There are some people who love and enjoy pushing themselves to their limits, to seek adventure and thrills that others would probably deem a bit mental. I am definitely not one of these people – the closest I get to an adventure fuelled adrenaline rush is when I manage to carry a mug of coffee without spilling any of it – but Laura Potts of Dumb Little Man wants to know: are you?
Do you hanker to hike the Appalachian Trail? Care to climb Kilimanjaro? Dream of daunting feats of physical fortitude? The wife of a wilderness junkie would like to hear why. There is a point when most men, no matter how derring do their attitude, might decide that the prospect of combining saltwater and blisters in sensitive spots is a discomfort too far.
And then there’s my husband.
Now I’m not saying he has acquired any of the aforementioned salt-stung-sore-behind symptoms – yet. But it’s just one of the tantalizing prospects I’ve asked him to consider in his blinkered quest to row the Atlantic.
In a tiny boat.
You read that right. We are now deep in the throes of his latest (PleaseLetMeGoAwayForThreeMonthsMinimum(ButPossiblyForever) attempt to conquer the greatest, most challenging physical and mental endurance test he can think of.
Best case scenario, this involves him achieving his lifelong goal in a matter of months, in one piece, with a job (and wife and four kids) when he returns, super fit and with a tan to put David Hasselhoff to shame. Not that he, or especially I, have any aspirations for him to emulate The Hoff in any conceivable way whatsoever.
Worst case scenario doesn’t bear putting into words, but let’s say that blisters on any part of his body would be the least of any of our worries.
So are you one of these guys who believes life is lived to the fullest with some extreme physical challenge to work toward? And if so, can you please explain to the rest of us what drives you to want to risk everything – your bodily and psychological well-being, your loved ones, the home and work life you’ve worked so hard to create – when you could scale back to something that makes more sense to the majority of the world? Like spending a meaningful afternoon with a chainsaw, a brush pile and some matches, for instance?
I’m not saying men should be complacent or lazy or never strive to achieve something monumental, especially just because they’ve chosen to marry and have children. We all deserve to have individual aspirations and realize our dreams. What’s more, in many cases – my husband’s included – the biggest challenge is not the physical aspect but the fundraising for charity, and that’s an admirable goal.
But no matter how many times he tries to explain that rowing the Atlantic, a 3,000-mile test of human will against the elements, is what drives him to get out of bed in the morning, I still don’t get it. The comforts of home, it seems, are no match for the wide open sea – sharks, sunstroke, sheer boredom and all.
He’s not having a midlife crisis: this has been in the works since we met in early 2004. At that time, he was well into the planning stages of his oceanic mission, but our whirlwind marriage, my move to another continent to be with him and a couple of kids in quick succession – joining the two daughters he was already raising – put those efforts on hold. For a while I foolishly believed we, his family, were enough to have knocked him to his senses, but I’m beginning to see that love might conquer all, as long as there’s still room for conquering the occasional physical exploit.
So at the time of writing, he’s established a fund that he’s enthusiastically finding new and ever more bonkers ways of contributing to (no franchise coffee shop’s couches will go un-pilfered for loose change when he’s around); he has the skeleton of a support team in place; and his exercise routines are ratcheting up in anticipation of a December 2015 launch from Spain’s Canary Islands, Antigua-bound.
Others might chalk up his behavior to the unrealistic fantasies of a big-talking dreamer. But he’s certainly no bigmouth, and I’ve seen him complete every challenge he’s set his mind to, from climbing the highest mountain in Europe – twice – to cycling the length of Great Britain, only stopping to hike the Three Peaks (Mount Snowdon in Wales, Scafell Pike in England and Ben Nevis in Scotland) along the way. Much as I might wish otherwise, this is no midlife crisis that starts out as a plan to buy a yellow Porsche 911 and ends with a souped-up Ford Fiesta. This man starts as he means to go – or rather, row – on.
Nor is he a selfish oaf who lacks emotional intelligence. With every marathon, biking challenge or other endurance test, he’s raised significant money for, and awareness of, important causes, such as help for abused and neglected children. He works in a demanding health care role that requires empathy and patience and, moreover, he’s a caring, thoughtful husband and devoted, involved dad. Still.
There must be others out there with similar ambitions. And if you’re anything like my husband, you’d probably like your chance to explain why your desires to push the boundaries and live a life less ordinary are still compatible with being a good partner, father, man. So here’s your chance.
Just don’t expect the rest of us to sympathize with your blisters.
Laura Potts is a writer and editor living the American dream – in rural England. Before moving across the pond in 2005, she was a staff reporter for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. She has no ambitions to row across a puddle, much less an ocean.
Are You A ‘Call Of The Wild Man’ Willing To Risk Everything? | Dumb Little Man
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