On September 17th, 2007, Nick Jaffe, a 26-year-old artist and web programmer, set sail on what would be an epic, life changing experience. His plan was to sail singlehandedly from the UK to his home in Australia. What sets Jaffe apart from other sailors who have attempted similar voyages is that he had no significant sailing experience; he didn’t even own a boat! Not to mention, he didn’t have the money to support his improbable idea to sail around the world. All odds were against Jaffe, but nothing could stop him — he was fixed on the idea of this voyage and there was no turning back. Jaffe purchased a 26-foot, 1972 Contessa on credit; his adventure had officially begun.
I have always been fascinated by adventures such as Jaffe’s — adventures that push an individual into unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory and test that person’s limits. This is what Jaffe’s voyage was all about, learning more about himself, his abilities and limitations, and the world around him. When I interviewed Jaffe, he told me that “life is short,” and he wanted to experience something “rare, sublime, and unknown . . . an extraordinary experience that was mine, of my own making, of my own creation.” When I first learned of Jaffe’s voyage, I thought such a trip was ill advised, if not impossible given his lack of sailing experience. But this is what makes Jaffe stand out to me, and from other sailors and adventurers alike. This trip, and his determination to make this voyage a reality, are truly inspiring. Jaffe had a dream, and was willing to do anything to make it happen. Not even his lack of funds, sailing experience, and the inherent risks of sailing around the world alone could keep him from trying.
Jaffe did not seek to become famous; he did not set out planning to blog about his trip, then negotiate a book deal and eventually sell movie rights. For Jaffe, it was about the experience of the trip itself, “to be alone, to be self reliant, and stand truly on my own two feet.” He wasn’t thinking about what lay ahead or what was the “right” next step, but was living in the moment and fully enjoying the present. I try to live my life in this way — each step is just as important as the goal itself. In today’s society, it seems that most people do not live this way, especially in my generation (the Millennials) . We focus obsessively on what lies ahead, rather than fully experiencing the joys and challenges of today. There are too many things in our lives that we feel that we need to accomplish, not for the sake of the pursuit itself, but for some society-prescribed “to do list.” When does it all stop? When do we take a break from looking forward, and focus our attention on living in, and learning from the present? The way we live today will inevitably shape our futures. Jaffe has inspired me to do exactly that; to live in, and appreciate, the present. I hope to one day, pursue an adventure similar to Jaffe’s. It may not involve sailing around the world, but my adventure will take me out of my comfort zone, push me to my limits, and allow me to experience this world differently and fully. Most importantly, this journey will be of my own making, and allow me to learn more about myself and my place in the world.