Adair Heitmann here, writing to you about Tori Murden McClure’s recent Author Talk at our library. Tori spoke about her newly-published memoir, A Pearl in the Storm, to a room filled with boaters, writers, and extreme adventure lovers. Using innate humor, compassionate insight and her credibility as the first woman to row solo across the Atlantic, she succeeded in satisfying all three segments of the audience.
For readers and writers of memoirs, we held back tears as Tori revealed how she found her heart in the middle of the ocean, and didn’t know it was missing. For the sailors and rowers, we had to stop our jaws from repeatedly dropping, as she explained, without ego or fanfare, researching, designing and making her twenty-three-foot plywood boat. Then rowing it alone for 85 days without motor or sail. All of us sat in rapt wonder as she calmly recounted surviving the worst hurricane season, on record, in the North Atlantic.
We learned how, within days of starting out on her quest she lost all communication with shore, and her decision to simply keep rowing. Tori peppered her talk with stories of her past that surfaced for review and healing while she was in solitude on the Atlantic. We heard that she had the skills and courage to not only fight Mother Nature but her own dragons as well. However, it was a final wave of a 48-hour hurricane odyssey, that brought her severely injured, humbled and literally to her knees, amongst the throws of “really big” 35-100 foot waves.
Stumbling, exhausted and vengeful she made her way the length of her boat to press the distress signal for help. Broken, she stopped mid-boat to rage at God. After her true pain was revealed, she experienced a cathartic moment of spiritual (not religious) clarity. Instead of fighting, which would have been the masculine approach, the one she knew the best; she yielded instead. Tori experienced, for first time in her life, the feminine archetype. In that instant, she received the grace that changed her life.
In closing I’ll quote from a passage on the book flap, “In this thrilling story of high adventure and romantic quest, Tori McClure discovers through her favorite way–the hard way– that the most important thing in life is not to prove that you are superhuman but to fully embrace your own humanity. With a wry sense of humor and a strong voice, she gives us a true memoir of an explorer who maps her world with rare emotional honesty.” Read A Pearl in the Storm and let me know what you think.