There is this girl. In 2011, she set out to be the youngest person, ever, to sail around the world, alone. Her name is Laura Dekker. She took two years, went through storms and rocky places, but came out sparkling and is still riding the waves.
As I watched the documentary about her voyage, I remembered hearing about her. At the time, I thought her parents were crazy to let her go. I couldn’t imagine how any 14 year old could survive crossing such a wide expanse of water. I couldn’t fathom it. Until I watched the documentary.
I realized my bias towards her dream was based on her age, not her skills. You see, she was not only born on a boat, but lived on one for the first five years of her life. Her father is a sailor himself, building his first yacht at 16. As the documentary showed, Laura was not only skilled but extremely knowledgeable about taking her trek. She researched different routes, had navigation equipment but also charts for backup, and most importantly, displayed an unending passion to accomplish the goal she set for herself.
Two distinct parts of the documentary stand out. The first was when Laura was sailing through a vicious thunderstorm. She is semi-below deck under a plastic canopy watching as lightening bursts through the clouds. Her comment? ‘Wow, that was awesome!!’ Her voice had not a hint of worry or fright.
The second part was when she was in the middle of the ocean. The wind was nil causing her boat to move like an inch worm. For days, she was ‘stuck.’ The first couple of days she explained the frustration of not being able to move forward. After a few more days, she had reached a different state of mind, commenting, ‘I made peace with it.’
As it ended, I wondered just how many of you, no matter your age and despite the odds, have pursued the thing you are most passionate about? Or did you give in to the mustn’ts, the don’ts, and the can’ts? How many of you live an awesome life? Or are you too downtrodden, too worn, too beat up? How many of you have peace, contentment and are happy in the place you are currently at? Or do you replay the what if game or envy others or wish for greener pastures? How many of you are living the life your heart speaks? How many of you are listening?
I know how hard it is to live with passion. I know how hard it is to live a life based on the words my heart is speaking. I know how hard it is to turn a corner when you know you may hurt someone. I know…
I also know how awesome life is when living passionately, the voice of my heart and out loud. I also know how different life has become since making peace with it.
We all have struggles. But when I think of Laura Dekker, I realize, if a young girl can be passionate about sailing and find storms awesome, then I have nothing to lose by cultivating my passion and living my life to the fullest. Most of us get one chance. So instead of leaving your boat at the dock, lift up the anchor, put up the sails and venture out. For you will never gain the courage to travel the open seas of life, unless you lose your stronghold on the shore.