Ross Johnson final blog
I write this with 500 miles to go as we enter our final stretch. On reflection of our previous weeks adventures it strikes me how your memory morphs the days together. I am much more aware of the phenomenon of only remembering the good/exciting bits…. When I’m asked what was it like in the marines, I instantly jump into animation of amazing foreign escapades, jumping from helicopters and running round the world with big guns doing crazy shit. Drinking in bars you would not frequent in places you would not visit, meeting people you would generally avoid. They make for great memories. The top 5% of your time in the Marines. I never seem to remember the other 95%, standing guard duty on camp main gate at midnight New Year’s Eve, crawling through rivers as it was more tactical than going around, or eating frozen pork pies on the range, made by the lowest bidder with the cheapest ingredients by less than minimum wage employees. (I loved every minute of it)
I have this phenomenon creeping into me already, I’m not even on dry land yet and I recall surfing down waves at 217mph, probs faster, catching a 7 inch blue marlin in the boat that will be 7ft by the time I’ve had a few pints, how exciting the capsizes were, the leaving fanfare, etc etc…. What I am not remembering and I hope I block out and push down deep inside somewhere are the memories that will shock my inevitable psychiatrist in a few years time as I recall them in detail.
In no particular order here are three of the biggies…
1. I have seen more of every man on this boat than any man ever should. “How does this look mate I can’t see round there? It’s itchy and I can’t sit down, does it look ok?”
No. No mate it most definitely does not. It is however burned into my retinas for all eternity. Cheers buddy. My eyes have started bleeding.
2. The boredom. I am trained in how to deal with the boredom, as a sniper in the marines you are taught to control it and how to negate it, The longest I ever had to stay still and watch a target was 2 weeks. We’ve been doing this for nearly 2 months…. Ive actually run out of things to think about, and I think a lot. 2hrs rowing (thinking) 2hrs sleeping for over 1000hrs so far. I know what type of screws I will use for a DIY project I have planned in a years time. It’s ridiculous.
3. The mankiness. Again I am used to keeping on top of personal admin in difficult situations, kit stowed away, body looked after, any physical issues are addressed before they become problems. In this environment that process just falls to bits. Your body breaks down regardless, although I have avoided any blisters/fungal growth/rash issues, my hands are in pieces, I’ve lost 10% of my body weight, my kidneys are blatantly struggling and I haven’t had any REM sleep since the start of Ferbuary. My trainers and rowing kit have their own eco systems, pretty sure they will be quarantined in Trinidad.
Overall though this row is a testament to self belief, the undying will to complete a task regardless of the sacrifice or consequences, to never stop and never quit. Saying no to failure. It’s proof you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to. I was fortunate enough to have this mindset drilled into me from a young age, however this row has brought that thought process screaming back to the forefront of my mind, I will leave this row focussed, mentally energised (certainly not physically) and itching to get stuck into multiple projects that otherwise would of taken me twice as long. And for that I am grateful to this row, it has been a mentally cleansing experience.
The finish line is in sight. Loved ones, showers, beer, food and all the comforts we are missing are literally right over the horizon, and within our grasp. No doubt the next adventure will be planned soon after, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Don’t be the richest man in the graveyard, be the one with the best stories on his headstone.