“What can you do for 52 days?”
“What can you stand for 52 days?”
“What can you change for 52 days?”
“What can you believe for 52 days?”
“What can you be for 52 days?”
This morning, as I meditated on the beach in Antigua, these questions plagued me.
Three days ago I met a young guy who rowed the Atlantic ocean on a team of four guys in 52 days and it rocked my world. He challenged every thought I have about the way my life should look - dreams, resilience, willpower, determination, fear, insight, purpose. He hadn’t planned to row the Atlantic or been working towards it for as long as he could remember - he literally got a call one day and said yes, if the guy asking was serious, then yes. He came from a place of yes.
If I approached my life from a place of yes, how different would it look? Would it likely look much more the way I dream it to? If I were going to say yes to ten things for 52 days, what would they be? Hmm.. well right off the top of my head...
- Honesty - with myself and others
- a regular yoga practice
- Peace in the moment
JD peed in a bottle, pooped in a bucket, ate space food, slept in the fetal position next to another dude, didn’t shower, and didn’t talk to anyone besides the three other guys on the boat with him, for 52 days. They got caught in a hurricane that blew them 20 miles off course for three days and heard about a fellow rower going overboard and never being found, and still never gave up. Other teams quit or were forced to quit due to extenuating circumstances and were picked up by tankers. Not them. When I asked him if he cried at any point, his answer (with a laugh,) was simple; “No. What good would that have done?”
He focused on what was necessary. How often do I allow my mind to drift to far off places that have no bearing on the present moment? We are all in the middle of our own Atlantic- and every day, we choose whether or not we want to keep going, or whether or not we want to call for a tanker --- The only person in control of my thoughts is me. If I focus on what is necessary in the present moment, would the peace I crave be much more attainable?
I found myself envying JD’s life and questioning everything about my own. I met him on a Thursday and the next thing on his agenda wasn’t until Monday - “there’s a surf session coming in, so I’ll probably do that and then have lunch on the beach." By that time, I’d be back in snowy New York City (the concrete jungle as we referred to it most of that day,) sitting in my flourescently-lit office combing through hundreds of emails. Having already completed the toughest hikes Antigua and her sister island have to offer, JD's more distant future plans included going to a nearby island to have a go at it’s tough trails, and going to Alaska to hike and see the Northern Lights. He says that his experience on the Atlantic totally changed everything he thinks about life - it's is an adventure to be lived. That wasn’t new information to me, but to meet someone who actually lives that way…well, that was new.
He lives the adventure. He doesn't just survive. The life I’ve been living the past three years, it’s not the adventure I dream of now, or have ever dreamt of for that matter. I can’t be JD - at least not currently. But I can certainly live my own adventure. I didn’t come to New York to work in an office, punch a clock, and put money in a 401k. I do not want to be one of those people who goes on vacation twice a year for a week and runs the rat race the rest of the time. For some people, that’s the ideal -and hey, I’m not looking down on you, in fact, more power to ya - but for me, it’s like living in a prison. It stifles every instinct I have. I moved to New York to pursue dreams that have been with me my whole life - to live out my purpose. And up till now, fear has quenched the adventure. It has taken the driver’s seat of my life and absolutely directed my steps - what is that about?! Has that fear gotten me any closer to my dreams? No. It’s pushed me away - run me in the opposite direction. What if I abandoned the fear and lived the adventure? What if I fed every adventurous instinct I have?
I’ve got two dream lives. There’s the one where I fulfill my dreams as an actress, singer, and entertainer, telling stories that matter, all while being involved in ministry, becoming a speaker, activist, and writer, get married and have kids and influence the world, and there’s the one where I travel the world working odd jobs, learning about people and cultures, get married and have kids somewhere along the way all while just continuing the adventure - nothing tying us down… the problem is that if I skip town now, I know I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. A huge part of me wants to - and has wanted to for a long time - but I can’t. Something stops me every time. And no matter how much it IRKS me, part of honoring yourself, is honoring your desires and your fears - giving voice to the desires, and telling the fears to shove off.
I’ve got to tell my fears to peace out.
Do I want to have no plans except to surf and have lunch on the beach? Absolutely. And I haven’t counted it out for one day, whether that’s in three months, three years, or when I’m 60. JD and I talked about me working on a boat as a deckhand or a day worker - that that would be a way to start this free life I dream of - “yah man. Just do it. Just go for it.” - well, I won’t be working as a deck hand or day worker on a luxury yacht, but I do plan to “just do it. just go for it.” Like an experiment. For 52 days I will come from a place of yes. I will focus on what is necessary. I will live the adventure. I will tell my fears to peace out. I will just do it. I will go for it.
JD is in the top five people I’ve ever met. Presidents, celebrities, and Desmond Tutu (who complimented my shoes by the way!)… they were great, but what makes JD so inspiring is that he is the most normal guy. He’s normal - but he’s obviously also got tested persistence, a love of life, and a contagious desire for adventure; whatever your version of adventure may be. When I think about dreams and legacy, I realize that I want people to remember me like I remember JD, which means I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me!