Thomas Merton wrote, “It is true that we are called to create a better world. But we are first of all called to a more immediate and exalted task: that of creating our own lives.”
This morning I woke up, poured myself a cup of coffee and walked outside to water our plants. Surrounded by the tiny ebbs and flows of water splashing against the bottom of the boat, gently moving it with the sway of the swell, I watered our plants (with a tomato so vibrantly red, it’s about to drop), basil, mint, squash, cucumbers and lettuce.
Then I sat down with my cup of coffee and listened, deeply, as the breeze twisted through our sea glass wind chime ever so gently; the high pitch clinks created an unpredictable rhythm of its own. Before, I had never given nature so much of a… pause in my life. So much credit. I simply hadn’t noticed it before. Not in this way.
I had never before noticed nature’s keen intuition. It’s impeccable way of providing, rocking, supplying, serving, re-grouping, re-claiming. It’s pulse and breath as it expands and contracts. It’s playful, stubborn and tricky ways like when the current wants to push you one way but the wind decides to move the other all while the moon is commanding the tide to do whatever it’s going to do too.
I seem to understand Einstein’s theory of relativity better sitting out here on the water. Which is weird, because I’ve never sat and pondered the laws of physics before. But sitting here knowing events that occur at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another makes far more sense when I’m sitting rocking on a sailboat watching life and nature (accelerating and non-accelerating observers, as Einstein would label them) move all around me. I wonder what they think I’m doing? I wonder how they’re experiencing the time and flow of my story, of their story, of nature’s story?
When I first started to wrap my head around this whole “sailing life,” I struggled. I had so many hesitations, questions and concerns. How do you make money? But you can’t just do that! What about insurances? What about careers? What about futures? What will we do to make money? How will we have food and stable shelter and create a life and SURVIVE?
Then one day, a sailor said to me while casually popping pistachio shells from the nut, “You need to stop worrying. Work will appear. Food will appear. Friends will appear. Purpose will appear.”
I realized something suddenly. Was I under the impression that I was in full control of all those things (work, food, friends, purpose) on land? Had I bought and swallowed the idea that the only way to exist is to be an employee for an employer and buy my food from available stores, buy my insurances and repeat my days?
I started to see my fears stemmed from lack of trust in the world around me and in nature. Deep-rooted trust issues. I never assume that someone will “take care” of me or “handle things” for me. That was always my job, my responsibility. But in sailing, “taking care” and “handling things” look different. (I’ll discuss this later, but back to my realization first).
I realized that society had taught me to fear and fear greatly. The world of people had convinced me that I somehow have control of this thing called life as long as I stay stable, stay in line, do what I’m told, pay my bills, buy the insurances, and wait.
But what was I waiting on? If you ask Geico, I was waiting on a possible flood / fire / horrific car accident. If you ask my health insurance, I was waiting on a pestering cold or a heart-wrenching diagnosis. If you ask my career, I was waiting for an employer to recognize my potential and talents and have the ability to promote me. If you ask my love life, I was waiting for a marriage proposal. If you ask my school loans, they’re just waiting for me to pay them (while secretly celebrating that I can’t pay them all off at once). If you ask my mortgage, it feels the same way as my school loans.
All of this waiting… and for what? Life is actually happening now.
As I started to put the pieces together, I stumbled upon this Bible verse one morning:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" [Matthew 6:25-34]
Then it hit me: I needed to trust in that, that is larger than myself. ASAP.
Since my life change (and mindset change), I have seen plentiful fish, bodies full of hearty meat, being pulled from the ocean. This meat sustains us, fuels us, provides nourishment for us.
I have seen work come in different forms as we've monetized our blog, pushed for freelance writing contracts, and thought of new innovative streams of income.
I have seen new ways to experience friendships and family. Ways where I have more time to spend quality moments with them.
I have experienced a freedom I never thought possible to achieve. A freedom where my days are blessed to be open, creative and spread in various unanticipated directions. This is a blessing, and I wake up every day whispering, "thank you" to the universe.
It has been 4 months since I left the stability of a full-time job and threw myself into a whirlwind of having to trust everything and everyone around me. This hasn't been an easy transition and it has required of me to conjure up different parts of myself, unknown to me before.
It has demanded of me to have confidence in myself; not allow others to bring me down or convince me that I'm not worthy.
I never expected these lessons to come from living on the water, but I now recall my last doctor appointment with my functional medicine doctor. She said, "You become what surrounds you. You're becoming water full of waves."
This phrase repeats itself to me. How lovely it is to become a body of water - fluid, flexible, ever-changing, persistent and self-sustaining. How strong it is to live full of waves - transitive, powerful, influential, responsive.
If there is anything I've learned here (living on the Chesapeake Bay for 5 months and now living on the Atlantic Ocean), it is that we have a big, beautiful world out there that wants to love us, care for us, share with us and test us. If you listen, nature speaks. If you ask, your answer will appear. If you trust, your whole world will open up. If you believe, you will be amazed.