What is adventure? The google definition is “an unusual and exciting or daring experience”.
Many of us can probably remember as a child the desire we had for the outdoors and the attractive mystery it held. But how many people have ever stopped to ask why? Where does this feeling derive from? Maybe we seek adventure because we are bored of our relatively easy everyday life that society has governed. If we take humanity back to the life of the early Homo sapiens; life was simple, difficult and far from boring! As hunter gatherers we were accustomed to hunting and roaming far from home and often into the unknown in search of food and of course, avoiding becoming prey ourselves.
Nowadays, our daily choices no longer involve life or death situations. We can almost predict how each day will go and the times they will occur, the simplicity of staying alive is more in our control. When we leave the comfort of our home to hunt or gather, we are in no real danger or becoming the hunted; we simply go to the supermarket and choose from the array of products on display. Stress has diminished to a level that is hardly noticeable when it comes to our basic needs. The modern day has reinvented what stress is but we have the still have the same physiological response to it as our ancestors did. That fight-or-flight adrenaline rush response is hard wired into us and leaves us shaking , with our hearts beating hard. In a way adventure is part of our genetic code and in our very physiological process.
Fast track to 2019, to the evening I received the call to join the Ocean Revival 2020 Team and row across the North Atlantic. I was already ten months into a life-changing series of incredible adventures with my soul mate, Hannah. Where we often had peculiar moments of being too ‘like minded’, which resulted in us taking on many feats such as: a fear conquering trek up to Everest base camp, a grueling 1,100 mile cycle tour around South Korea and an 8 day kayak expedition through the Palawan Islands in the Philippines. In true backpacking fashion we were sat around a log fire after a hard yet rewarding days riding in the Ha Giang province, in far North Vietnam. Sharing tales, drinks and an explanation to why Hannah was wearing a cast. And yes, it was obviously the stray dogs fault. Being an ex-Marine myself and still very close to one of Ocean Revivals team members, I was already a huge fan of the challenge they had set and I followed their journey closely.
Rowing the Atlantic has been an ambition of mine ever since those blissful school days when I heard a fellow pupil’s father was attempting a crossing in 2005. That ignited my imagination and I remember wondering what 60 days at sea would feel like. Never mind the rowing, what if the boat flipped? How would it hold up in a storm with 50ft waves? I had so many questions but I felt I had the ‘why’ figured out. To go where many have not and to experience what many will not was alluring to me and the thought enticed me.
Sitting across from Hannah, having been inseparable for the last ten months she instantly knew what was being offered. Despite me trying to hide my emotions, the joy was written all over my face. After this call we discussed in depth what a challenge of this magnitude will entail. Emotions were sporadic between us because Hannah is a woman with an admiring mental fortitude and resilience to pain! This eudemonic challenge suits her strengths and it’s something we had even discussed tackling together. Despite the hint of envy I could see Hannah was on side. I had no doubt after the inseparable, mind combining ten months we have had together already; She was always on board!
The call from Joel caught me off guard as he knew what a challenge like this would mean to me and I could tell he wanted to be the one to deliver such news. More importantly it has given us something to go at each other again and push the limits. I have lost track of the amount of secret, non-disclosed competitions we have had with each other since the Corps brought us together all those years ago.
Receiving the news was a fantastic moment for me, but after discovering that this opportunity came about at the emotional expense of an existing team member, it did make me question myself. Giving up his place must have been extremely difficult and a decision that wouldn’t have been made lightly. It gave me a different perspective into what a challenge like this takes and the support that goes on behind the scenes. Was I ready for the commitment, the disruption it may cause or the 70-day row itself? A route what has already claimed 6 lives.
The rest of the night was spent chasing thoughts and trying to put a picture together of everything that will go into this. But it was the first step, the first step into an adventure of a lifetime.