Recently, after seven months aboard Northern Passage and with over 5,000 miles under our hull, I have found myself wondering what to call this sailing adventure. Is it a vacation? A dream? A mid-life crisis? A calling? A lesson? A journey?
I think of vacations as temporary escapes - from work or from the winter weather. "Being on vacation" implies that you will be gone from the everyday with the intention to return refreshed after a short hiatus. This year-long journey is not a vacation. We still have the every day stuff to do. Cooking, cleaning, projects, laundry, schoolwork, breaking up sibling fights, worrying, about money. This is hard work, not a kick back and relax experience.
So, is it a dream? We have always said it is our dream to sail around the world. Is this what a dream manifested feels like? Or is a dream, by nature, no longer a dream once you are living it? Hmmmmm.
Perhaps it is our version of a mid-life crisis. At 46 and 49 years old, it is that time of life for us. And my friends will attest to the fact that I have been spinning my wheels for years trying to figure out Who I Am, which is indeed classic mid-life crisis behavior, isn't it?
None of these descriptions really ring true for me.
Lately, I am starting to feel as if this is a calling. From whom? I don't know. From my inner always-searching Self. From my Dad, who died when I was ten and whose presence I feel most vividly while sailing and exploring. From Mother Nature, who draws me to her again and again, insisting that I go deeper, feel more passionately about her, find more and more magic in the world. From my children, whose eyes fill with wonder and joy when they experience something new, and this fills me with a desire to give them newness again and again and again? From my husband, with whom I feel most connected when we are adventuring together?
This journey has opened me and stretched me and even broken me. With so much quiet, so little distraction, I feel as if a mirror is being held up very close so that I can see all of my imperfections. And out here with only myself and my family to judge me and love me, I can look at those imperfections and love them too. I can even put some of them away, tenderly in that deep dark place where unkind thoughts and negativity reside. And when I put those things away, in their place comes an energy, a buzzing inside, a peacefulness and quiet in my brain that delights and scares me at the same time. Because it feels like change.
I think that is it. This trip is about change. Change in all of its beauty, excitement and fear. Change from the daily grind, the status quo, the family drama we had become part of in our comfortable existence in Alaska. I have always believed that change is good. From the many times we moved as a little girl and I experienced a new bedroom and home, to the many jobs and apartments I lived in before settling in Alaska. And, of course, perhaps the largest change I made as an adult, moving 4,000 miles away from home to plant roots and start a family in Alaska.
From the beginning, this journey was meant to be a means to living in the Now. A lesson in being present. Seven months into it and I'd say I am still only occasionally living that way. But when I am, it feels fabulous. Like now, four sails gently and slowly pulling us southeast, the only sound water lapping the hull and the usual creaks and groans of the good ship Northern Passage. I am in it. Not worrying about tomorrow, not looking back.
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