Amongst other things, social media has sanctioned the voyeuristic tendencies within many of us. Consequently it’s now okay to keep a much beadier eye on the doings of others than previously acceptable, without being considered even a little weird. Therefore, I am unashamed to admit that I get regular feeds on a few individuals through whom I vicariously enjoy adventures when reluctantly tethered to my desk, and therefore incapable of having any of my own.
Within a few weeks, a couple of these souls have embarked/are about to embark on pretty incredible personal journeys and every few days I read with a mixture of awe and envy of their latest exploits, bug-bears and conquests. One of my Facebook friends, Julian Monroe Fisher, will shortly begin walking across the belly of Africa, from the coast of Mozambique to the Atlantic in Angola. The second person is someone I regard with the same curious incomprehension as a fax machine: I have no idea what makes it tick but think it is quite marvellous in any case. Well-known ocean rower, Roz Savage, is a few days into her mammoth 4000 mile solo row across the Indian Ocean.
The blogs relate a repertoire of interesting happenings thrown across their paths (Roz seems to be frequently pelted by flying squid), and describes the very human afflictions which make life on the explorer’s pedestal sometimes less than comfy. From painful blisters to sunburn, annoying insects to homesickness... hurrah, they are mere mortals after all. I find myself searching for what motivates these people to take up the mantle of extraordinary endeavour. Much like my great grandfather, who set off from Scotland in the early 19 hundreds to carve a new life for himself in East Africa, I imagine that much of the reward comes from stepping off the well-trodden path and relishing the unexpected.
Whatever it is that galvanises such people, the interesting thing is that the inspiration they provide can come in many forms and you can take what you will from it. Whether it means choosing a different country to visit next year or throwing in a tedious job to do something on your own, pushing your physical and mental limits in running that marathon, or reading a controversial author...the message for me is that boundaries are there to be pushed and only in doing so do we make room to grow (or, less philosophically, experience the novelty of being hit in the face by air-borne seafood).