Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Flip side

Wouldn't you know, just as we pull the trigger on jumping into the cruising life the bloggersphere is full of stories of those who discovered that cruising just wasn't for them. Some fetching-upon-the-hard stories are tragic, some wistful, and a few are a joyous return to a life more near "normal". All seem to share the same bit of sage advice, "cruising is not for everyone".

Well duh... nothing is for everyone. With rare exceptions most cruisers didn't grow up cruisers. They became cruisers when land based living turned out to be "not for everyone."

Deb and I have never insisted that this was going to be a permanent lifestyle choice. Even if we secretly believe it to be so (I think I might and I am sure Deb does) neither of us is silly enough voice such a belief out loud. We have been around the track too many times, endured too many major life changes, and watched many a dream run into reality and come out the worse. And though I think anyone who makes choices similar to the ones we are making now must have some romantic in them somewhere, some rare muse, hear some inner calling to follow an unusual path, that doesn't mean being like a teenager with a crush. All living, even good living, is often still hard living. No one has it easy, no one gets a pass on getting bruised up, hurt, and occasionally scared; and everyone, eventually, runs out of options. (Yep, that means "dead".) Cruising is certainly a different experience than what most Americans endure chasing the American dream, but it is still human beings finding their way through life. Some seem to do it very well, some rather poorly, and most fall somewhere in the middle. Cruisers included.

But even if it turns out we are short time cruisers, mere polliwogs who discover that a big ocean is like a Saint Bernard in the city, (nice to look at but a pain to live with) I will still be pleased with what we have accomplished. In slightly more than six years we learned to sail, bought and worked on two boats, moved a 42 footer to Carlyle and then to the ocean, saved some money, and made a dramatic change to our lifestyle simply because we chose to do so. We have ventured into a world that we didn't know and, at least for a while, we work for no one but ourselves and ask none where we need to be tomorrow. But mostly (and I'm guessing this will not come as a shock to those who know us - or an unusual trait among cruisers) we are putting a bit of space between us and a society that we no longer find particularly enchanting.

And that, I think, is permanent. It is hard to imagine ever being chained to a consumer lifestyle again; ever working years at a detested job just because we have to have the money. Helping to fund drone killings or the NSA's spying programs doesn't really make me feel good about my contributions. I'm not interested in being a Democrat, or a Republican (really not interested in being a Republican) or even an independent. I don't mind being independent, but I'm tired of the labels America wants to pin on everyone and everything. (Your mileage may very - if you don't like funding Head Start or Meals on Wheels or Food Stamps well, that's your thing. I'll buy the first round should we wash up at the same seaside pub and you feel free to educate me as to my wayward politics. After that we can talk about serious stuff, the right anchor, ketch or Marconi rig, inflatable or ridged ... sailor stuff.)

Even if we end up back on the land someday, joining others who found cruising "not for everyone", I will still be proud to be counted among those who tried what many wouldn't dare.


Robert Salnick said...

Can you hear all of us out here cheering you on?

Go! Go! Go!

Latitude 43 said...

And I thought we were going to discuss politics at anchor. I guess I'll have to bone up on my rig research. Marconi? I thought he was the radio transmission guy? :)

Deb said...

@Robert - Yes I do. If it wasn't for that I would be insane at the moment.

@Paul - too funny. No worries - I never heard Tim refuse a good political discussion before.

SV Pelagia said...

Your politics may not be so "wayward", at least, not "out there".

How many of those finding cruising is not their cup of tea have already spend a lot of time cruising locally (e.g., spending Summers on the boat, etc)? Likely few.

We head south August 26th... eek!

Deb said...

@ Michelle and David - Congrats! I don't know that we'll ever end up on your side of the Panama Canal but we'll toast you with our first sundowner.

Mike M. said...

Very well stated! Whether it lasts months or years or the rest of your life, there's no doubt it'll be an experience of a lifetime!