~ James Dean
I have a sailing mix on the stereo. As near as I can tell, my father in law connected to iTunes and browsed the word “sail.” He then purchased every song with the word in the title... or even in the lyrics. The mix includes every artist from the past forty years who ever came near the sea, from Jimmy Buffet to Vangelis and Enya, Fleetwood Mac and the Beach Boys, classical, world, country, and pop. I’d like to say it’s oddly appropriate helm music, but I suspect it’s just odd and eclectic. I am enjoying it, however. I seem to know all the words, all the melodies, and I’m frequently able to belt out the lyrics at the top of my not inconsiderable lungs.
No one cares. Even DrC is relaxed, having completely given up on the idea of getting a second alternator to work on this boat. He’s reading an old Dan Brown novel in the cockpit, soaking up sun like a 6 foot, cotton clad lizard on a white fiberglass rock. He’s either deaf or my singing is better than I think since he appears unfazed even by the highest, loudest notes.
Today, we are living.
Poetically, we are living as if this is the last day of our life. In a grand gesture to carpe diem, this moment is all that matters. It matters so much, because it is so completely full. I can not think of a way to enhance the pure pleasure of what we are doing. Cruising life is not like this, of course. Most of the time it’s hard work punctuated by frustration, moments of sheer terror, and a low background buzz of worry about the cruising kitty, the weather forecast, and the boat machinery. But every once in awhile, the life is precisely as pictured in the magazines. Which makes me wonder if my life has changed or I have. Maybe had I changed my attitude in my land based life, it too would have been days of oyster soup sparkled with pearl moments.
I am prone to think I live a charmed, lucky life, full of unexpected opportunities. My husband, my career, my personal life are a series of points on a Cartesian system. In retrospect, you can see me with a large ruler and a number 2 pencil drawing direct paths from one major miracle to another. Many of those miracles were people, bosses and friends, parent and children. Others were jobs, houses, a boat at just the right time at just the right price.
My husband, however, subscribes strongly to the belief that you make your own luck. He insists that I do not lead a lucky life so much as I have an enormous capacity for finding a way to make use of what fate sends in my direction. This is oddly humble in an otherwise extremely self-confident -- dare I say arrogant -- masculine male as it diminishes the luckiness of my finding him to merely a matter of my manipulating him into my bed and then into marriage. He has a rather Machiavellian opinion of my charms. He insists, however, that to live life to the fullest, you have to first recognize what you have right now, here, today.
So why on earth did we have to get on a boat and sail away? Couldn’t we have simply done all that fabulous growth and introspection thing right where we were? In the house in Seattle? With the warm, dry sheets and the hot tub, and the secure income? Apparently not. I think somehow over the decade we spent there, we forgot how to look for luck. There wasn’t enough time, or there wasn’t enough energy. The daily pattern left no room for air, for breath, for breathing.
Now it’s different. Take a deep breath of cool, clean ocean air and belt out some absolute torch and twang. “Walk away from trouble with your head held high, then look closely you’ll see luck in your eye.”