Thursday, March 8, 2012

The People We Are

Well, there are a lot of people on the information superhighway who are writing about their sailing lives.  And from what I can tell, a lot of them write about...maintaining their boats.

Different strokes for different folks, of course.  But nothing could bore me more than writing about, or talking about, boat maintenance.  There are some things that genteel folks just don't discuss, and that's one of them.

I don't even like to think about boat maintenance.  So today, when I was doing nothing but maintaining the boat in the boat yard all day, I thought about...the existentialism, the ontology, if you will, of being a full-time sailor.

What else could a reasonable person possibly think about in the boat yard?  If you live and travel on your boat full-time, you are forever putting effort and money into the boat.  Then haul-out time comes along, and you redouble both the effort and money that you are putting into the boat.  And this isn't an investment, since the boat will inevitably go downhill, no matter what you do about it.  The money and effort that you are expending is simply blowing out into the ether, from whence it will never return.

What other questions could you possibly ask at a time like that besides, "Is this worth it?  Should I continue to wake up every day and decide to keep living this way?"

As I was chipping away dodgy paint today, I was thinking about an interview I heard on the ABC the other day.  A family was talking about their experience running a dairy farm for decades, and they kept saying, "It made us the people we are."   As in, it was hard work, and we didn't get to go on holiday like other families, but we're glad we did it, it made us the people we are.

And I thought that was a great way to think of the sailing life.  Or any life that is spent in pursuit of a dream or a passion.  The joy is perhaps not so much in the oceans crossed, but in the form your life takes on, and the person you become, as you act on the demands of a dreamed-of life.

And that got me to thinking about the qualities that I find attractive in some of our friends who have been sailing the world for years and years.  These are people who are incredibly self-reliant.  They are comfortable in the world, they know the score, and how things are organized, and how to make their way in a hundred disparate situations.  They're not complainers; they don't waste their breath moaning about things that can't be changed, like the weather or bureaucracy.  But they can also tell great stories about ridiculous situations that the weather and bureaucracy have put them in.  They have a twinkle in their eye.  And the very best of them have minds that wander much further, and more freely, than their corporeal selves, even with their endless physical voyaging.

So, it's a short list, and little enough in the end.  But if that's what we're buying ourselves with this constant business of getting from one place to another, it just might be a deal that justifies itself in the end.


  1. OK I loved this post. Nail on the head and all that.