C.S. Lewis once said “no one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear.” For Sarah Outen, years of fear and grief pushed her to an edge she wasn’t sure she’d ever come back from. The fear of slowing down, the fear of bottled up vulnerability, the fear of looking trauma in the eye, all came to a crux for Sarah in 2012 as a tropical storm smashed into her, as she clung to her humanity in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
After her father’s tragic death, UK adventurer Sarah threw herself into adventure, becoming the youngest person to ever row solo across the Indian Ocean at just 24 years old, all whilst wrestling with the confronting reality of navigating one’s early twenties. Her passion for adventure has helped her de-stigmatise her own mental health, find a supportive community and serve as a role model for those struggling. She says “before the journey and even during it I saw myself as a bit of a lone wolf, something of an outsider, afraid of being my full self and showing all the parts of me, even to myself. I have finally come to understand and really deeply know that I need people and community around me in a way that I hadn’t fully appreciated before. I don’t have to do everything on my own anymore.”
Sarah’s thirst certainly wasn’t quenched by her eventful traverse of the Indian Ocean, and embarked on her next expedition, London2London: Via The World. Her route stretched across the globe to the most remote corners of our planet; self-powered on her bike or kayak, she crossed Europe, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic. Whilst many envision adventure and the outdoors as a vessel to finding peace and understanding, Sarah found the raw mental and physical nature of her journey forced her to confront some of the deep seated trauma she had buried deep inside her. The sheer solitude and magnitude of the punishing task pushed her to the brink of her psyche, yet she found strength in having to let go and embrace the unknown.
In the aptly named film Home, filmmaker Jen Randal craftily weaves Sarah’s 4.5 year odyssey across the world into a heartachingly transformative story of resilience, pain and vulnerability. The 25 000 mile expedition showcases the strength of the human spirit and the power of human connection when all seems lost, capturing the timelessness of travel across a myriad of landscapes and cultures. Jen and Sarah worked together to mould hours of intimate footage captured by Sarah into a snapshot of her journey, piecing together the mundane and the extraordinary into a flick full of heart wrenching vulnerability and tear-jerking relatability.
Sarah highlights the confronting reality of undertaking such an endurance feat following a traumatic life experience, and credits the rawness of her endeavour for her finally finding her way back to herself, back Home. She says “there have been many layers, shifts and cycles to my healing – this is intentional work that cannot be rushed, I have finally come to understand. It has and continues to be a non-linear, messy journey, full of surprises and setbacks – just like my ocean rows were. Just like all of life really. Be brave, be kind, be curious.”
Home is being released in Australia cinemas on Thursday, 1st October 2020. Screening at Event Cinemas, Village Cinemas and select independent cinemas for a limited release only.
Visit https://www.facebook.com/HOMEthefilmAuNZ for more information about the film, where it screens and how to buy tickets.