Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old girl vying to be the youngest person ever to solo circumnavigate the world in a sailboat, ran into trouble when she had to be rescued in the Southern Ocean. Her boat, Wild Eyes, had its mast snapped by the violent storms occurring during the antarctic winter.
A lot of helicopter parents are cluck-clucking about this in the Internet forums. But she could’ve been killed, they’ll say. That’s exactly the point. She could’ve been killed but instead she took a chance to live her dream. Better that than to die slowly knowing you were too afraid to go for what you wanted. To really live.
I have little issue with what Abby did. She has grown up in a sailing family and has been sailing all of her life, so she and her boat were well-equipped for the journey. In other words, Abby is not your typical teenager taking the family boat for a joyride. The only thing I would question is sailing the Southern Ocean in the dead of winter. The weather in that area of the world doesn’t play around, and most sailors would be challenged by it. Abby is lucky she had the ability to send a distress call as she might easily have not gotten the chance. But good for her for trying!
I sure wish I was in the position Abby is in – to be able to chase those dreams. Before you know it, grown-up life takes over and your existence gets defined by what happens inside cubicle walls. Some fortunate souls manage to rise above it but most of us adventurers must postpone our journeys until the demands of family, work, or other obligations are satisfied.
I will be cheering Abby on when she returns to the helm, and should my kids wish to someday follow in her footsteps or forge their own adventurous paths I will be behind them all the way. As they say, life is not a spectator sport.