“Home is a feeling” that’s what the necklace said that my best friend gave me when I left two years ago. It’s true. Otoka has been where I lay my head, it has been my home but it has not been home.
I came sailing to find myself. To embrace the time to explore not only the world and far off exotic places but to explore the corners of myself. The places that you need to take time to open and hear.
This is our last week of cruising before heading south and tidying up the boat for an extended time apart. Back to land, to Quadra, to school, work, friends and home. It is putting in perspective for me. How far we have come, how much we have changed.
Life has been less ordinary, but still life. I struggle to put it into words. Everyone just assumes so much when you say you live on a boat. It is romanticized. If I could stress one thing is that it is still LIFE, with all the highs and the lows.
I’ve learned encyclopedias worth of knowledge by being out here doing. Physics of sailing, weather forecasting, the nuances of how to anchor in any number of situations. Crossing the Atlantic forces you to plan for so many things that many never come. And yet you prepare for them all. So often weight is put on how much education a person has. “You must have a bachelors to apply” it is a way of levelling the playing field and weeding out those that can not apply themselves. However, the amount of knowledge that I have sucked into my brain and retained in the last 2 years is immense. I have learned that when I am engaged with what I am doing when I am excited about the process and the outcomes I learn very quickly.
It has made me rethink what I will do back on land, what my next steps and goals are. While travelling I felt an immense amount of joy but not fulfillment. Joy at the cultures, the travel, the places and the people but not fulfilment. If I want fulfilment I need to start following the plans of my own heart. The kids are older now, the family business is stable, we have gone sailing… so it feels like the time to put the energy into investing in myself and the things I hold high. Before leaving if you had asked me what I wanted it would have been a list of things Nick or the girls wanted. It’s not surprising, all my life I have focused on others before myself. It is a habit that is ingrained from a lifetime of practice. After 2 years of sitting with myself, I have finally realized that my inner voice has never wavered. When I have ignored it, the voice goes quiet and waits for me to ask again. My ambitions are not of money and power which has made them a hard justification to invest in (what are the returns, what is the business plan?). What is it that everyone says, everyone has their gifts, grow your gifts and abundance will follow. I’m paraphrasing.
I have learned to sit with my fear. When the weather is bad or when my mind is a mess I have learned to sit with fear. Living aboard a sailboat can feel trying at times. We are constantly living in a state of risk-taking. The difference between a good day and the worst day you can imagine are divided by risk assessment and luck. This is our every day. If you go to sleep and it is calm you feel good, if the wind picks up you can spend the next couple hours trying to not imagine the single pin that holds the anchor to the chain. Trying to tell yourself the reef is far enough behind you that you would have time to take evasive action. Night-time mind is a bastard. It laughs at logical mind that says I inspected the pin on the anchor, or we did a great pull test; night-time mind will always put you through the gears. So, I have learned to acknowledge and sit with that fear until it passes. In comparison, the things that made me fearful on land were more existential and less immediate and visceral. Those things although they still may sit in my mind I realize that they can be prepared for or actioned on.
Perseverance. We are sailing because of perseverance. It was the ‘one-day’ dream. The dream that seemed so far off it was unlikely to ever happen. Every time we placed a new brick of life we would ask ‘if we do this is sailing still possible, one day?’ We would only place the bricks that answered yes. It was the motivation to work hard, it was the inspiration to go all out, and it was the goal to save for. The most glorious thing about achieving our goal is to know that it is possible. That any dream you have is worth having. That if you preserver it is possible that one day you may reach that goal. Or you may not. Perseverance is not a guarantee it is a virtue.
I’m looking forward to a dose of home. A chance to bring this whole big, beautiful experience full circle. A chance to reconnect with all the aspects of life that we have missed for the last 2 years. To reflect on what is next. I am so filled with gratitude for this experience. It is impossible to put to words how much life has been lived, how much growth has occurred, and how much love I have for this whole adventure. To every person, I have met along the way thank you for being a part of this. To my sailing tribe, thank you. I will never be the same. Homeward bound.