The Big Fish Irrational Life

February 23, 2012 — 2 Comments

Recently my friend Nathan Martin shared with me an obituary article about the man John Fairfax. Fairfax lived an extraordinary yet insane life filled with adventures rowing boats across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, being a pirate (yes a pirate), living in the Amazon, and playing professional baccarat like James Bond. The article’s writer said it best, “He crossed the Atlantic because it was there, and the Pacific because it was also there.”  Read his amazing obituary here.  Fairfax seemed like quite a lost person but his sense of adventure and imagination is what inspires me most.  If he were alive today, Mark Burnett or another reality show producer would be begging to follow and record his life.

So why do these crazy things?

Fairfax describes why in context of his rowing adventures.

“I’m after a battle with nature, primitive and raw.”

Fairfax reminds me of the movie Big Fish, one of my top 5 inspirational movies.  It has so many lessons in it and the main character Edward Bloom is probably related somehow to John Fairfax.

Edward Bloom’s son shares about his father’s immortal life,

In telling the story of my father’s life, it’s impossible to separate fact from fiction, the man from the myth. The best I can do is to tell it the way he told me. It doesn’t always make sense and most of it never happened… but that’s what kind of story this is.

It’s easy to dismiss a life like Edward Bloom’s in Big Fish. Edward learned early about his purpose.

It occurred to me then, that perhaps the reason for my growth was I was intended for larger things. After all, a giant man can’t have an ordinary-sized life.

The movie is a reminder that we are all meant for big things in God’s eyes.  I want to be remembered for having taken risks and gone on great adventures like John Fairfax or Edward Bloom. Perhaps I yearn for these adventures with a little more purpose to them and do them in a way to help others. Maybe at the end of life, those irrational experiences will actually be my reality, which is in God’s hands. My practical challenge to you is to start with a bucket list and write out 100 amazing things you want to do/experience before you die. I did this when I was 20 and have been keeping track of it since. Go one step further to describe why you will do each item and what the achievement will mean to you and others.

Have you ever imagined your funeral and what would be written in your obituary?

What would they say?

What stories would they tell?

2 responses to The Big Fish Irrational Life


    Dave, Would love to hear what’s on your bucket list — what you’ve crossed off, what’s on the immediate horizon.

    I’m more of an academic and storyteller, and while I wouldn’t last twenty minutes on the open sea in a rowboat, I love researching and telling the stories of those who made a difference by risking greatly, such as Anne Askew who was burned at the stake for daring to read an outlawed English version of the Bible.

    Thanks for the challenging post!


      I appreciate your candor. Truth is, I don’t like rowing or probably even the idea of a being a pirate either despite how much Johnny Depp makes me laugh. I think ultimately courage is found in subtle areas of life. We all have fear and we all may fear different things. So if you are an academic and storyteller, spend some time in prayer asking God to reveal those desires within that. What are the crazy things to tackle in that area? Is it to write a daring new book? I see that you are an author of hero fiction – ordinary people rising to the occasion in extraordinary times. Love that. Tell the stories of those who didn’t tell their own. God has put you in that place so that we may learn and be inspired.

      As for my bucket list, I should probably post that at this point. It includes everything from desiring to visit all continents (in progress), shooting my age in golf, making an illegal U-turn on the highway (check), living and working in a foreign country (check), to the most random by hunting a deer and drinking its blood (I’ve watched a little too much Red Dawn). I discovered in the process of the bucket list years ago that it was fun checking them off but without purpose, it can simply be a check and lose its meaning. So I’m challenged to dig deeper. Perhaps one of my biggest goals now is to take a year off from work and travel the world with my family (wife, two little girls) to serve in different areas, work a little, play a little, but ultimately experience and love on this amazing place.

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