Fake obituary inspires new goal

Leia Ostermann

British adventurer and rower Roz Savage gave up her Edwardian mansion and little red sports car for a dream and a cause. She wanted to have an exceptional obituary.

In order to obtain this obituary, Savage decided to be the first woman to row solo across the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Savage is lecturing at Sacramento State at 7 p.m. Thursday in the University Union Ballroom. She has many eyewitness experiences to share about exploration, following dreams and leaving the world a better place.

“I’ll be talking about my ocean going adventures and things it has taught me about my self and about life and about facing big challenges,” Savage said.

One day Savage sat down and wrote two obituaries, the one she wanted to have and the one she would have if she kept living the same way, Savage said.

“I was trying to figure out what was wrong with my life. Why I wasn’t happy chasing the money and the stuff,” Savage said.

The two obituaries were opposite of each other, Savage said.

“I wanted an obituary that was sensuous and exploratory. I wanted to leave the world a slightly better place. The life I was living wasn’t taking me in the direction I wanted to go. The office wasn’t going to leave me a legacy that I was going to be proud of,” Savage said.

Savage’s friend and assistant, Jay Gosuico, is a Sacramento resident and encouraged Associated Student Inc., UNIQUE programs and Peak Adventures to sponsor this event.

“Amelia Earheart. Charles Lindberg. Neil Armstrong. Charles and Amelia flew over storms. But Roz rode them out. The military wiped Neil’s windshield. Roz crossed the ocean. By herself,” Gosuico said. “Roz is way out of the realm of adventuring.”

Gosuico said he is inspired by the boldness of Savage and impressed that she gave up her lifestyle and corporate managing position over adventure. Savage said she wants to take people outside, away from the office, to see how much more there is to life than just a steady job.

This lecture is about changing, one step at a time, Savage said.

The lifestyle switch for Savage did not stop with living life outside of the ordinary, it was also a changed how she viewed the environment and how we are treating it.

Human history is facing consequences from the last 40 years of environmental abuse, Savage said. Carrying on business as usual and dumping more chemicals and plastic into the oceans is bound to cause crucial impacts on our environment, she said.

While she was rowing across the Pacific Ocean only a few months ago, Savage’s water maker broke. Luckily there was another boat in the area, willing to trade water for food. They had discovered a large garbage heap of plastic in the middle of the water that they showed to Savage.

“This boat was made entirely out of junk to make a point about the North Pacific garbage patch. They showed me the trash. They showed me photos of fish they had caught with plastic in their stomachs,” Savage said.

Savage said this inspired her to challenge society to make tiny steps to begin to fix the ecological crisis.

“Eighty percent of Americans are aware of massive environmental issues but only 15 percent are doing anything about it,” Savage said. “This means that over 65 percent of people are concerned but don’t feel like they have any control. I don’t want to be a helpless passenger.”

After facing ecological crises first-hand, Savage realized that it is possible for her to make a difference with her voice and her actions. She said she wants society to realize that every action, however small, can have an impact on the environment.

“Some think that these problems are so massive that an individual can’t make a difference. But day after day our single actions make an impact on the world,” Savage said. “I have taken 3.5 million oar strokes. Each one only gets me a few feet. But take millions of tiny actions all together and it gets me across oceans and it can get us into or out of ecological dilemmas,” Savage said.

After 103 days alone at sea, sometimes with a faulty satellite phone or broken oars, Savage lived close to nature and learned a new definition of adventure.

“When I gave up coffee for a week I thought I was roughing it,” Gosuico said. “But she crushes her own grounds of coffee and mixes it with tepid water and that’s her coffee for two months.”

UNIQUE programs adviser Zenia Laporte said Savage’s messages are empowering to all of us. It can inspire us to stop whatever we are doing at the moment and do something extreme, Laporte said.

Savage said she is excited to share her story at Sac State; she wants to be an adventurer that is accessible to students and to regular people and not just a distant role model. She compared herself to other adventurers or explorers she admired as a child, feeling like they were fake, almost fictional. Savage said she wants to be known as a normal person that people can talk to and relate to and understand, she said.

“I am a pretty ordinary person that chose to do something out of the ordinary,” Savage said. “I just decided to row across oceans.”

Savage said she wants to move beyond pursuing her dreams into making a difference in the world. She said she knows that her story is fascinating to all who crave adventure and she hopes that students and the community will be inspired to leave the world of better place, she said.

Leia Ostermann can be reached at [email protected]