Since my family’s housefire, I have read and given away 53 books that are listed in chronological order on my book list. Every time I note a new book, I take a minute to glance at all the books that I had read. It serves as a sort of timeline for my life. I can recall what was going on and how I was feeling by just remembering the book that I was reading. Some books were attempts to better life, some just for pleasure, and some made significant impacts in shaping my life.
For example, Maiden Voyage further solidified my dream of sailing about the world. The Red Tent made me feel closer to my grandmother, who is also my boat’s namesake; Daphne. The Devil and Ms. Prim rekindled my love for Paulo Coelho, which was then followed by five more books by him. When I finished all his books, hungry for more “Coelho like” literature, I picked up Ishmael and The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, both of which had a significant impact on my decision to live on a small boat.
Quinn’s Ishmael lucidly describes how a simple life can benefit the individual and the world. Deep down I knew this, but the reinforcement certainly helped to put it into words. While we worry about gas prices we fail to see that our lives, as we know them, are in danger. The way we live is not sustainable. As the World Burns: 50 Things You Can Do To Stay in Denial by Jenson and McMillan is a witty commentary on how changing to “greener” light bulbs, recycling, and buying electric cars isn’t enough. We must be uncultured, go back to our wild roots and live in concert with the Earth.
And how wonderful it would be to live on a small boat, having only what I needed and feeling it a special luxury to have a few extras. To be living so close to the environment and being free from the sedentary life I had grown accustomed to through the last few generations of Western ancestry.
Then came Healthy at 100, which put fact to Quinn’s fiction and legitimizes Jenson and McMillan’s wit. Many populations in the world live in simple ways; as hunter-gatherers, working their bodies to collect simple non-processed foods. Walking to everywhere they need to go, carrying heavy loads on their backs. I could do that too. My small boat only has room for simple foods. When I get to ports, without a car, I’ll have to walk everywhere. And I expect keeping the vessel in good repair and sailing her well will work my body.
Many of the books I have read have shaped the decisions I’ve made; the decision to live simply, reduce impact, change my diet, live on a boat, and share this all with the world. The process has only begun. Since I started preparing to live on a boat, I greatly enjoyed the process of “cleaning house”. I sold as much as I could on Amazon and EBay and took carloads to the thrift store. Now, every time I finish a book, it feels great to pass it on to another person to enjoy and simply note it in my journal that was too special to write in.