Blog By: Heather Blanchard
From early childhood we are taught to examine the outside world – that is the process of learning. And as adults, we continue to study, analyze and react to the external rather than the internal wisdom of our mind. All of this causes unnecessary stress and strain in our lives, and sometimes affects our ability to seize opportunities or try new things. Often, adults seem to lose the courage that served them as kids – perhaps due to increased responsibilities or past hurts. The definition of courage is mental or moral strength, to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
A few weeks ago my family and I watched a movie called True Spirit, based on the true story of Jessica Watson, an Australian sailor who became the youngest person ever to sail around the world. She sailed the southern hemisphere solo in a little pink boat at just 16 years old in 2009, and in order to qualify for a world sailing record, couldn’t go into a port until her journey was complete. Her courage to take this truly dangerous trek, all alone for 7 months in the open sea, is awe-inspiring. So this is really a story about how one’s passion and love for something can help them venture through anything. Like people who climb Mt. Everest, or compete in the Eco Challenge moving through vastly different climates and landscapes in races around the world.
The now-29-year-old Jessica Watson was born to a family of sailors. Her parents gave all four of their children sailing lessons at a young age, and eventually moved their entire family to live on a boat for several years.
Though the World Speed Sailing Record Council had officially discontinued its “youngest” category after 18-year-old Jesse Martin sailed around the world in 1999, Watson maintained her ambition to beat his record. With the help of her parents and managers, she geared up for a solo sailing journey around the world. It began in Sydney in October of 2009, and after a seven-month voyage, she returned home to Sydney on May 15, 2010 met by a huge cheering crowd.
But it certainly wasn’t easy! Watson sailed nearly 23,000 nautical miles by herself: through the South Pacific and across the equator, south to the tip of South America, across the Atlantic Ocean to South Africa, through the Indian Ocean, and finally back around to Australia. She kept a popular video blog throughout her journey, and was able to call her coaches and parents from almost anywhere at sea by radio. Along the way she went through several huge storms, and her boat was knocked down seven times.
“THE BIGGEST WALL YOU HAVE TO CLIMB IS THE ONE YOU BUILD UP IN YOUR MIND.” – Unknown
Throughout this journey, what kept her sane was her ability to be in contact with her family and coaches via radio. And like a yogi, Jessica used the power of mind over matter and channeled her inner calm through singing songs beloved by her family, and reminding herself to literally stay calm within the storm by believing her little pink boat would carry her to the other side through anything – even over towering waves.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ – Eleanor Roosevelt
We all have the ability to tap into great courage through strengths gained from our journey through life. But sometimes it helps to watch inspiring stories like Jessica’s to remember that life can be full of adventure, and we should relish it.