Friday, February 15, 2013

You can't do everything ...

... at the same time.

As we edge ever nearer to abandoning land living for being sea gypsies many thoughtful people have wondered how we can possibly find the latter to be better than the former. They point out that we have lived in St. Louis for a long time now, that we are (were?) avid long distance motorcycle riders and pilots. I am reminded that I have a good paying job that I like to do, that I do it for people I like to do it for, and that that is something rare in our world today and not to be discarded lightly. I am told that there are many people who dream of living in an interesting and classy part of major city surrounded by stages and theaters, eateries, parks, and world class universities. And many others who dream of living in a beautiful home with a working fireplace and a nice sized shop out in back. (These are two things I have always cherished in a home, neither of which exists on Kintala, or any other boat I can afford). More germane is that 2 of our 3 daughters live in this town, half of our son-in-laws, and 5 of the 7 grand kids.

Another point of discussion is that Deb and I are not really "boat people". We didn't grow up on a sailboat or around people who lived on sailboats. The fact is we didn't know anything about sailboats until a few short years ago. Worse, maybe, is that we do know that living on a sailboat is nothing like the magazines suggest. We know about being sea sick. We have sat a long night at anchor watch, wet and cold and not exactly sure what we would do should the hook start to drag. Lightning has crashed down all around us and we have wrestled with sails on a narrow foredeck when the winds picked up. I don't scare easy but I know when to pay attention because things are getting interesting. And though I don't have a lot of open water experience, the little I do have suggests that things get interesting often on a small sailboat in open water.

The thoughtful people are not easily answered. Why would two baby boomers walk away from a life that most everyone else on the planet wishes they could live?  Explaining why living sans creature comforts, just plain everyday comforts, and security, is not easy in a society as geared toward safety and security as is this one.  But for some of us living well is not the same as living easy.  Living well can mean living where one's best can be called for at any time. It can mean not always being comfortable and not always having the answer when figuring it out matters. For those on a short handed crew it can mean being with someone on whom one can bet one's life without a moment's hesitation or a second thought. At this point in my life living well includes living light, mobile, and without a lot of accumulated possessions dragging on my bank account, my time, or my options. It turns out KISS is more wisdom than humor.

The family part is even harder to explain. I missed my girls when they grew up and moved away. When they came back for whatever reasons, the times we had one or the other of them living with us as adults rank right at the top of my favorite years. But I don't need to be the Dad who is always around, always dropping by, always near. My girls are more grown up, more capable, than that. They love me but, in ways that make me very proud, they don't need me. As for the grand kids, my hope is that their lives will be made more interesting, more whole, and more connected with the world by knowing that their Dema and Grampy-T lived on a sailboat and wandered around the oceans learning and experiencing things.

I hope there are years where they spend a couple of weeks with us, learning and experiencing things for themselves. I hope they pass the things that they learn and the experiences they have to my great-grand-kids and thus make their world just a little bit bigger as well. I hope the cockpit of Kintala becomes a time machine. Not one that moves through time but rather slows it in a too busy world, slows it so a kid can listen to the stories of his Grandpa. There needs to be places where one generation can hear what another has learned without a TV in the background blaring commercials, where bedtimes and soccer practice and homework are kept at bay while wisdom and love can be shared without interruption. A sailboat sitting in a quiet anchor can be just such a place of magic.

I can't do those things, pass on that learning, open the door to those experiences, and stay in St. Louis at the same time.

I had a friend once who declared that my desire to wander a chunk of the world by sailboat, in my own time and way, was pure selfishness. He claimed I was running out on my kids and grand kids and away from one thing or other. He couldn't have been more wrong and, though I wish it had gone differently, he isn't a friend any longer. Still, I suspect there are a lot of people who think his point of view more valid than mine. There probably isn't much I can do about that. The very act of trying to live a way different from "the norm" puts one slightly outside the reckoning of the majority. Even the thoughtful ones will find it difficult to understand. Then again, it isn't easy to explain either.

But sometimes we have to try.


Latitude 43 said...

Good read. I had a friend lecture me on the same subject. We're still friends, and he still does not understand, but as long as Deb and I and our daughters get it, that's all that matters. People say it's not normal, but I have news for them, we were never "normal".

You guys are doing fine. It's like reading about our lives a few years ago. Hell, you'll probably beat us to the islands, while we bake on the ICW.

Capt. Mike said...

Apparently those thoughts and confrontations are common to many of us. You articulated them nicely.
Capt. Mike
S/V Zoe

Robert Salnick said...

I really like the time machine metaphor.

Hope your house sells soon - the market seems to be picking up a little out here in Seattle...


Bill K said...

I have never been accused of being "normal", how about you ? LOL

Bill Kelleher

kd278 said...

Story of every man. After 50, every one is busy picking up the best annuity from the lot.