What I learned about life from the extreme endurance challenge of a friend?

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine, Richard Varga came up with the crazy idea to embark on what he calls an endurance mission. He had a vision to paddle all alone for more than a half year, over 4500 km in a kayak from Norway to Hungary. A “hero’s journey” no one has ever done before. He left his old life behind, sold most of his belongings and is currently somewhere halfway paddling along the coast of Germany.  

He is an experienced kayaker, but come on such a physical challenge over an extended period of time, not to speak about the unpredictable factors and myriad of dangers along his journey: the severe weather, the strong winds, the thunders, the waves and currents of the sea, the passing ships, the undercut rocks, the extreme discomfort because of cold waters, and the mental struggle.

Everyone, including me, has been asking him: Why on earth are you doing this?

And his answer is just: WHY NOT?

Last week I met him in Denmark, brought him a home-made apple pie, listened to his stories and spent a night sleeping in my car on the seaside so I could give him a big hug in the morning before he continued his adventure for the next months.

He can’t exactly remember how the idea popped up in his mind, but it electrified him, and he simply couldn’t let go of it. Richard is a loner wolf who loves the wilderness, outdoor challenges, and simple life. The vision of the endurance mission set his heart on fire.

Do you know the feeling…

when you don’t want to do things the same old predictable way?

when you want to break free from your limitations?

when you want to forge a path that has not been navigated yet before?

You hear the calling for adventure within your soul, just as Richard heard it. There is your invitation to be strong, courageous, and bold, but you fear the unknown.

Can I do it?

Can I step on this path not knowing what is expecting me?

Can I let go of control?

Richard didn’t have much of a time to pre-plan his journey in details and consider all the possibilities where it might go wrong. He roughly knew which route to take, and was determined to start in May. Looking back, he knows how crucial it has been not to overthink the journey ahead. He could have been collecting more evidence about all the risks and pitfalls of his trip, and he might not have started it at all. His fears might have kept him trapped in old circumstances, and he might have missed out on this extraordinary adventure. He had the chance to choose between remaining safe or living a remarkable life.

When he wakes up in the morning, he can’t be sure what he’ll have to face throughout the day, how nature will challenge him, where he’ll be able to stop, whom he’ll meet, where he’ll sleep, and if he’ll be able to continue the next day at all. The best he can do is being present in his experience, trying to be one with nature by using all his senses and trusting his abilities, his inner compass, and strength.

The calling for adventure you hear might be very different from such a tough physical challenge. Maybe you want to leave your current job to embark on a whole new career path, maybe you want to move to another country, maybe you want to express your creativity and write a book, or maybe you want to stop being afraid of love and let someone enter your life.

Most people believe the presence of fear means not having to take action. What I learned from Richard is that having a fear of the unknown is natural, but it shouldn’t hold us back from taking inspired and courageous actions. When we pursue a calling and break free from our self-inflicted prison of fears, we outgrow our old self and fill our life with meaning.

So, whenever an idea ignites your heart with passion, but you start hesitating, remember to ask yourself this simple question: WHY NOT?



Author: Gabriella Csanádi

Photo Source: Richard Varga