Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A personal journey

In the preface, Jill Fredston writes, "In the process of journeying, we seem to have become the journey, blurring the boundaries between the physical landscape outside of ourselves and the spiritual landscape within" (XVI).  This quote perfectly summarizes Fredston's relationship with nature and highlights the difference between her attitude and that of the other authors we've read.  Fredston's travels are very personal; even though she travels with her husband, they row in separate boats.  She emphasizes that her journeys are not about achieving firsts or farthests, but is rather a spiritual journey of growth and self-discovery.  She expands upon her relationship with nature by describing her concept of "zen"; just as Fredston experiences a blurring of boundaries "between the physical landscape...and the spiritual landscape," so too does she recognize a blurring of boundaries between herself and the boat.  She personifies her boat not as a separate character but as an extension of herself.  Interestingly, though, her motivation for writing this book did not originally stem from some internal need to share her experience with the world.  Rather, she wrote the narrative after receiving encouragement to do so from friends and family.  Perhaps this is simply another testament to the fact that Fredston rows for entirely personal reasons, not to break records or gain publicity.


  1. I agree with everything you said about Fredston's narrative being a personal journey. I was especially glad this text was placed at the end of the course. If we had another text about survival, publicity, or being goal-oriented, I think it would have been a somewhat dismal note to think about adventure on. Fredston embodies one of main points we have talked about in this class--to seek and live adventurous lives as much as possible. One of the quotes she has at the end stuck out to me. "Why is it that turning around always seems like a failure and death takes us by surprise?" After a life full of adventuring, Fredston has learned to accept these shortcomings. Lots of our class time has been spent discussing broad generalities such as failure and death. We also have spent a lot of time talking about personal enrichment and discovery. I'm less concerned about defining adventure, and more concerned about living a fulfilling life, which Fredston obviously does. I'm glad this text was the denouement of the course.

  2. I also noted how introspective Fredston's thoughts seemed compared to many other authors we have read. Her mentality towards rowing, including her relationship toward the natural environment and her concept of "zen", reminded me of Norgay's text and philosophies. In terms of this inward-focused, not-so-goal-oriented mentality toward adventuring, Norgay and Fredston stand out as two particularly thoughtful authors. Unlike many others, they both express a deep concern for environmental stewardship and the well-being of nature. Interestingly, they were two of my favorite authors throughout the course.