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Pushing the Outer Edge

Updated on April 28, 2012

First gear ...

I'm intrigued by people who continually push the limits of human potential. In any form. Like having a Formula 1 racing car and going ten miles an hour, I don't believe we often come close to using our full abilities. I've written about our emotional and intellectual capacity in other hubs, but this one's about physical potential and guts.


"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” ~ Helen Keller


I love Outside magazine. It's one of the few periodicals I actually read. The latest issue talks about people who have ascended Mount Everest. Not something I currently have on my bucket list, but there's still time. Last December, I ran my first marathon, and believe I'm still only going ten miles an hour. Maybe eleven.

In the article titled 2012 Outside Adventurers of the Year , it profiles the men and women on the "knife's edge of exploration" - those who explore mankind's outer limits. For example, it profiles a group that survived the Congo River’s Inga Rapids, the world’s largest by volume. Not only is the country of Congo incredibly perilous - think Joseph Kony country - but, as the article describes, "with whirlpools 40 feet across, 20-foot waves (as big as the ones surfers ride at Maverick’s), and boils 15 feet high, this 50-mile stretch of rapids 150 miles from Kinshasa rages at 1.6 million cubic feet per second. That’s a torrent four times the volume of the Mississippi forced into a channel one-fifth as wide."

“If we had known how dangerous these rapids were, we wouldn’t have taken them on,” says Steve Fisher, who took over as expedition leader after the original expedition leader was killed by a crocodile eleven months earlier.

Hard core stuff.

Laura Dekker
Laura Dekker | Source

Second gear ...

The article profiles a number of adventurers, including Felicity Aston, who became the first solo woman to traverse 1,084 miles across Antarctica on skis, and 16-year-old Laura Dekker, who completed her first solo sail around-the-world. Whether I would, or whether she should have is not the issue. She did, and that's remarkable.

I'm not a thrill seeker. In fact when I was younger, I was afraid of my own shadow. I recall my brother telling me I once said that I would never get hurt because I was always going to be careful. That changed as I got older. Now. if you were with me and you mentioned me you were afraid of heights, I would probably schedule us for a skydiving excursion. If you were afraid of the dark, I'd hold you by the hand and take you boldly out into the blackness. If you said you're freaked out by squid, I'd order us calamari!

You can't let fear control you and that's exactly what it does.


"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear." ~ Ambrose Redmoon

Third gear ...

We're not getting out of this place alive. That is one of life's absolutes. I don't have any intention of hastening it, but I'm not going to be shy about making sure mine is lived without withering away at the possibility of something bad happening.

I want to make sure any new challenge I tackle; however, is worth my time and energy. When I've completed a goal, I pause to reflect on what moves me next. Interestingly, this year I am focusing on publishing my first two novels - not a physical feat but definitely on the level of challenge equal or greater than many.

I recently stumbled across the concept of adventure philanthropy, embodied by organizations like Road Monkey, which promotes trips like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, and then coming down and building a organic farm in Zanzibar, cycling the northwest highlands of Vietnam, then renovating an orphanage, or going whitewater rafting in Peru, followed by building greenhouses for a remote Andean village. Meaningful challenge.

I accelerate. In second gear, and the engine's racing. I pop the clutch and thrust it into third.

Today, on my 48th birthday, I see myself continuing to ascend, climb, and grow. And see no need to slow down or stop. There will come a time - probably much too soon - when it will be difficult to continue pushing the limits forward.

Until then, the world's an open road.


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    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Thank you, shiningirisheyes. Me too. I picked up Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway years ago and had this grand voila that it's not about whether it scares us, but whether we face things those things that scare us. That's where true self-confidence and strength lies. I salute you for conquering skydiving, and I really appreciate your encouraging words!


    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      6 years ago from Upstate, New York

      I could completely relate to this hub. As a person who has always been afraid of heights and now skydives, I so appreciated and enjoyed reading this. I have always been someone who just had to face fear although completely terrified when doing so. I am an ardent follower and will be submerging myself in more of what your hubs have to offer. Voting this up, up, up.

    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Thanks JamaGenee - exactly! I doesn't matter that I'm not particularly driven either to want to do the Grand Slam; the fact that people are pushing the limits is fascinating. It just leads to sense of wonder of what's next. When the limits of possibility are pushed, amazing things can happen. I appreciate your support!


    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 

      6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Funny, last night I watched a PBS interview with Alison (forget her last name now) who's done the "Grand Slam" - climbed five major peaks and skiied to both poles (South and North). She had some great pearls of wisdom on pushing the envelope and overcoming fear. I'm not an aficionado of physically-punishing pursuits, but it was an enlightening interview nonetheless, as is this hub.

      billrrr will no doubt be thrilled to know she didn't mention lobsters, so perhaps he's one up on her in that department after taking on a pair of them last night at Clancy's. ;D

      Voted up and awesome!

    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Be strong, billrrr - let me know if you need any help with those!


    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 

      6 years ago from Cape Cod

      Nice hub Gerg. It's a sunny Sunday on Cape Cod and I seem to feel fearful of lobsters.

      I think I will head to Clancy's on Lower County Road in Dennis, and take on a pair of them. I'm trembling but this must be done!

    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      internpete - thanks for your comment; it's great to have someone with whom to share them.

      Klara, don't get me wrong - I'm not an extreme sports aficianado, though I do like to push the envelope and have some kind of carrot in front to keep me on the edge of learning something new. I spent the day at the beach today, by the way - thought you should know! ;-)


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Well, Happy Birthday to you! Sounds like today is the first day of your life. I love your enthusiasm and drive to live life to the fullest.

      I love the outdoors, but I'm kind of a wimp myself. I'm allergic to anything that moves, and I tend to freak out whenever I'm in a situation I can't physically control. But I admire people who take risks and put their fears behind. It's a great gift to be able to do this.

      Beautiful article. Thanks!

    • internpete profile image

      Peter V 

      6 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

      Very interesting and also inspiring! I love adventures, and I have a brother who loves them even more! Makes for some very exciting times when we are together.

    • Gerg profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from California

      Thanks Genna! It just seemed an appropriate topic today.


    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I believe in pushing the envelope now and then, but not at the risk of my own life. Sometimes the gypsy calls within, and there’s that open road; it’s always enticing. But pushing limits is something we definitely want to do while we still can.

      Interesting read, and those photos are superb as well.

      I wish you the best of luck in your search, ascent, and growth, and in publishing those two novels.


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