I have an interview scheduled for Wednesday this week for a second job, and I am freaking out. Am I good enough for the position? Do I need an extra challenge in my life? Mainly: Am I going to be able to utter an intelligent word in front of the panel of interviewers?
In the midst of my self-induced misery last night, I received the news of Stanley Paris abandoning his ambitious plans of a record-breaking circumnavigation. A day later, I am still in absolute shock, just as his thousands of followers probably are.
Kiwi Spirit, a state of the art, custom-made 63” yacht “specifically designed for Paris’ ultimate goal of sailing solo around the globe, non-stop, unassisted and completely green” (Van Liew, 2012) failed him!
The first time I read about Paris’s planned endeavor was about two years ago, and I was beyond impressed. At age 75, he took up the challenge of breaking Dodge Morgan’s 1986 record of circumnavigating the globe in 150 days 1 hour 6 minutes, unassisted and nonstop, except he wanted to do it totally green. Pretty ambitious goal.
Paris started designing Kiwi Spirit in 2010, and involved the engineers of Farr Yacht Design, and the executors of Lyman-Morse Boatbuilding. The result was a racing/cruising yacht only millionaires dare to dream about.
Six months before Paris’s departure, Chinese Goo Chuan, 47, broke Dodge Morgan’s record by completing the voyage in 137 days, 20 hours, 1 minute and 57 seconds. Dr. Paris was facing a new challenge at this point, but he still had plenty of records to break, including the oldest person circumnavigating, and relying on pure green energy.
Press releases, interviews, and farewell parties followed, and finally Paris was ready to leave on November 30th, 2013, at 4 p.m. By then the engine had been sealed off, and the magnificent boat was practically gutted from all comfort to accommodate an efficient, solo sea voyage. The bad juju started on the first day: the winds were so rough that the captain of the towboat assigned to navigate the Kiwi Spirit out of the St. Augustine City Marina put a stop on the project. Departure was delayed till the next morning.
At last, Stanley Paris was on his way with a world class ground support crew that included not only his team of boat builders, engineers, and designers, but also personal weather advisers, health and mental specialists, and 2,000 plus followers. During the first 30 days of his trip, he endured conditions with no wind to more than enough wind, a shredded foresail, injury resulting from a fall, depression, and other obstacles that off -shore sailors face. Then, his January 11th blog announced the end of the trip.
My first reaction was that with all the support he had, how come he could not pull through. None of us sailors have the system of professional experts Paris had at his fingertips. His boat was built for the trip, unlike the boat most of us have, yet I know of people who have circumnavigated even without a GPS. Nobody is interested in my blood pressure, let alone my journal entry about my mental state in times of crisis at sea, and Paris had experts assigned to watch even those features of his adventure. So, how come he gave up, especially after the inflated media coverage, at least two years of planning, and an undoubtedly preposterous amount of money invested into this trip?
It does not matter. Only a day after the news of his quitting, I realize that it’s not the point. We all have our dreams, and we all go about it in different ways. The fact is that Stanley Paris is still my hero, and he will remain my hero forever. The reason is not his past achievements or his latest, failed endeavor, but his undying spirit. He seems to celebrate the goals he sets up for himself more than the successful accomplishment of those goals. On January 8th, two days before aborting the trip, he wrote, “…throughout my adventurous life words and phrases like “inaccessible,” “you can’t do that,” “it’s not possible,” and “there is no way,” and even at times “no entry,” have been nothing but challenges to me… and at times led me into hot water. And so, I find myself here in the South Atlantic, approaching the formidable Southern Ocean because when some said “you’re too old for that,” “you’ll be lonely, over exerted, you can’t cook,” “you won’t be able to find the time” and other such remarks, they were the words that made it even more likely that I would give it a try. It is within my norms and what my life has been all about to challenge. Challenge, adventure, pushing the envelope, and striving for, but not always attaining, success. Never…never being handicapped by the fear of failure.” (Paris, 2014.)
Regardless of how I feel about Stanley Paris’s journey, I have learned at least one essential lesson from this outstanding adventurer: my upcoming job interview is a very small fish in the sea of life.
Thank you, Dr. Paris, for helping me put my immediate issues into perspective! You are an inspiration even in your failure.