Be bold. Be curious. Be a part of something bigger.
While I was home for the holidays I read the December issue of National Geographic I’d spotted laying on the coffee table from cover to cover–a first in probably twenty years. Just picking up the heavy, yellow framed monthly and taking in its captivating cover, I was brought back to that sense of adventure I felt as a kid each month when our subscription arrived.
“Our Greatest Journey,” a seven-year, 21,000-mile trek, retracing 60,000 years of human migration, was last month’s cover story that drew me in. I remember being fascinated by exploration as a kid. Even in history class, which bored me to tears, I’d daydream about the bravery it must have taken to sail into uncharted waters in order to make monumental discoveries.
Reading “Our Greatest Journey” I fantasized about what my own quest would look like; where would I go? As a journalism undergrad, I was always curious about the adventures of an inside reporter. To this day, I don’t think I’d turn that job down, no matter where they sent me. A couple years ago, reading Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, a memoir of her lonely expedition taking on the Pacific Crest Trail, I felt the same thrill of rich bravery coupled with fear of the vast unknown. I guess it all makes sense now, looking back, why I began romanticizing the idea of a pilgrimage nearly eight years ago after reading Paulo Coelho’s book, appropriately titled, The Pilgrimage.
It wasn’t until today when I found out about this Nat Geo “Adventurer of the Year” Contest. I follow Diana Nyad on FB and I saw her “Vote For Me” post in my newsfeed this morning. I immediately thought, “Who is badass enough to compete with Diana Nyad for anything?”
So I Googled them all, of course, read excerpts and watched vids, and found each of them fascinating in their own right.
Watching old Sarah Marquis vids during portions of her latest three-year trek I was in awe of the solitude, the perseverance, the strength. All the same reasons I was overwhelmed with emotion when I watched sixty-four year old, Nyad, stumble ashore in the US after swimming the channel from Cuba on her recent 5th and final attempt.
Snowboarder, Kevin Pearce, and big wave rider, Greg Long, are both back from near death experiences and still at the top of their game. Climber, Adam Ondra, and ultra-“sky”-runner, Kilian Jornet are blazing trails in their respective sport, doing what seems impossible and making it look easy.
All 10-plus on the list are amazing specimens of badass, pushing the envelope in their respective fields and letting their instincts drive them. Each has failed, or encountered heartbreaking setbacks, more than once I’m sure, yet the will to continue–that fire burning passion (even when it has a tendency to dim to a flicker) could not be ignored–trumped the fear it took to fight back.
Besides being crazy, they are no different than we are. But given the right opportunity, I can’t promise that I won’t up my level of crazy–you’ve been fairly warned. Too some, anything outside the norm is crazy and anything beyond that is just insane … so let’s be honest, I know for me, at least, I’ve been crazy for a long frickin’ time. And, you know, it’s kinda nice out here; the air seems fresher; the sun seems to shine brighter; it’s definitely way more fun; the stress seems lighter; and what’ya know, outside the box, there’s plenty of room to grow.
Be bold. Be curious. Be part of something bigger.
I leave you with this: Up your level of crazy.