Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Taking Pause

When I was 4 or 5 my family went to the World's Fair in New York. I was young enough that I do not remember much but there are a couple of things that I clearly recall. One was the giant green Sinclair dinosaur and the wax replica they gave me. The other was “the home of the future” which extolled the many “modern conveniences” we would have in just a few short years, such as pushing a button and having dinner simply appear.

All these years later and few of those predictions came true but we still seem obsessed as a society with convenience. What we eat, where we live, who we see is decided by what is most convenient. And if it's inconvenient we often choose not to do it. It's sad because I have come to learn that the greatest joy can be found in the inconvenient. In fact, it is often the inconvenience that makes it special.

By most measures living on a boat is definitely inconvenient. Tasks that are trivial at a land-based home often require more time on the boat. Everyday things like groceries, laundry, and the mail require planning and coordination. A five minute run by car to the store for milk turns into an hour walk or bike ride.

So as we schlepped our suitcases and masses of dog paraphernalia onto the Bald Head Island ferry 3 weeks ago to face a second crisis in so many months and waited in frigid weather to meet a rental car only to do it all in reverse two weeks later, I pondered if the inconvenience was worth it. I decided that convenience is way overrated.

Without the inconvenience of living on my boat I wouldn't know what it's like to see the stars many miles offshore. I wouldn't have met hundreds of interesting people. I wouldn't have seen beaches and islands inaccessible by land. I wouldn't know what it's like to test and push my skills and comfort level. I wouldn't live so closely with those I love. I wouldn't know the comfort when friends and strangers rush to help in a crisis. I would be without the thousands of experiences this life has given me.

What I have discovered is that, while it may take a bit more time, all things can be worked out. Rental cars can be procured, boats can be tied up and secured, and folks everywhere are willing to offer a helping hand. A walk to the store can be a beautiful stroll. A trip to the laundry can lead to interesting conversations. “Inconvenience” makes us slow down and experience where we are. And I think where we are is pretty great.


Bob said...

I agree Jeff. You put our lifestyle into words. Thanks!

MV Red Head said...

We're often not clear about which one of us writes each blog entry. Although we often discuss them, in this case, it was all Karen's thoughts although I agree, she described this wandering lifestyle pretty well.


John and Phyllis said...

Great post Jeff. One of the best I have read in a long time.

Bob said...

When two people live closely, and become so close as we cruisers do, two voices become one. Good job Keren!

Unknown said...

We agree with Bob. It is often impossible to tell which of you is writing, although we felt Karen's heart all through her post. Elaine & I hope you are both well. We hope you have a Happy, Healthy New Year. Give the pups a hug for us!

Fair winds & Smooth sailing,
Elaine & Lawrence S/V Elle & I

Stephanie said...

Hugs to all 4 of you!

Summer Wind said...

You've summed it up beautifully. It's always wonderful to come across cruisers such as yourselves, sharing your strengths, and resolving those things that test us constantly.
We're sending our love to you and your family... Big hugs to Dyna and Dylan. Thanks so much for sharing...

Anonymous said...

Your entry reminds me of Robert Frost's poem The Road Less Taken.

Browne Altman

S/V Starlight