This is a letter that I wrote to my kids, several years ago, June 23, 2012 to be exact, just before going to the Yukon River Quest, a 444-mile canoe race — www.yukonriverquest.com. I am posting it here today.
Dear Oliver and Simon,
You have seen me going training countless hours in the past 6 months, you have seen me lost in dreams and thoughts and questions over this race, you have heard me tirelessly speaking about it, and you have seen me prepare my luggage today.
With this letter, maybe in a few years once you will have grown a bit more, you will be able to read the main reasons why I decided to do this challenge, what it means to me, and what in the process I’d like you to humbly learn from me.
The “Such A Blast” feeling: At the end of my first Molokai Hoe race (42 miles, Outrigger Canoe 6 men, 6 hours), I felt what I now call “The Such A Blast” feeling. When you reach your limits, after having trained hard and given your best, being exhausted by the physical and mental effort, emotions certainly are overwhelming. After crossing this finish line October 10th, 2010, tears of pure joy fell from my eyes as uncontrollable emotions invaded my whole body. I felt immensely happy, and I realized that emotions like that makes life so beautiful. That day, I promised myself to seek this feeling again, and again, and again. After having trained for 6 months now, I am SURE this “Such A Blast” feeling is waiting for me after these 55 hours, in Dawson, Yukon Territories, Canada. I can’t wait.
Converting a vision into reality: I have always considered myself a dreamer, always listening to the craziness (and limitless) of my heart’s dreams. Travel around the world, live in various countries, etc. “Follow your heart!” have I always told myself. But remember being a dreamer is not enough if you do not convert your dreams into reality. It is important to be a doer as well. Once you make it happen, that’s when the dream takes all its dimension and you feel this powerful feeling that makes you want to go even further.
Doing your best to reach a goal: If you give yourself high challenges, you will find that “good” is not good enough. You have to give your best. No goal is too high for you. The higher the goal, the more you have to bring up your game for it. You will be surprised by your own capabilities. Aim high, do your best, never quit, you’ll get there.
Believing in yourself and breaking the barriers: Once you have set your mind on a project, there will be plenty of reasons to change your mind and NOT do it. Sometimes the reasons might be coming from yourself, sometimes these might come from others. Don’t listen to the people that don’t believe in your dreams and tell you it’s not reasonable. That’s because it bothers them for you to be limitless while they are not. Believe in your own capacities, believe in your purpose, believe in yourself, and break any barriers that come in front of you.
Life is an adventure: For me this statement is SO true and we must never forget it. We are so lucky to be Alive. Life itself is an adventure and we tend to forget it, being caught on our daily routine. Each moment of life should be an adventure and let’s look at life like that each day: let’s be optimistic, daring, challenging. It is your decision to make your life an adventure, nobody else’s.
Step outside of your comfort zone: “Life waits for us outside our comfort zone”. I don’t remember who said that quote but it speaks to me. The more you go off the beaten path, the more you will find rewarding feelings. Saying where you are and playing what you know how to play won’t bring you happiness. The more you step outside your comfort zone, the more you will feel Alive. This challenge sure will take me outside of my limits!
First time of unknown challenges: it does not matter the size of the challenge you chose to take. What matters is that you take them. The first time I did a 40-minute race, that was a challenge. The first time I did a 6-hour race, that was a huge challenge. The first time I did a 9-hour paddle, that was another challenge. Now I’m going for this 50+ hours race, that sure is a challenge. Who knows what will be coming next? What is sweet is to push your boundaries and reach for new challenges each time, no matter what the challenge is. If it is a challenge for you at this time in your life, it is worth taking.
Just one life, live it now: I feel like I am kind of repeating myself, but how louder could I be? Enjoy the moment, enjoy the people you meet, enjoy the simple things, enjoy the luck you have to be alive and harvest this life of yours!! You have just one life and you must live it 100%. This race is about 1 week in my life. It is not much compared to my 35 years of existence. But this week, shared with great friends, is representative of the intend I have to “embrace life”! I intend to live life at full and I wish you to do the same.
Meeting The Being, feeling the Oneness: One more big reason to do this race. Some call it God, some call it differently. After reading Eckhart Tolle’s books, I like to call it the Being. I like Eywa too. I wish that during and after this experience I will have a greater sense of the oneness of this world and my position in it. Is it linked to the “Such A Blast” feeling? By reaching my inner limits and being closer to raw emotions, by being immerged into Nature, by being surrounded by people I love, I am going into a condition where I am more sensitive and sensible to the existence of the Being. I truly hope I will feel it and I look forward to that.
To my kids, to my family and friends, and as my friend Matt asked me earlier this year, I am asking you today: “What would YOU do if you just had one year left to live?”
Yours in Adventure, Cyril