Checking the calendar this week, I saw that the first mini-FEAT is imminent, and it brought back fond memories of attending the 2013 FEAT event in Jo’burg last month. I’ve been to numerous entertaining events in my life, and although FEAT was high up on the list, it was not the entertainment factor that made it stand out for me. You see, I brought something home with me that night, and it has been growing inside me for the last month…
But before I satisfy your curiosity, allow me to briefly explain what FEAT is all about. Fascinating Expedition & Adventure Talks, organised by the very passionate Lisa de Speville, is an evening of time-limited talks by adventurers where they focus on a particular aspect or theme of their expedition. Each talk is exactly and strictly seven minutes long, with image slides to accompany it. The short format allows the audience to experience several completely different adventures in one evening in an interesting way, so even if, for example rock climbing isn't your thing, there would be plenty more to entertain you.
Now with my involvement in Nightjar Travel, I've had a bit of exposure to adventurers in the past, and they have all been very impressive people... but more than that, I've looked at what they've accomplished, and all the excitement their expeditions have generated, and been slightly intimidated by these awesome individuals. This is not necessarily a bad thing - it is always worth having a few people to admire - but it did leave me with the subtle perception that hardcore adventure was for other, more formidable people than myself.
However, at FEAT, I noticed something else. Yes, granted, some of the speakers were stereotypical adventurers - youthful, tough looking, etc - but at least every second talk, someone would get onstage and they looked like me or you. Just another person who went about their day, and then decided to do something different, something more… so they got up and did it. Don’t get me wrong, their achievements are still no mean feat (I tried, but the pun was inevitable), and there were certainly hardships to be overcome and sacrifices to be made, and I admire each and every single one of them. However, when one of them patted his belly and said “I must admit, this was smaller while we were training”, I looked down at my own belly and thought, “Huh.”
There was another factor that took a while for me to notice, and that was the unusually high level of audience involvement. Even the best hypnotist would have struggled to have that many people say “Awww” as someone on stage expressed a setback on their journey, or cheer as the speaker said they finally succeeded. Listening to the small talk after the event, I realised that most of the people in attendance had some or other pretty cool story under their belts, and this was far more of a community than just an audience here for the show.
It took a week or so for that “Huh.” to turn into anything, but sitting at my desk, replaying my favourite moments from the talks (and boy, did we laugh!) I remembered everyone receiving a postcard, and being told to write their planned adventure for the year on it. Lisa would then mail the postcard to you at a later date, to remind you not to forget your goal. I thought it was a nice idea, but did not fill in my own card, and someone told me I would regret that… and suddenly it all came together. I’ve been in all 9 provinces this year, and I’ve seen fantastic things, but I spent the whole year feeling like I could do more. And having now seen the ‘holiday photos’ of such beguilingly innocent-looking folks, I realised that a wild adventure is not such a difficult thing, if you put your mind to it.
I haven’t chosen the adventure yet (and you are more than welcome to make suggestions) but I have shaved a minute from my 5K time in the last month, and grown an adventurer’s beard. I’ll figure out what I’m getting ready for soon enough, but FEAT made me realise that instead of just day dreaming, I really could.
By now you’ll have noticed that I haven’t gone into any detail about the adventures that were presented on stage, and this is by choice - the talks were all so good that I would much rather encourage you to watch one or two or all of the seven-minute clips when they are released (I will post it in the blog). In the meantime, you can check out videos of past events on the FEAT website.
As you may have gathered from the image, there are also related events coming up. The mini-FEAT events are a new concept where a 7-minute opening act is followed by an hour-long talk by a renowned visiting adventurer. The November visitor is the famed author and mountaineer, Stephen Venables. Do check out the FEAT site if you are interested.