By Susan Ronaldson on September 22, 2017
For me it started in a bar in Pucon, Chile; a small town at the foot of a rather large, active volcano. Of course life is full of beginnings, endings, twists and turns that change us, but that evening seems pivotal in turning me from a rather cautious, sensible soul into the kind of person who would go- yes, I will row the Atlantic!!
Sadly I’d just learnt my dear colleague Duncan had lost his battle against the Big C. How can such a ball of energy, with so much to give, complain to you he has a bit of a pain in his shoulder and, within just 10 weeks, be gone? Death has touched me before and since, but Duncan’s had quite an impact on me- maybe because of where I was in life and indeed in the world. But also, I think, because of who I was sharing the two for one cocktails with that night.
Vikki was unlike anyone I’d met. Quitting years in a call centre she’d got her HGV licence and was now ferrying tourists like me around to some of the most amazing places on the planet. Her attitude wasn’t so much as ‘seize the day’ as ‘seize the moment.’ Life is short, you have to do what makes you happy, go for it, and above all, take risks. Next day I climbed the volcano. It erupted a month later.
Now I have to point out for the benefit of my mum that ‘take risks’ does not mean be reckless. The only thing that makes me question this challenge is what it puts my family through. Setting off tomorrow to row the Atlantic in cheap wooden rowing boat would be- well more than stupid. But the right equipment, training, preparation, support and above all attitude manages that risk down. I also think we fool ourselves into feeling the familiar, everyday, the do nothing option, is risk free. Not only is that not true, but especially not when you’re reminded- as I was that night in Pucon- life isn’t simply about ticking off the days. It’s about what you do with those days.
When I think about rowing the Atlantic, I get excited. Actual butterflies in my stomach that rise up- as they’re doing now- into a big smile! For someone who searches for meaning, I can’t say I’m meant to do this challenge, but it feels right. It’s given me a real sense of purpose and strangely, of belonging. When I told my mum and dad they kindly said that my life is precious. Exactly. That’s why its too risky not to row the Atlantic.
(Incidentally Vikki took me for my first climbing lesson. I got the bug, booked on a course and that’s how I met Jess & Caroline!)
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