I wrote a blog post a while back that featured the story of a Mexican fisherman.
It was a post about learning to either find happiness in your day-to-day activities…or figuring out a way to move on to something that would bring you joy.
I guess it was mostly about trying to learn to be happy where you are in the moment.
Anyway…in the post I made a reference to the guys out on the old sailing ships. They’d have a bunch of limes with them to avoid getting scurvy. This was before you could zip on down to Wal-Mart and buy a big bottle of vitamin C.
They’d suck on the limes to avoid getting sick.
I imagined it would be hard to leave something you knew and understood…something that would keep you safe…to explore the new worlds you were sailing towards. It would be hard to get off the ship.
We don’t do a lot of true exploring these days…if we’re lost, we can just wait for the GPS to say, “recalculating” and we’re on our way again.
I wonder if real exploring isn’t heading towards an expected outcome…maybe it’s more expecting to be lost?
I don’t feel really comfortable trying the “let’s just try this and see what happens” approach too often now that I have a family to protect and support. It’s a scary and selfish thing to jump ship and forge into uncharted territory just because I’m frantic and lost…unhappy with my current situation, whether the GPS might get me back on course or not. But…on the wishy-washy other hand…that’s exploring.
(I’ve seen movies where they jump off the boat and then realize they didn’t drop the ladder over the side to get back onboard…man, they’re really
screwed messed up then…)
That’s not to say that we haven’t had our share of optimistic misadventure.
When we were just starting out as a family, we bought our house.
We looked for quite a while in the WNC area…looked at all the cheap houses we thought we could afford. We looked at a house you had to hike to on the railroad tracks, we looked at a house that looked like a big soft mushroom returning to the earth, we looked at a house with a family of pit bulls living in the crawl space…we looked at a lot of crazy houses.
When I found our house just down the road from a camp I used to work at…it felt safe. It felt like home.
Of course, it was gutted and didn’t have a water supply and needed just about everything to be habitable…like doors and windows and insulation and a well and plumbing and…(it’s a long list).
Maybe it was the comparison to the other crack houses we’d looked at, but even in its decrepit state…it felt like buying this gutted house was going to be OK.
I don’t remember if we grabbed a couple of limes before we jumped off the boat…all I remember is how it felt to hit the big ocean and realize that it was time to start swimming.
After a hard first winter of tin and rafters..with a too small wood stove to keep us warm…it all started to come together and the house started to feel more like a real house….with doors and windows in all the holes.
It’s a long story…the story of being “low buck pioneers” with a new (new…like 6 week old..what?) baby in a wreck of a house…so I won’t tell the whole thing here…but I guess that what I’m thinking about is that any of the real adventure comes when you have no idea what you are doing.
Now, you won’t jump off the boat if you don’t imagine that you’re a really good swimmer…but the real adventure comes when you’re tired of treading water and the island still looks like it’s a good distance away…and you ponder, cold and tired in the big expanse of blue, “what the heck was I thinking?” I guess your option at that point is to just start swimming again.
We’re getting our passports soon…my pockets are already stuffed with limes.
Image by David Karp in the LA Times