more than a decade ago, i dreamed a dream: i want to live aboard a sailing ship.
i want to live a simple life, close to nature, free to wander and deeply connect and experience the world. i want to feel the humbleness and grace of a seafaring life.
recently, this dream became a little more true: i moved aboard, finally, and my being is flooded with all kinds of feelings and energy and memories.
i have a red leather-bound journal that i've kept since the beginning of this dream. it holds all of my thoughts and fears and sea-storied lessons. it is a roadmap for this dream.
realizing this dream hasn't been easy or fast, it hasn't gone at all how i planned.
i had to learn how to be a sailor.
i had to learn a whole bunch of lessons, some of them really painful.
i had to learn an awful lot about a million things that i knew nothing about.
i'm not the same woman who first dreamed this dream, and i've almost given up and abandoned it and sold the boat more times than i care to admit.
during my first offshore hop, no more than 60 miles, i learned about fear. we had strong headwinds, it was a pitch dark night without moon or instruments, without skills or knowledge. i wrote in my journal, "i'm terrified, i think i need to revise my dreams. i can't do this." there is an old latin phrase, hic sunt dracones. it means, here be dragons. in reality, there were no dragons on this first hop. we were on a sound ship, near-shore, and the weather was merely uncomfortable, not dangerous. i almost abandoned my dream because of the fear that my mind created. fear lives very closely with dreams.
many years ago, i crewed across the atlantic with five strangers, as green and inexperienced as they come, but hungry for adventure and willing and chasing my dad's ghost. in his journal he wrote, "the north atlantic is no place for an inexperienced sailor." so, that's exactly where i went...and, somewhere during those sixteen days and more than 2000 miles of nothing but blue, my heart grew ten-fold. i experienced a range and depth of human emotion i'd never felt before. the deep, quiet rhythm of life was tangible...sunrise to sunset, moon waxing and waning, squalls passing and galaxies turning. sometimes counting jellyfish floating by on the swell, sometimes fantasizing about a helicopter rescue. and by the time we saw the azores pushing up from the sea, i had accepted my fate and fallen deeply, wildly in love with the sea. in my journal i wrote, "she and i are now the closest of friends." somewhere in the middle of the north atlantic, i learned that this was my dream...not his.
the first time i got caught in a storm, a real storm with a name, a hundred miles offshore, i learned that when you're in a storm, you just have to be in the storm. your mind is quiet, your senses keen, you're exhausted and energized at once. i realized that something in me had changed: i didn't have to adjust to life at sea, i was just there. i could move about a ship with ease, with my eyes closed and always one hand holding on. i learned that being a sailor is who i am, in my bones...and, i can count on that, i can trust that, in the middle of a storm or when everything else is gone.
and the hardest lesson of all, i learned that realizing this dream would mean letting go of so many things...tangible items and keepsakes, people and places, ways of being and thinking that kept me safe but unfulfilled, and the most precious of these, my sweet miss mollie grace. caring for her taught me about love and honor and belonging, it taught me the tenacity and patience of dreams. saying goodbye to her left me with a brand new kind of tenderness and challenged my faith in everything. it has taken me months to find my way again.
i still feel fear, i still feel love and loss...and, the horizon is wide-open.
there are no real plans, only the things my heart dreams up and stories in the wind.
there is no set destination, only the journey of my life and my life is up to me.
there is no timeline, only a renewed faith that every single thing happens in its right time.
the truth about dreams is there's nothing more terrifying than going after what you really want, and there's nothing sweeter than sitting on the deck of your ship under a dark-moon-star-filled sky watching venus set in the west and knowing that you are finally and deeply home...
thank god i didn't sell my boat.
what lives next to fear? what could happen if you set your heart free? who are you a storm? what do you believe in when everything else is gone?