AILEEN: Surrender

PHOTOS | HELEANA GENAUS

Burn to shine. Diamonds start as coal. The light is darkest just before the dawn. 

They’re common inspirational quotes used over and over the world over to remind us, that pushing through our hardest moments will make us better, beautiful and visible to more people. For Aileen, The Moto Quest is the conduit that got her through the difficult parts to the person she is now. Open, positive, grateful and free.

For the uninitiated, The Moto Quest began as a travel diary of Aileen’s adventure travelling Indonesia, alone on her custom Honda 200cc Tiger. The blog is punctuated with entries on her own honest observations of life, love, health and gratitude. Being German, Aileen admits she is born with a need for control over life and the pursuit of perfection. However, after spending some time with this lady while in Sydney, I can say Aileen is plugged in to something more, her enthusiasm to learn from and understand people (and her strength) are infectious, so much so I felt like we’d been friends all our lives. 

The idea for her quest came to her while meditating on a lotus (yes I know, very Zen), as she put it to me, “there is no resistance in nature, it doesn’t complain… everything just works” and with that surrendered herself to her situation (stuck in Indonesia, without friends or family awaiting her Australian visa issues to resolve). On a piece of paper she wrote down all the things she wanted to do or loved which included photography, writing, health, spirituality and most importantly the freedom she gets from riding motorcycles… and then got overwhelmed trying to merge them together in one mission. After heaps of brainstorming, thinking, and discussions eventually The Moto Quest emerged.

Travelling Indonesia on a motorcycle, alone as a woman was no small thing and challenged her need for control and certainty. Committed to her new found sense of surrender, she found that people in Indonesia when they had ample opportunity to exploit her or steal from her proved otherwise, despite her initial apprehension. 

She recounted moments from her trip that could have easily have gone another way, but even the local [characteristically corrupt] police helped her without the need to bribe them. She realised “people are good, even the bad ones. We’re all born ‘good’ and life is what changes us”. I could not have been more touched by her words, and more convinced. Her very existence is testimony to that, if you let people help you, they will. 

This attitude and her growing supportive following online mobilised while fighting dengue fever during the trip.  Strangers from all over the word helped her raise money to pay her massive hospital bill to get her back on the road. Again proving when you surrender to your situation and ask for help, people will surprise you.

The greatest thing I learnt from Aileen in our short time together was that on looking back on all the "mountains", all the challenges I once conquered. After scaling them I was often left wondering where the sense of achievement is? There are no parades waiting for you, no marching band to celebrate your achievements but rather (and I think even better) a new normal. Before The Moto Quest, Aileen was left wondering what her purpose in life is, where she belonged, what more she could make of the zen she finds on motorcycles… it took life to kick her down to find her “shine”. 

Aileen is back in Germany, healthy and inspired she is focussed on spreading The Moto Quest message and probably planning another adventure. This lady is an example of what life looks like when you know every day is a gift and that people are inherently good. 

Heleana is a force of nature. Our Editor in Chief, the founder of In Venus Veritas and The Petrolette, and a co-founder of Rising Sun Workshop. Heleana shares her love of vintage cars, riding motorcycles, and (not-so-secretly) dreams of flying planes and piloting a riva aquariva (a la Sophia Loren) very fast through the canals of Venice. Supportive and connected, community is her lifeblood, and she is as real as they come.