I am encouraged by all the posts, emails, and messages that I get from people who are inspired by what I am doing. “You’re living the dream,” they say. Yes, people romanticize it. “Oh, you live on a boat, how wonderful! To feel the wind in your hair and nothing but openness ahead” they say…”I could never do that!” But of course they could. Taking each challenge one day at a time.
I think I romanticized living on a boat too…perhaps too much. Sailors are romantics and romantics are fools, so I must be a fool. But the dreamer in me keeps on making somewhat rash decisions like this. It has been a part of my life journey all along.
After my second year of college I spend the summer in Chicago. On this day it was truly the “windy city” and I spent the afternoon sailing with a friend. “Whooooeeeee!” We would yell as the wind howled across our ears. I was hiked out on a trapeze, dinghy sailing. I felt like I was flying over the water. We yelled to each other over the screaming wind. “I’m moving to someplace where there is wind like this all the time,” my friend yelled. “Me too,” I replied. “I’m moving to Brazil.” “Me too!” And so, the next day I found myself at the Brazilian consulate trying to figure out how to move to Brazil.
I decided not to go to Brazil. I wasn’t looking for that experience, but instead for one that would set me free, like sailing. I did, however, decide not to return to college. My parents warned me that it was a bad decision. “If you don’t go back now,” my father said, “you probably will never go back.” But I had to take the chance. So, I did.
That year was followed by many years of quick decisions full of passion: I followed a BS in Environmental Science with a MA in Theater, convincing myself and Ohio University that I belonged in theater school. I spend several months hiking and rock climbing, while living out of a backpack and sleeping on the ground. I flew to the west coast to sail on a schooner and “jumped ship” after only a week. I hitch-hiked up the east coast. I moved and moved and moved again, living in strangers’ homes, a fraternity house, a base camp, tents, and even my car. All the wile pursuing whatever my interest and spirit dictated. And it has been good…mostly. But, when life is mostly good, then I must be doing something right.
Buying a sailboat was another quick decision accompanied with warnings from my father, “Wait until you are more settled,” he said. And I wondered how one who is “settled” would ever want to cut lines and set sail. By then I would be saying, “oh I’m too old to sail. I’ll have to wait until the kids are out of college.” But, taking the warning I processed the pros and cons of the decision. And I thought to myself, “What is the worst thing that could possibly happen from this decision.” The answer was clear; I could struggle financially, blow through my savings, and eventually have to sell my boat. Now, nearly there, I wonder if I will regret it all.
But back to my original thought…about “living the dream.” I would hate to disappoint any of my readers, but I am not sure if I am living it. It is not my dream to be living in such a small space, tied to a dock, and working only temporary jobs that lack room for enough of my own creativity. But maybe I am one step closer. Besides, experiences like this continue to color my story. I believe that eventually it will turn around. I’ll find work that I like (hopefully a full-time teaching job again) in a place where I can liveaboard and save money for the time when I can truly set sail and discover more of that dream.