Saturday, January 17, 2009
"Enlightened debauchery" is the enticing tagline for the Mindshare events series in Los Angeles - and although (as far as I saw) the debauchery extended no further than an open bar and a few smokers out the back, the tagline fits the vibe. Enlightenment has surely never been so much fun.
Ten days ago I had given a talk at the Pacific-Union Club in San Francisco, organized by the redoutable Ed Osgood, 90 years old and world tennis champion in his age class (I find myself wondering how much higher the age classes go). Ed recently married the vivacious Josette (go, Ed!) and it was she who created this opportunity in LA - she rang up her son, Doug Campbell, latterly of Tuxedo Travels and now the originator and organizer of Mindshare - and told him he had to meet me.
So after the venerable audience of the P-UC, and an equally distinguished audience at the St Francis Yacht Club last Wednesday, it was a big change to find myself talking to 200+ hip young things assembled in a nightclub-ish Hangar 1018, around the corner from a strip club in downtown LA.
After an hour or so of mingling and making the most of the open bar, the presentations began. I was a last-minute addition to the program, so I had just 5 mins. And I wanted to show my video which lasts 4 mins. So I just said a few very carefully chosen words - something like this:
"It was the year 2000, and I was supposed to be happy. I had it all - the well-paid job as a management consultant, a big house in west London, a successful husband and a little red sports car. But there was something wrong with this picture. I didn't feel fulfilled. I didn't feel I was contributing anything to the greater good. I felt I was here for a purpose - as we all are - and I didn't know what it was, but I was pretty sure that management consultancy wasn't it...
...Fast forward to March 2006. I am all alone, on a tiny rowboat, bobbing around somewhere in the western Atlantic. I am homeless, penniless, and divorced. All four of my oars have broken and I've had to fix them up. It's been 3 months since my last hot meal. I've had no communications since my satellite phone broke 24 days ago. I've got saltwater sores on my backside and tendonitis in my shoulders. But I've never been happier - because at last, I have found my life purpose. I am rowing across oceans to raise environmental awareness. I am realizing my dream, one stroke at a time."
And then I showed the DVD. And then a Q&A. It seemed to have made quite an impact. Many people came up to me for the rest of the evening - either with questions or just to say thanks for the inspiration.
What really seemed to have resonated was the search for purpose, connection, leaving a legacy. It reminded me that although raising environmental awareness is a key part of what I try to do, the message is so much more than that. It's bringing awareness to EVERY aspect of living.
I regularly ask myself, am I living according to my values? Am I being true to my purpose? Am I heading in the right direction? Or am I spending too much time on those day-to-day details that, in the final reckoning, will be revealed as nothing but distractions and diversions?
And here endeth the sermon. Thursday night reminded me also that life is not to be taken too seriously - and that seeking enlightenment can be a great big enormous load of FUN!
Various bits of equipment for the boat (VHF radio, GPS etc) have been delivered to Hawaii, awaiting my arrival there next week. I still haven't found any under-cover storage on Oahu that I can afford - so do please contact me if you have any ideas.
Last Monday I met a fantastic bunch of women in Vallejo, at the home of Kathy Robinson. She and I rowed on the Greek Trireme in 1988. We watched the video of our crew slogging our way around the Aegean in a smelly, sweaty, ship - like Ben Hur but with frightening 80's haircuts. How times have changed - from a crew of 170 to a crew of 1...
Had a great meeting in Palo Alto with Dr Margot Gerritsen of the Smart Energy Show to talk about how to reduce CO2 emissions and, ironically, the joys of travel.
Also met with Meng at Google - Meng was one of the early Googleers, and is now their kind of brand evangelist. His wall of fame includes pictures with the Dalai Lama, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, and countless others - a veritable who's who of the 21st century. During a tour of the campus and lunch we pretty much covered the meaning of life, the universe and everything - and Copenhagen and the Nobel Peace Prize. I'll be back at Google next month to speak - I can't wait!
Plus various meetings in association with the short film of Limitless Horizon - being created for release in early October to coincide with my book of the same name, which is partly about my Atlantic row in 2005-6, but more about my transformation from office worker to ocean rower.
And, of course, I was reunited with my podcast guru Leo Laporte, at TWiT Cottage in Petaluma to record a new episode of Roz Rows The Pacific. It hasn't appeared on the website yet, but hopefully will soon. Enjoy!