November 6, 2011

Uncharted Desert Isle--at Chesterfield Reef

Walking the beach in the moonlight waiting for the turtles to come ashore and nest (we saw a couple swimming in the shallows) we pondered, "How many people total do you think have ever walked on these islands?"
1000? 3000? Certainly not more than that.
The charts don't even really show islands here--just a reef. And while the French have laid claim to this little strip of mid-ocean real estate since 1877 the only people who come here are the occasional navy patrol, people servicing the weather station and sailors.

baby boobies
 We walked the beach till 11 pm or so--but on our islet (on this part of the reef there are five joined by narrow sandbars) the turtles never came ashore. So we headed back to the bonfire and continued to talk, "How have you been changed by your journey? What are you going to take home from this trip?"
Of the four boats here we are the only family who is continuing on. Connect 4 bought their boat in Turkey and their two-year voyage is coming to a close. WGD and Discovery are also selling their boats and heading home. Only Connect 4 is heading back to much the same life they left--but all of us feel profoundly changed.
The changes though are subtle things. Emotions and beliefs that you share quietly, close to midnight, under a blanket of stars and on an island you may never again find on a map: "I'm stronger." "More confident." "Will always see the opportunities and options, not the limitations." "I like myself more." "I'm meant to be on shore." "I'm not yet sure."
We piled into our dinghies soon after. Leaving the kids to camp on shore. In a wonderland of baby birds and sea turtles. Under a moon so bright the white fluff on the smallest chicks glowed through the dark of the trees.
Today we pondered the weather--balancing the pressure of needing to be in Australia against overcast and wind, and against the magic of spending a few more unplanned days on an unchartered island. We've agreed to pass the rainy afternoon playing games. The kids are still onshore--cooking their own meals, building a raft, unbothered by the rain. We don't know when we'll leave. Except it won't be today.
Not long ago the kids called on the radio--we thought they wanted to come home, but they just needed a tip for cooking their damper. When we asked about needing a pick-up we were told, "We're happy here. We think we'll stay."
Last night I couldn't answer my own question, "What will I take from this journey?"
But this morning it became more clear--my whole adult life has been about planning. I've always lived in five year increments, checking off each goal (education, job, marriage, boat, child, career #2, boat #2), holding so tight to control that the unplanned, uncharted moments have always been uncomfortable. But this morning, looking out at an island which is so improbably remote it seems magical, I realize I've learned to embrace the uncharted.
And accept uncertainty.
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Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Embracing and accepting rank as the highest modes of learning and loving.

Sounds like you’ve got it knocked. Right on.

Anonymous said...

I'm moved. I'm touched.

Anonymous said...

Your writings are a joy. ☼ ☼ ☼