“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest,” explains Sterling Hayden in his book “Wanderer.” And a big Thank You to John for reminding me of Hayden’s words and his book at a time when I need to be reminded.
My journey was most certainly built on a rock solid foundation of financial unrest. With little savings I impulsively decided not to return to being a school teacher and instead, purchased a Nor’Sea. I had less than one month left to finish my contract with the school and an equal amount of time to build a savings and a plan to finance this indefinite journey. I needed to find a mobile living that would keep food on Daphne’s table. The plan I came up with quickly became hazy and unclear until it was completely lost in the pea soup fog along with my savings.
Then began a few years of my work as a jack-of-all-trades and wanderer. I earned a few dollars as a teacher, tutor, sail maker, dance instructor, resume writer, web designer, social media consultant, charter boat captain, waitress, hostess, housekeeper, steward, babysitter, first mate, tutor for children with autism, study-hall proctor, sailing instructor, and boat caretaker. The only thing I have done consistently the entire time is write. A lot of writing. If only blogging could be a profession. I would write every day.
But I agree with Hayden. If I had enough savings to last for a few years of cruising, how would I have challenged my creativity? If I had provisions filling my lockers, how would I have learned resourcefulness? If I had at my fingertips enough resources for comfort, would seeking ways to be sustainable be important? If I had a little extra to spend how would I appreciate the beauty of less that I have grown to love more and more? And if I had security, where would be the adventure?
I never planned it to be short lived, a sabbatical away from ‘real life.’ Instead, voyaging was to become my life. A sailor that takes to the sea without a compass quickly becomes lost and doomed. It is the same for life’s ventures. I chose Simplicity as the compass to my journey, guiding me as I define my values. I don’t keep an apartment full of furnishings and comforts awaiting my return. I never planned a destination or timeline so that when I ‘get there’ the cruise will be over. This is the way of most cruisers. Some save enough money for a few years, some have homes, some are trying to cross an ocean or set a record. They go to sea listening to Jimmy Buffet, their compass pointing to white sandy beaches. Instead, I went to sea looking for challenge, the depths of my strength, and creativity. I’ll keep sailing for as long as I can, and Simplicity will guide me even longer.
To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea… “cruising” it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.
“I’ve always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can’t afford it.” What these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of “security.” And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine – and before we know it our lives are gone.
What does a man need – really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in – and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all – in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.
Where, then, lies the answer?
Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life…?
– Sterling Hayden