Monday, 03 January 2011

Chasing stories & finding ‘alive’ : All over the world

Not too long ago I had a great chat, via skype, with a remarkable woman named Sarah Outen, all the way over in London, UK.

In 2009 Sarah became the first woman to row across the Indian Ocean, all on her own.
This year she will set out to travel from London2London: Via the World.

I asked her to write a little something about her adventures. So here it is:

I was intrigued when I received an email introducing me to Jo and her planned cycling epic. (It’s a bit more than a ‘ride’ isn’t it?) I have always wanted to visit Africa, so I really look forward to following her progress over the next couple of years. And who knows, if I am really lucky, I might even be home from my next expedition in time to join in for a few miles of pedaling. That would be special.

That is of course if my bottom doesn’t object to the idea. After all, it will have just endured 2.5 years of expedition by rowing boat, bike and kayak – activities with a reputation of inducing salt water boils, rashes and general aches.

I know this all too well and so does my derriere – in 2009 I rowed across the Indian Ocean, from Australia to Mauritius. It took me one failed attempt and 124 days of rowing. High seas, flat seas, rough seas, wild seas, wide wide seas…. It was out there that I set my sights on the world, yearning to be out on the waves again, despite the salt water sores, the fear, the exhaustion, the monotony, the capsizes. As with anything, there are two sides to the story and the other side of all the not-so-sweet parts is that there were so many exciting, mind blowing, incredible, beautiful times, too. Times when I was rowing under a velvety night so full of stars that the sky seems to go on forever, or when I held the gaze of an albatross as he surfed down beside my little boat, wheeling and cruising over the waves. Or others when I stared down into six kilometers of ocean and let my mind boggle over the blues and the depth and the hugeness of it all.

Everything was huge out there – except for my little boat. And the whole experience regularly showed me that we are nothing on this earth – just a little tiny blip of randomness that happens to be here for an impossibly short while in the grand scheme of things. And that is a humbling, wonderful sort of thought that gives life a whole new meaning really. Even though we are nothing, we can do something. We can make trails and blaze paths; we can be a change for the better, even if only for a short while and life will still go on, even when we have gone.

This is why I am heading out a on a major expedition again – to chase the stories, to meet new people, discover new places and seek out those moments where I feel absolutely spine tinglingly, earth shatteringly alive. I know that it will test me, scare me, excite me, hurt me, energise me, educate me, inspire me, challenge me and ultimately fill me with all sorts of memories and lessons and wonderful times. That’s why I adventure.

Having spoken with Jo a few times now, I think this is a common theme and I wish her all the very best on her expedition and look forward to touching base as we both head off on our journeys.

For more information on Sarah’s ‘London2London:Via the World’ expedition check out her website, Youtube channel and follow her exploits on Twitter.
Twitter: @SarahOuten
Youtube: @SarahOuten

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