August 23, 2009

Slowing Down

Our year leading up to leaving was pretty frenetic. Between our two careers, which require a fair amount of travel, juggling our child, building the boat and planning to go I was pretty mind-less, and definitely not mindful.

Mindfulness is one of those new-agey concepts that I used to ponder back when I was land-based. For me it was the idea that if I could just change my life I would become aware of the world around me and really have the time and the wherewithal to pay attention to the small details that always seemed to be slipping through my fingers. The fantasy was that once we were aboard we'd wake slowly and savour each moment of each day. We'd give up the hectic pace and learn to move to more natural rhythms. We'd get everything done we set out to do and still have time to gaze in wonder at the stars and cook well-balanced, gourmet meals.
The outcome would be inner peace or at least less grumpiness and a healthier diet.

There's another reason for being mindful when you live on a boat: if you're not, you could die. Or at least seriously screw up. Boats, we've learned, require a certain amount of attentiveness.

We were reminded of this over this past few days. Things have been hectic. I finally had fast wi-fi - so I was researching and filing stories like a crazy woman. The anchorage was flat and Maia had a playmate, so Evan was doing to-do list tasks like moving and revamping the outboard bracket. And we were expecting guests - so we had a deadline and were trying to clean, and shop, and work while also visit with the wonderful family that was hosting Maia and keeping us in blender drinks.

Then Evan broke his toe while rushing to grab a boat hook because I dropped something overboard. And we were reminded why we need to slow down. If we had been out on the ocean, I would have taken my first-aid skills to a whole new level. Instead we got to borrow a car and drive to the closest rural hospital with an emergency room where we saw an x-ray of Ev's very broken toe.
The next error came when I drained our (just filled) water tanks while we were out at anchor with our friends. One flip of the wrong switch, a bit of inattention and bam, we were down to drinking beer and wine and washing ourselves in salt water. Fortunately we were only anchored a day sail from a water hose, but in another place and another time the whole situation would have sucked.
So even though we live on a boat and, as far as everyone else is concerned, our life is one big fat vacation - it's clear we have the same problem we always did: We need to slow down. We need to savour the sunset, pay attention to where we put our feet and look at the electrical panel when we flip switches. We need to be mindful.

1 comment:

boatbaby said...

I hope Ev feels better soon. And I am not going to say I told you so on the slowing down thing... but... neener neener.