So, I was standing in the galley, washing dishes — which, first of all is a new bitch of an experience when you have to haul all your water to your tanks and try to use as little as possible (like a couple of drops per dish!) — and listening to Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. She writes:
“In order to be a writer, you have to learn to be reverent. If not, why are you writing? Why are you here? Let’s think of reverence as awe, as presence in and openness to the world…I think this is how we are supposed to be in the world: present and in awe.”
Then, she quotes a Rumi poem:
God’s joy moves from unmarked box to unmarked box
From cell to cell
As rainwater down into flowerbed
As roses up from ground
Now it looks like a plate of rice and fish
Now a cliff covered with vines
Now a horse being saddled
It hides within these
Till one day it cracks them open
“There is a kind of ecstasy is paying attention” she continues.
So, have I been paying attention to what this experience really is?
Here is my Facebook account of our first day out motoring around the lake:
And we’re off! Our first time off the dock! Just a motor around the lake and our first docking practice. Gene did it alone (because he felt increasingly confident as he inched toward the dock) as I nursed Rowan on the v-berth.
And here is my husband, Gene’s account of those same “increasingly confident” moments:
Nothing quite like the pleasure of puttering around the lake for the first time (under power, not sail, for now, baby steps and all). Now combine that pleasure with the constant, low level tension of being “In Charge, aka the Responsible Party”. Am I doing this right? Not much traffic, that’s good. Don’t hit those nets. Where did that kayaker go. Try not to snap at the three year old when he grabs the tiller and start fighting you for the helm, nothing is happening fast anyway… Hmm… I really should have spent an hour studying the chart for this lake, does it shoal over here…. Maybe, but flippin’ ships come through here, just stand off a reasonable distance and you almost certainly won’t run aground on your first day in command… It really is a gorgeous day. Not too much wind… I wish we’d been able to confirm the fuel level… The gauge is probably just busted, but if it’s right we could run out and that would be “embarrassing”… True, but we are only burning about 1/2 a gallon per hour right now, what are the odds that we happened to have 1/2 a gallon left in a 65 gallon tank? We could have spent another day confirming, fueling, etc, but we could spend endless days doing everything that needs to be done and if we don’t get to go, even for just a little bit, we are going to start hating the sacrifices we are making to be here….Follow 40 minutes of that with an interminable minute of shear terror as I dock a 16 ton boat for the first time ever, and single handed too, as the admiral (Crystal Eisele) is down below, wrangling two children. Terror is followed by Shining Hope as I step (Step, not jump) onto the dock, bow line in hand, and make it fast to the cleat, step back aboard to get the stern line and back ashore again to make it fast as well. Shut down the engine (breath a sigh of relief) and go fiddle with dock lines. A person ashore might actually have been led to believe that I knew what I was doing, provided, of course, that they hadn’t seen the three previous turns I had made, first well clear, and then slowly closing. It feels pretty good now, as I kick back under the deck tent, a glass of wine in my belly and another in my hand.
See a difference? I think a part of me has wanted the uncomfortable, frustrating, annoying, just plain HARD things to fit a little nicer into the blogging “oh look at this great adventure were having” box sprinkled with fairy dust.
But the truth is, we are on an “adventure” and adventures (as great literature shows us) are hard and icky and sweaty and bloody and show us the enormous grit it takes to cross the divide from innocence to experience.
So, here are some other layers of “experience” we are having, lest we loose our awe in ourselves for attempting this crazy “adventure”:
- A potty-training (currently protesting any progress in that department) toddler who has a very limited palate and no desire to try anything new no matter how we coax, cajole, reward, ignore, starve, or implore him.
- A baby who is unsteady on her feet and needs an extra-watchful eye aboard. She currently has three facial bruises, a scraped eye, and a fat lip — all courtesy of bonks while not on the boat. Thank goodness she will eat anything put in front of her and half of yours too, thank you.
- An engine that is old, well-maintained overall, but old and a bit gummed up at the moment. Gene has been spending hours cleaning filters, replacing hoses, etc.
- The rain in Seattle is just beginning. We have a water tight boat overall, so we think. But we’ll soon find out for sure. As I write this, I have been dripped on repeatedly from the dorade box vent above me :-(.
- Finding the gear and supplies we need on a very limited budget. I’ve been scouring the thrift stores and the local Buy Nothing group and we’ve had some really good success. But there are still projects, oh so many projects!
- We have no refrigeration! We’ve camped for long periods before, so this is not shockingly new. But it has been a hard adjustment for our three year old who is used to cold milk on demand.
- We’ve been showering about once a week. Not because it’s not available 100 steps away at the front of the marina. But because the chaos of everyday hasn’t allowed for it. Cleaning up the boat, cooking, shopping, preparing for rain, stowing or digging for something is always more pressing it seems.
- And the constant fear that one of our kiddos will fall into the water unnoticed and, well, drown.
And we’re not even moving yet! Breathe. Have a cup of tea and be in awe of the adventure you are on.