Thursday, June 5, 2014

Making Do

One of the things you hear spoken by cruisers the most is how all things on a boat are a compromise. There is truly no perfect cruising boat, and finding the boat you want to cruise in involves compromising on the list of features that you've dreamed of. In our case the one major thing we compromised on was the fact that we wanted a head in the aft portion of the boat, just by the companionway, a shorter walk in wet foulies and a convenient place to hang those when coming off watch. Kintala's one head is just aft of the V-berth and can be a challenge in steep seas.

Learning to compromise, or make do, is a valuable skill for cruising in many ways, not just in choosing a boat. I've found that the ability to roll with it, to be flexible, to find substitutes, are all skills called for multiple times a day. Never has this become more evident than in the last two weeks with toddlers living in the constrained space that is Kintala's cabins. Take two retired people who, for the last two months, have leisurely sipped coffee in the cockpit until late morning and eaten dinner in the same cockpit while enjoying the setting sun (with many leisurely hours of reading in between), add two very energetic toddlers, and clearly compromise is the order of the day.

In our society of instant gratification, "making do" has earned a very negative connotation. We seldom have to wait more than a few minutes for whatever it is we desire - cash from the ATM, movies on demand, news on the internet, digital photography, research through Google, banking online. Just taking a stroll down the cereal aisle of your local supermarket will yield literally hundreds of types of cereal in multiple brands. We want it the way we want it. Exactly. We want it now. Compromise is as foreign to us as the countries we may wish to visit some day.

It seems many of the cruisers we see struggling have failed to master this skill. We've seen both husbands and wives living in worlds of self-gratification to the detriment of their spouse's happiness. Facebook group posts are rife with the rants of disappointed cruisers, and cruising forums bring out the very worst of edgy bitterness.

I had this lesson brought home to me this past week when the knob to my oven broke. It was badly corroded due to the neglect and misuse of previous owners and can't be repaired since the manufacturer has been out of business for 15 years. We will eventually need to do something to either fix it ourselves or to replace it, but this past week we've been practicing compromise. Instead of baking bread in the oven I've become a fairly proficient pressure cooker bread baker. It's a skill I've wanted to master for some time but I just could never get motivated to do so when I had a perfectly good oven. It occurred to me that sometimes these hardships are a good thing. We are pushed to learn and to grow, we dust off that seldom used skill of critical thinking, our creativity gets a good burst of new energy, and we get to enjoy a feeling of accomplishment that previously only MacGyver was privy to.

Now if somebody could just figure out how to teach this to a toddler...


Robert Sapp said...

Deb, I think I see a potential problem in the offing. You're on a boat (i.e. a confined space) with two toddlers, and you're feeding them sugar. What are you thinking! LOL

Deb said...

@Robert - Sorry, but not all is as it appears. The ice cream cones are gluten free and the ice cream is sugar free coconut milk frozen in an onboard ice cream maker. These kids have serious food allergies and rarely have sugar. It would actually be a real relief to be able to trek to DQ once in awhile instead of having to prepare all these special foods!