We get asked a lot of questions; Where next? For how long? How do you afford it? But we’re rarely asked, Why?
But when I was recently asked Why sail? – I fumbled the answer.
“Because it’s something I’ve dreamed of, ever since I was six, and saw a black sailboat with Hawaii as a hailing port,” really doesn’t answer the why for me anymore. Even the why of twenty years ago, when Evan and I were planning our first trip (a search for adventure), or the why of ten years ago, when we decided to switch to a catamaran for (more speed, more space, more comfort) don’t quite fit.
I guess because I’ve held this dream for so long I don’t really think about the why of it. But it seems that journeys need a reason. Especially when the journey makes you uproot your family, walk away from a life you love and pack all your hopes and dreams into a two-hulled fibreglass tub, which tends to leak.
The thing is, for the past while, I think I’ve been avoiding the why. We’ve had such a long series of stuff go wrong (including a starting motor that failed to start the other morning) that I think if I asked myself why I wouldn’t come up with much of an answer…
Journeys need a reason.
I recently read that Morro Bay rock is the one of the Nine Sisters – a chain of extinct volcanoes that lead inland to San Luis Obispo. And I decided it would be nice to see all nine volcanoes. So we hopped on a bus and traveled the half hour, past old ranches, prisons and schools into SLO. Along the way I tried to count the rocky volcanoes – obvious by their steep shapes that give way to granite peaks above the grass lands. On the way there I got to seven, and on the way back I got to 12 (which evens out at something close to nine, so I was happy.)
While I counted I thought about how my quest to see the volcanoes made the journey to another town make sense. We had no need to go to SLO – Morro Bay has everything we need in easy walking distance of the water (I even got a decent haircut…). And we’re definitely not bored with MB – in fact we’ll leave in a few days wishing we had spent more time looking for sea otters in the estuary, climbing the sand dunes and exploring the little town.
But when I set a goal to collect experiences (I’ve set off to ride wooden roller coasters, pose with giant fibreglass vegetables and visit every province and state) it makes something that’s sort of frivolous seem more meaningful. I realized at the eleventh volcano this was what made the current question, why sail? so hard. This trip isn’t a quest, or a search for deeper meaning to life, it’s just the follow through of a whole lot of years of hard work.
Somewhere along the way I lost track of why I was doing this crazy thing and just did it. But the thing is you can’t sustain the energy for difficult, eccentric stuff for long without knowing why. I’m discovering this – the hard way.
But this morning, as I watched the sun rise over a calm sea, and hundreds of dolphins helped me greet the day, I felt a glimmer of something bigger, which reminded me why I’m here. Why the breakdowns and storms are worth it. Why it’s ok to be afraid and angry sometimes. Why we’ve set sail
I want to experience all that is silly and lush about life. I want to go places where I can count extinct volcanoes on a bus ride and see the ocean from as many different angles as possible. I want to test myself and push myself and then I want to spend lazy days recounting the stories.
I want to see dolphins leaping in the sunrise.