The enthusiast

As we crept into the night, I was relieved to see lights sprinkle over the horizon. After 10 days out at sea, land was now in sight. It signified the end of a 1200 nautical mile sail up from Puerto Vallarta to San Diego, and the start of a road trip up the coast of California. I didn't have much to complain about. At all. As we tied up on the dock I stopped to reflect on moments that summed up the epic journey. Mornings were greeted with dolphins playing along the bow, wales breaching as we tacked along the Baja coastline. As night fell, the sky lit up the barren Mexican coastline, leaving one marvelling in awe. A bittersweet ending I guess, yet what lies ahead is always worth moving on to, isn't it? Final goodbyes were made as the long drive up Pacific Highway One awaited. I always tried to envision what a drive along the California coastline would be like, and it sure measured up. 

Seemingly endless winding roads along the Big Sur left your neck irritated as you struggled to keep up with all the breathtaking views. Endless beaches were met by the unforgiving Pacific Ocean, rumbling and howling as waves swept up onshore. The place sure was alive. 

Upon arriving in Santa Cruz, the plan was to use Tom’s place in the boatyard as a place to crash. Sure enough, 5 days into our stay, the landlord came and kicked us out. Plan? What plan? When do things ever go to plan? Being pretty much homeless, I started to reach out to whoever I had met in those few days. Be it a living room couch or a tent in the backyard, anything would have been fine at the time. After a few phone calls I managed to sort out a room at Dave Robinson’s house, a guy I had met for literally 2 hours, 3 days prior.

When it comes to ‘the’ outdoorsmen, Dave definitely tops my list. At 53 years of age, this man lives and breathes adventure. If he’s not charging down the redwood forest on his mountain bike you’d find him at Davenport, the mecca for windsurfers in California, were he’s made his mark as a local legend, ripping through the unforgiving ocean. 

Ill never forget walking past Dave’s desk one day and coming across a page from an edition of Outside Magazine that he had stuck behind his computer. It read:

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourself out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.” Edward Abbey

I read this over and over, as it somehow really struck me to the core. I discussed this with Dave who spoke to me about how he made this his life mission. This ultimately lead him to run a personal training company focused on mountain biking, in addition to Inspired Stewardship, an initiative dedicated towards increasing awareness about preserving the world’s health. 

As we ended that discussion, I headed out for a long run along the Santa Cruz coastline, leaving me pretty impressed yet also irritated. It really got me thinking. Why should I be so surprised that there actually are people out their focused on building their own life, and not just an endless resume? It could be argued that intellectually, we all know that true fulfilment is not a functional status. Nonetheless, we all catch ourselves repeating the mantra, if only I had X then I would be happy. 

Modern day philosopher Alain de Botton recently noted how “our minds are susceptible to the influence of external voices telling us what we require to be satisfied, voices that may drown out the faint sounds emitted by our souls and distract us from the careful, arduous task of accurately naming our priorities.”

If there could be one take away from this, it would be to spend more time looking inside than outside. At an age where endless validity is portrayed through social media, it is vital to close those eyes and just have a little faith. One will be surprised at how ‘magically’ one would start to live the life that is only dreamt of, and an infinite amount of amazing people, just like Dave Robinson, would appear along the way, inspiring one to be truly authentic.