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This is a guest submission by Torre from FearfulAdventurer.com

I remember the first time I thought: This is what life is about? Work to live? Live to work? What is the point?

I was 21 years old when I landed my first professional job after university. Having just moved out of my parents’ home to be near the center of business in Melbourne city, the reality of having a full-time career struck like a steam train to my guts.

All I could do was cry.

My job was fun: I had a lovely boss who mentored me as a graphic designer, and took me out for many lazy lunches. Art has always been my passion, and someone was actually paying me to do it. The design studio was located in a funky, café-strewn part of Melbourne and my job was far from the corporate cube cliché.

But still … accepting one’s own permanent life sentence isn’t easy. Eight hours a day, five days a week, forever and ever, the end. I tumbled like Alice down the rabbit hole towards a state of perpetual sadness.

Three Years Later …

At 24, I’d come to accept that being a grownup was a pretty dull affair. For five years, I’d endured a passionless relationship, assuming that all men — by nature — are emotionally numb and unaffectionate. I was convinced that life is like a box of chocolates, but a box you find in your car six months after Easter: deformed, disappointing and not nearly as promising as the packaging.

Eventually my sadness turned to recklessness. I needed to do something crazy, something extreme. An idea stirred the pit of my belly and my skin buzzed with excitement … What if I quit my job, left my relationship and embarked on a solo adventure to a foreign world for one year? Before I could over-think it, I booked a ticket to San Francisco.

In the six months before my flight, I dreamt about transforming into a new and improved version of myself. Confident. Courageous. Energetic. Alive. Go with the flow, I told myself. Open your mind to new experiences and see what comes to you. Allow yourself to be swept in a new direction. Maybe you’ll meet someone who’ll rock your world?

Along Came The Sailor …

mate

Not long after arriving in San Francisco, fate decided it’d be hilarious to give me precisely what I wished for. In a bar, I chanced upon a person who would end up rocking my world — quite literally.

Ivan was an IT professional who worked in Silicon Valley by day, and dreamed of escaping convention by night. He owned an old sailboat named Amazing Grace, and he had a date booked to throw the docklines and embark towards the islands of the South Pacific. Having just left a stagnant relationship of his own, Ivan planned to go alone.

He was gorgeous and charming, but I thought his dream was utterly crazy. Burdened with a debilitating fear of the ocean, I knew our relationship was going nowhere, but I decided we’d date, have some fun, and then part when he was due to leave nine months later.

Nine Months Later …

I’d accidentally fallen in love.

This man was a person unlike any other I’ve ever met: a person of integrity, passion, oozing affection, chutzpa and decisive action. He was absolutely fearless, and when I asked him if it scared him that he might die in a storm at sea, his response was, “No, I’m not scared. If I die while living my dream, that’ll be a good way to die.”

My year of fun in a foreign city was almost up, meaning it was time for me to return to my passionless former life. Ivan had been working overtime to subtly persuade me to join his adventure. “If you come with me,” he said, “I’ll sail you home to Australia.”

Nothing was more scary for me to imagine than traveling home on a tiny boat over the hostile Pacific Ocean, but my options were limited. I could either face my fear and go with him, or watch the man I was in love with sail away forever. The third option was to ask him to stay with me on land at the cost of his dream, but I was unwilling to make that request. Charged with fear, excitement, and curiosity, I jumped aboard and headed into uncertainty.

Going With The Flow …

We sailed for two years, traversing through many South Pacific islands, enduring big waves, accidents, frightening near-misses, and almost every possible mishap. Ivan, despite being macho and stoic, had a hilarious (and concerning) knack for provoking slapstick accidents.

We lived with island families in remote island paradises that I’d only ever seen on my computer’s screensaver. We formed deep friendships with ocean nomads: full-time sailors who feed themselves from the ocean, and work in exotic ports for spare cash.

My fear of deep water hitched a ride, but I didn’t let it stop me from exploring beneath the waves with my snorkel, or sailing from one stunning island to the next. Life at sea was lived in extremes, jumping between peaceful bliss, and hair-raising terror.

Out there, we discovered a whole new universe, a parallel existence. The ocean is an honest place and danger doesn’t hide itself. When you’re vulnerable to the wind, the waves and the storms, there are no illusions of safety. But on land, when you have a steady job, a retirement fund, 58 varieties of insurance, a big house, and ‘wise investments,’ you’re tricked into feeling safe and immortal. But you’re dying. And it doesn’t matter if you’re enduring a miserable job, a stagnant relationship … or you’re living a life of freedom and passion — you’re dying regardless.

Which means there’s nothing you need to hang on to. You can let go of the life ring and swim away from safety. Take risks. Test boundaries. Explore. Be free. For me, that has become the point of living.

Torre DeRoche is writing a book about her adventures, titled Swept – Love With A Chance Of Drowning. Follow her musings on Fearful Adventurer, or join her on Facebook and Twitter.

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