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One amazing trait of us humans is that we are probably the only animal on earth that takes endeavors that have no “real” useful purpose. We run marathons, we climb mountains, we swim across lakes, we bike continents, we cross oceans.

I happen to have done the later, this last summer of 2016. For a grueling 39 days, 9 hours and 56 minutes, I rowed in an ocean boat, in a team of 4 men, each from a different nationality, from Monterey, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii, as part of the Great Pacific Race.

Why would anyone want to do this? Why would you risk your life when you have no reasons to do so? Why would you spend so much money and time for this adventure that will not bring you anything tangible? Why would you risk your life when you have the responsibility to care for a family, kids, and loved ones? When you have a good job and a comfortable house and a cozy life?

Why would you row for up to 12 hours a day, on 90-minute shifts, 24 hours a day, all day, all night, day-in and day-out, for a month and a half, in the heat of the sun and the cold of the night, forcing yourself to ingest up to 8,000 calories a day but still losing 20 pounds when you get there, risking storms and hurricanes, avoiding at all cost collisions with the numerous container ships, eating cold rehydrated freeze dried foods that become tasteless, drinking bland desalinized water from a machine that could break down at any time, sleeping in a damp sleeping bag in a tiny cabin where you can only sit down, overcoming seasickness and fighting fevers, pooping in a bucket and using only baby-wipes to wash yourself, hurting every muscle and joint and nerve of your body, making your mind go crazy and hallucinate out of sleep deprivation and effort, when…. You can just fly there in a mere 5-hour flight?

As human, we like to search for answers, to measure ourselves to nature, to push our own limits, to challenge our routines and look for something “better”. Of course, not everyone is made for those extreme endeavors, I didn’t think I was a few years back, but each one of us, at our own level I believe, has an inner call for this kind of life experience that could be judge by some to be “senseless”, “irrational”, or “unreasonable”.

We seem to do it just for the sake of it. For the experience. For the thrill of it. For feeling alive. For reasons we might not even know ourselves.

I can’t start to enumerate to you what I have learned from my ocean rowing experience, and how I felt when I finally made it to shore in Hawaii, welcomed by my loved ones, with a Guinness World record to hang at the wall. What I can tell you is that now I am different in a way that I can’t really describe. Better? I don’t know. I do enjoy the simple pleasures of life such as a soft pillow, a warm shower, a hot dish or a cold ice cream, a fresh fruit, a soft kiss or a loving hug from tiny arms.

Did I really need to be so unreasonable to learn all this? Maybe not. Maybe I did. Maybe you don’t, maybe you do?

My advice to you, should you wish to take it, is that no matter what type of endeavor you decide to pursue, one thing remains true which is that we just have one life, and I believe it is worth living to the fullest, even if it at times, it means being a little bit….. unreasonable.

  • Cyril Derreumaux

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