For a time I forgot who I am, remembering only who I was. I was a sailor, I could take a boat out, raise the sails, trim them, and face anything Lake Michigan had to give to me. Sailing into the night sure of my direction, capability, and position, enjoying the solitude and serenity that can only be found alone on a vast body of water.
I could sail down the Mississippi for weeks on end, living on simple necessities, with time to think, connecting with God and myself. I’ve held onto those memories like a prized childhood toy or favorite sweater that felt warm and good.
I honestly don’t remember my first fascination with boats, or the dream of living on one. It’s just always been there. I made it clear to my wife to be that we would at some point have a boat and live on it.
But I wake up in the morning, stiff from sleeping on a bunk now too hard. Rolling to the dry side of my pillow, listening to the steady drip from the crack in the window as the rain finds it’s way in.
My simple breakfast of oatmeal is complicated by my diet and the dozen or so pills I must now take due to age and illness. What was second nature to me now takes careful planning. Right foot first on the boat, left foot over the edge. Don’t get them mixed up or you’ll find yourself in the water. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been replaced by a diet which requires refrigeration, which in turn requires batteries, which requires extension cords and thirty amp plugs. Battery chargers, fuses, and voltage meters need room in the hold.
Frequent nighttime trips to the bathroom requires an enclosed head on board, which needs plumbing unique to boats. Housebound plumbers and carpenters are easily confused by the nature of connections needed for this.
None of this fits into my dream. So I sit here in the cabin realizing that the dream, like the childhood toy, is broken. The concept and wishes of the past, like the favorite sweater, doesn’t fit who I am today. When sailing the Intra Coastal, you have to keep an eye on the buoy you are heading towards, as well as the one behind you, because tidal currents can come at from the side and push you off the channel without you realizing it. Life throws a lot of side currents at you. Without constant adjustment to your course, you will run aground.
So how do I fight the currents? I stay running forward, and keep moving. I don’t stop, because the current will be what controls me. Roosevelt said, in any situation the best thing to do is the right thing, the second best thing to do is the wrong thing, the worst thing to do is nothing. This has been my journey of failures. Mistakes and problems are my sirens. Its been more costly, time consuming and frightening than I anticipated. But in a few minutes I will start the engine, untie the lines, call the bridge operator and keep moving east and forward.