Following on from my last blog post, I am continuing the series of offcuts from my forthcoming book, “Stop Drifting, Start Rowing: One Woman’s Search for Happiness and Meaning Alone on the Pacific”, due to be published on October 15th this year. Please drop me a message if you would like an email reminder when the book becomes available.
There is nothing like twenty-foot waves to remind you that, as far as nature is concerned, we are just another animal. For much of the Atlantic voyage, my first ocean, I took it terribly personally that the ocean was being so mean to me. Winds would blow me backwards. Waves would tip my boat this way and that, and occasionally right over. Currents would whisk me off course. These things happened so often that I couldn’t believe it was just bad luck. There seemed to be a malevolent will at work. A wave would come along at precisely the wrong moment and slosh into my dinner mug, swamping my meal in cold, salty water, or would soak me just as I was about to retire to my cabin for the night.
I tried to figure out what the ocean was trying to teach me. According to the traditional hero’s tale, the hero is made to suffer so that he can learn an important lesson. When he makes this breakthrough, he is rewarded with the removal of obstacles and unimpeded progress towards his goal. For a long time I thought that if only I could work out what lesson I was supposed to draw from my sufferings, the ocean would relent and let me pass.
Eventually I realized that the ocean was not rearranging the laws of physics purely for my edification. It is not a sentient being. The ocean was completely and utterly indifferent. It was not trying to teach me anything. It was simply doing what oceans do.
Likewise, nature will not wreak revenge on us for having made such a mess of our planet. Whether we deserve to live or die is not a moral question. Nature does not recognize right and wrong, deserving and undeserving. Our survival is a simple question of practicality. We are fundamentally changing the ecology of Planet Earth. We evolved to survive and thrive in Environment X, but through our own actions we are transforming it into Environment Y. And we will get our just deserts, not in a moral sense but as the inevitable consequence of those changes that we ourselves have wrought.
We like to think that we are special, and to an extent we are, but nonetheless we are still a part of nature, and we need to recognize our interdependence with the animals, vegetables and minerals of the Earth. We need them more than they need us. Nature does not exist solely to serve our needs. We currently labour under the delusion that we can continue exploiting it indefinitely, but this take-take-take relationship cannot last. Nature operates on a give-and-take basis. Ultimately, the balance will redress itself.
Next blog post: every action counts.
A few months ago I did an interview with Benny Ho for his e-book, The Accidental Career. The book is now available, and you can get a 30% discount if you go to this website and quote this code: SHV47J5E. You will see that one of my colleagues from the Yale World Fellows Program, Patrick Struebi, is another one of the “accidental” interviewees.
If you’re thinking of a career change this year, I hope you will find inspiration in these pages. Here is the description of the book, to whet your appetite…..
How do people find fulfilling careers? How did they get there? Why did they choose those paths? How much of it was planned? How much of it was accidental?
With these questions in mind, this book started as a simple, crowdfunded project:
4 months. 70 interviews. 1 book to shed light into how people “fell” into careers they love rather than walked into careers they planned.
The result is a select collection of full-length interviews with individuals who discovered their careers through an unplanned morphological process rather than in a singular trajectory with foreseeable steps and landings. The inspiration for this book comes from author Benny Ho’s personal experience (architectural designer, McKinsey consultant, internet entrepreneur, and now writer), as well as countless stories of individuals who labored in uninspiring jobs yet never had the courage or opportunity to break the mold. In such, the objective of this book is to highlight how regular people have found linkages in disparate life experiences and have connected the dots into fulfilling careers.
– Consultant > turned > World Adventurer and 4-time World Record Holder (that’s me!!)
– Rocket Scientist > turned > Country Managing Director of JP Morgan
– Professional Motorcycle Racer > turned > Lawyer
– Advertising Professional > turned > Food Truck Owner
– Banker > turned > Condom Tailor (!!!)
– Paper Salesman > turned > Sports Marketing Pioneer
– Comedian > turned > Gold Expert and Financial Columnist
– … and more!