Do you have a quest?
Last week I had the privilege of hearing Chris Guillebeau speak about his new book, The Happiness of Pursuit. I’m still making my way through it, but essentially it’s about how quests can give meaning to your life. His goal was to visit every country in the world by the time he turned 35 (which he did!), and on his way he met up with other folks who had created crusades for themselves. Nate Damm walked across the United States, from east to west, and documented his journey at Nate Walks America. After Adam Warner’s wife died, he decided to complete her bucket list, which included travel destinations as well as learning how to knit, among many other things. Sasha Martin wanted to cook a meal from every country in the world, sharing the recipes and her experiences on her blog, Global Table Adventure.
And then there’s Laura Dekker.
Laura’s dream from quite a young age was to sail around the world solo. She was born on a boat, spent her first few years living on one, and when she and her father settled in the Netherlands he spent most of his free time building boats. She learned to sail when she was six — on her own freakin’ boat. Her adventure to circumnavigate the world by herself just wasn’t going away, so she planned and prepared and set off in 2010 with an itinerary that would take her approximately a year and a half to complete.
Oh, and did I mention she was only 14 when she started her journey? Yeah.
Obviously, sailing around the world solo is incredible in and of itself, but Laura wanted to be the youngest person to do it — meaning she had to complete it months before her 17th birthday. And since she wanted to make some stops along the way, she embarked on her trip at the age of 14 to give herself enough time to sail the world and see it. She set sail with no crew and no follow boat — so Maidentrip is the documentary about her journey, primarily filmed by Dekker herself.
I watched the film feeling an equal mix of excitement for her journey and also emo desperation — Sailing the world OMG combined with What am I doing with my life?! For being so young, Laura is surprisingly grounded in who she is and the goals she wants for herself, which I honestly couldn’t say about my 14 year-old self. She’s also unabashedly herself throughout the film, goofing off and full of confidence. She’s completely unafraid to document her solo dance parties or her recorder lessons, and it’s those little moments that really made the film for me, less than the drama of storms that she encounters at sea.
The film was a nice mix of getting to witness life on the water, seeing amazing locations like the Canary Islands and French Polynesia, and watching an ambitious young girl work towards her goals. I wasn’t crazy about the constant selfie shots Laura took, although I suppose I can forgive it since whatever, she’s a teenager. I think if I were sailing the world and documenting it I would go a little selfie-crazy too. But I did love how old family film footage was used with Laura narrating for us to discover more and more about her as the film progressed. By the end of the movie, I felt emotionally invested in her completing her journey. And did I cry when she finally sailed around the world and achieved her dreams?
Yes, yes I did.
What is also wonderful about this film is how supportive her family, particularly her father is of her goals. There were people who thought she was completely crazy to sail around the world at such a young age — she and her father even dealt with a 10 month court battle before she left because of naysayers. But instead of doubting her, he supported her, helped her refurbish the boat, and stock up on supplies. Instead of discouraging her from doing it, he cheered her on and helped however he could, while still allowing her to experience and deal with the challenges on her own.
It brought me back to Chris speaking at that tiny little bookshop in San Francisco, saying that there will be people who won’t believe in you. There will be challenges, there will be times you might want to give up, and not everyone will have faith in your abilities. But, as Guillebeau stated so beautifully, “Challenge is the essence of adventure.”
Maidentrip is an amazing starting point if you’re looking for a bit of motivation in figuring out your own quest, since you get to see the ups and downs of one girl’s journey firsthand. Since watching it I’ve definitely been giving a lot of thought to my own goals and aspirations. I’ve been thinking about what I’m good at, what I enjoy, and what kind of a change I’d like to make in the world. Hopefully it provides you with some inspiration as well!
Do you have a long-term goal that you’re working toward? What was your last big accomplishment (not necessarily related to a career or job path)? If money and time were no object, what do you think your big goal would be?
You can check out Maidentrip on Netflix, and head to Amazon to get The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life by Chris Guillebeau.