassion and kindness. And so I had the privilege of just like putting together a movie and just showing like, people just doing really kind things. And so it was kind of a reminder of just kind of, you know, my my belief in humanity. You know?

Sonya Looney 51:48
I have one more question for you. It’s around. I should have asked it earlier. But I’m sure there was many times that you thought about giving up for multitude of reasons. Like yeah, how did you not give up, especially on the way back when you were starting to notice like, hey, like, I might be feeling a bit depressed or, you know, this is getting really friggin hard. Yeah.

Daniel Troia 52:07
So it goes back to the My gut feeling that when I came up with the idea for this film, it was the one thing that I was the most sure of out of anything in my entire life. Like I just knew like this is this is what I want to do this is for sure what I want. And I’ve never had that sense, you know. And so when times would get rough out there on the road, like, I really, truly believed in what I was doing. And I believed that even if it was a really difficult time, I thought there’s a reason for this, you know, like this is this is exactly what’s supposed to happen. So when beautiful moments of kindness would happen, I thought this is what’s supposed to happen. And when things would get really challenging. Like when I ran out of the water in the desert, I thought this is what’s supposed to happen. And so it was really just believing in not just my gut feeling but believing in myself, I think that, you know, it’s so incredibly important to believe in yourself. And also, I think it’s so important to have just one if you can have one person who believes in you, that can be a life changer, you know, and again, like I can’t stress this enough, like we could be that one person who believes in somebody else. And then who knows what they can accomplish, because they have that one person who believes in them.

Sonya Looney 53:13
Wow, that’s so powerful. I get goosebumps. My husband is that person for me, hands down. Who’s that person for you?

Daniel Troia 53:21
It’s my uncle. And it makes me want to tear up just thinking about it too. Because I remember there was a lot of people who, who, who were doubting my idea, you know, and my uncle was the one who was like, go and do this. Absolutely. Go and do this. And I’m really happy that you have you have someone in your life who believes in you as well.

Sonya Looney 53:37
Well, where can people find again, we mentioned it at the beginning. But where can people find the documentary and your other you’ve made? You’ve made more than one. So where can people find you and your your movies? Thank you. Yeah, so

Daniel Troia 53:46
the one we were just talking about? We are all in this together. It’s on Amazon Prime on Apple TV and Google Play. And then, yeah, you can see my first film, it was about biking across Europe. It’s called two wheels to freedom. And that’s on YouTube. Yep, that’s where you can find some of this stuff.

Sonya Looney 54:04
Great. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing your story, your your energy, and I’m personally touched and inspired by it, and it just makes me want to be even kinder and pay attention to people even more than I than I am and to be braver, so thanks. Thank

Daniel Troia 54:20
you, Sonya and thank you for putting this podcast out. I’ve learned a lot on your three episodes. So thank you.

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