Last winter at a new event I worked on called NW Maritime Spring Boating Symposium, Lin Pardey gave a talk called The Compelling Life of Adventure. Boom! Little did I know how it would ring in my ears six months later when I turned 50.
First, you should know that I've worked with Lin through at least 4 other events connected to Wooden Boat Festivals. I've been a fan of her writing and their adventures for more than a decade using their advice while sailing around the world. I'd also been fortunate to get an early copy of her book Bull Canyon while spending a month writing in my own arid canyon, so I thought I was pretty "caught up" on their advice.
Second, being the director of this and other first-time events, I knew I wouldn't get to enjoy the Symposium. At best, I'd get snippets of presentations, boat tours, logistics "flow", but the chances of me having a profound life moment would be slim. That's my life in events. So when Lin & I worked out which titles they would present at our new weekend seminar, balancing their topics as the yin to Steve D'Antonio's yang (or vice versa, you decide) I barely registered a click on my profoundimeter when pasting in the paragraph of her talks.
When the day dawned to start Symposium, a crisp spring sun shone and I realized how incredibly different an event with 188 registered attendees is versus ten thousand. I had TIME! With an excellent crew of volunteers, I sat down to listen to Lin's first talk.
Here's Lin's description: Facing hurricane-force winds off Cape Horn, reasoning with machine gun toting Egyptian soldiers in the isolated reaches of the Red Sea, living among the !kung bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, crossing the rugged mountains of Tasmania on horseback, Lin Pardey will share a few of her favorite stories from 43 years of voyaging with her husband Larry on an engineless offshore sailing vessel. She’ll discuss the lessons she learned by preparing for and completing challenging ocean voyages and how each adventure has lead to an ever increasing desire to expand her own boundaries. Along the way you will learn the simple truths most adventures live by, truths that can apply to any endeavor, be it exploring new business ideas, searching for scientific discoveries or just working toward change within your own life. An underlying theme of her stories is; the most renowned adventurers considered themselves to be very ordinary people. Each overcame their fears, took that first step into the unfamiliar and went on to savor adventures’ compelling power.
Here's what I heard that empowered me with gusto to make a big life decision 6 months later... I don't have this recorded, so am paraphrasing best I can from memory.
"The scariest moment of any voyage, any adventure, is leaving the dock. The fear inside is acute and it's that fear that keeps people from leaving, keeps them tied. After tens of thousands of miles, some pretty big storms, gear failures and disappointments, I can tell you nothing that happens will feel so scary once you go. When you're out there on your own or with your partner, something kicks in and you don't feel afraid. Sure, you're not always comfortable, but there's something in all of us that wants to survive and there's something about the compelling power of adventure that overcomes our fear."
I knew from my own storms at sea and from the other major career transitions of decades past, that she was right! I replayed that part of her talk a hundred times that weekend and in the months leading up to what unbeknownst to me would be my last Wooden Boat Festival at the helm.
When the conversation with Jake happened and the distinct choice for my future role with Wooden Boat Festival appeared, I knew I had to let go. I untied the lines. I knew then and I know now, the next voyage, the next compelling powerful experience won't happen tied at the dock, scary as it may seem to leave. So here goes!
For the latest on Lin & Larry's compelling life of adventure, go here.