What started out as chicken scratch notes on the back pages of my boat’s logbook has now grown into a blog. These words and images help me cope with a loved one struggling with mental illness, and they help guide me through divorce, and the process of moving on.
Thanks for reading along as I learn about life the hard way, do the best I can for my son in my new role as a single dad, and find weird similarities between restoring an old blue water sailboat and putting the pieces of my own life back together.
Come check out my story and feel free to say hi!
The day after the check cleared from selling the sailboat, I put every cent of the proceeds into gold. The return on investment is significant. Plus I’m saving an ungodly amount of money from not buying all the upgrades and maintenance supplies that were planned for the near future. Not to mention a big boost in free time, both physical time free from working on the boat and mental time daydreaming about sailing and projects. Considering all this, I surprised myself by driving to the marina to sit and stare at an empty slip, where Ventana used to wait patiently for me..
The more I sell, give away or throw away just increases the amount of freedom I feel. Time goes by more and more slowly. Opportunities are increasing, decisions are easier. There’s no pressure to commit, to say yes or no. I value the choices, think about them, and find myself thinking “not yet” or “not today”, but soon I’ll be ready. In the meantime I value those around me, and the quiet moments of solitude. It’s easy to get away for some peace these days, even on a memorial day weekend. Lots of sun, lots of quiet time at the beach.
She had a name actually, I just didn’t tell anyone.
There’s a restaurant that sits up on a hill in Big Sur, California, that has a large patio with an expansive view of the sea. The afternoon sun scatters sparkly diamonds of golden light across endless waves of the bluest blue. Back in the day the prices of the food were too expensive for me to afford, so when I was a teenager my girlfriend and I used to sneak sandwiches and drinks out on to that big patio and gaze for hours out to the curved horizon. The name of the restaurant is the Spanish word for window, a portal through which the world seems a brighter, calmer, more peaceful place to be.
When my son does thing like this it drives me a little crazy. I instantly go into dad mode and remind him of how slippery wet rocks can be, how he could hurt himself, get soaked, all the lame things I can think of to say that just end up making me sound old.
But opening yourself up to risk, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and surrendering to the pull of the universe is a powerful thing, and who am I to criticize? The world is teaching me a valuable lesson, that the unpredictable nature of life isn’t something to protect against, but perhaps something to accept and even embrace.
My younger days may have been filled with physical risk, but now it’s more psychological and emotional. Less deadly, more powerful. The big push these days is letting go of things that have crept into the image of my identity, cluttering not just my closet but my mind and spirit. The road bike, the sprinter van, the beautiful house in the country, the image of myself as a surfer, mountaineer, husband. Letting go of objects that were becoming my identity has set me free. Opening my heart and thoughts up to the world hasn’t made me vulnerable, it’s made me stronger. Sometimes playing it safe is the biggest risk of all.
I think there is a buyer for the boat. This is a big mind f@#! for me, and will put my big ideas above to the test. More to follow..
Just got my hair cut. I was her last customer of the day. Usually I close my eyes and zone out, but this time was different. I quietly looked into the mirror, transfixed by her big brown doey eyes and round shaven head. Neither of us spoke which is unusual at a barber shop. She was a fair bit younger than me, which would normally be a turn off, but when she rested her soft hands on the back of my neck afterward, I was hooked. Some people just have the touch, and it goes to show a connection can happen anywhere, anytime.
There’s some kind of change coming but I can’t figure out what it is. At first I thought it was my living situation, I got preapproved for a loan to start looking for a house, but I don’t think that’s it. Then I thought it was the stock market. I really enjoy investing, and just recently totally restructured all my positions, but I don’t think that’s it either. It’s fun to think about, but I’ve learned not to think too hard. I’ll just do what tends to work out for me which is is thinking for fun but acting on instinct.
The boat hasn’t sold which is interesting. At first there were a lot of emails and calls, but they gradually drifted off and I stopped replying to the weird questions people tend to ask. I check on her as often as possible, she sits there patiently. Patiently waiting? It really seems that way. At night before I go to sleep I often think about weird things like overhauling the standing rigging, where to store provisions for a long voyage, a new tri-color masthead light, a solid VHF with AIS, new cruising main, deck lighting, Hydrovane. I draw out a plan in my head for a hard dodger, built to fit a rigid solar panel. She’s a pretty boat, clean and simple, equipped for day sailing, local overnights and light Salish Sea exploration. However I’m beginning to wonder if it might be my destiny to bring her back to her full potential, equipped to handle big water. I hope not as it that would break me financially, taking everything I have. Maybe that’s why I really want to sell the boat, because I know better. But who am I to deny a connection if it’s meant to be? It’s fun to think, it feels good to be active, and it’s exciting to have an open-ended life again. It was a good day today.
This skipper made a handful of misjudgments – wind, tide, draft, siltation, current. But what looked like a minor disaster was practically a non-issue. A line was thrown to him from the dock and tied off to a cleat, then as the tide rose the boat righted, popped free, and was pulled up to the dock without any further drama.
I’m starting to wonder if there really is such a thing as a mistake. Decisions are made, and most of them have unintended consequences. The fatalist in me believes things happen for a reason, the buddhist in me believes there are no mistakes – there is just Now, and my protestant history tells me I’ve made plenty of mistakes and should probably feel guilty about them. Whatever the case, it’s probably healthiest to see life a constant chance to learn.
The most successful people in my industry are not necessarily the smartest people, but those who are most open to learning. Technology is the clearest example. As the hardware in our cell sites went from analog to digital, the button, dials, and calibrating machines were replaced with settings that were adjusted in laptop program software. Those reluctant to change retired, quit, or were fired. Those open to change were able to learn, adapt, succeed, and progress. One of the old timers who was able to adapt told me he just viewed a computer as a new kind of tool, which makes sense. I would go further to say it’s more like the biggest most versatile tool bag that has ever been invented.
I myself am naturally reluctant to change. I’m stubborn, steadfast, loyal to a fault, old school, old fashioned, old, opinionated, and of Scottish and English descent. But life is teaching me how to let go, to recognize the futility of attachment, to be more like water. I’m learning to how to be more open, how to listen, how to be more accepting of myself and others, and how to move forward.
For what it’s worth I’ve recently learned how to whip rope ends so they don’t fray and unravel. It’s fun and I’m crawling all over the boat whipping every rope end I can find. I even canceled the boat showings for this weekend because they get in the way of me spending time working on the boat. Yes it is still for sale, but I haven’t found anyone quite yet who qualifies. Until then I’ll keep on learning about boat stuff, and learning about myself and where I fit in this wonderful glorious mysterious and unpredictable world.
Hello, it’s been a while. After a silent winter, I’ll try to ease back into this. A good start might be to apologize for leaving so abruptly last time. I acknowledge it wasn’t fair to some of the readers I’ve grown closer to, those who have shared this difficult journey with me. The reason is that things were getting worse and more intense, and it was starting to have a noticeable effect on my son. Everything else had to be set aside while I focused on getting us through this.
There’s a funny thing I learned along the way about living through the pain and hardship. The issues we faced were difficult, severe, and consequential. Life in general would change as we knew it, as shaped by our own decisions, with recommendations from various counselors, advice from attorneys, and decisions handed down from numerous court appearances. However after coming through all that, I can say that ripping the bandaid off a failing marriage was better than continuing life as it was before, a sad charade of appearance, where habit, routine, wishful thinking, and long nights of emotional isolation became a breeding ground for fear, deceit, and manipulation.
The other day I went down to the beach just to watch. No surfing, no sailing, just watching seabirds and listening to the sound of the pebbles wash in and out with the waves. So present, so timeless. The longer I sit the more the “I” melts away, until there is only wind, water, and rock.. Not long ago the divorce was finalized. My contract at work is coming to an end, and the lease for my little cottage is almost up. The boat up for sale. I don’t remember the last time I felt so naked, so alone, so alive, and so excited about a future that is unwritten. I kind of thought this moment would be all about letting go, but the sea made me realize something – I already had.
The only good thing about a forecast of a straight week of rain is that sometimes the forecast is wrong. A few days of gray is fine, cozying up to a warm fire, hot soup, and movies on a fluffy couch. Today as the rain poured down I had the interesting experience of losing a 3-hour game of chess to my 10 year old son, and honestly I couldn’t think of a better way to spend the day. However this was the second best part of the weekend. On Saturday, the sun came out.
On the way back from the boat, Day and I stopped off at the beach to grab a few rocks for the garden. While there, the wind backed off and the sun came out. We began to dare each other to see who could venture out the farthest to grab a pebble before the next wave crashed in. What started off
I started writing this post on Sunday but never finished. Due to an unexpected text Sunday evening, I think my son may be having some issues that I need to focus on right now, and so I’ll be letting go of wordpress for a while (although continuing to support y’all the best I can!)
It was a good summer, one I thought would never end. There was a good bit of learning, tidal cycles of give and take, but always an adventure. And through hardship, mistakes, joy, and surprise, there was always love. But uncertainty can be relied upon, and the season is changing. The days are shorter, the nights are colder, and the wind has switched around to the south – it’s time to put the boat away.
Gear gets removed and packed away. Small things that were once essential now have little meaning. I scrub and clean and beneath my hands most of the dirt washes away to a memory, but I don’t know if I can get rid of it all. There’s always a little bit left to remind me that it wasn’t just a dream.
It’s time to put the boat away, time to open up to new opportunities, to be free in the moment. I’m taking the good with me, and leaving the rest behind. I’ll miss her, but as I leave and walk away, I won’t be turning around to look back.
Spent the entire weekend working on the Flicka – winterizing, patching, sealing, varnishing, cleaning. We only have a few good weather days left, and Little Miss Butter Biscuit aka “boat cat” and I made the most of our free time.
Instead of using this post to blather on about divorce or parenting plans or sailing, I would rather take this space to say thank you to the new wordpress friends I’ve made along the way. I appreciate your likes, thoughts, and general encouragement, and it’s fun to be a part of your life as well through your own posts. I wish you the best and hope you found some calm moments last weekend as well.
I found these agates on the beach. When held up to the sun, they radiate a warm beautiful light. Each one is unique. The clarity is never the same, as some are almost flawless, while others have scars and impurities. The colors vary but are soft and warm without fail. Each one is different in size, no two ever have the same shape.
What I find most intriguing is the tendency to pick one up, put it in my pocket, take it home, display it, show it to others. But the truth is that once this is done, the magic disappears along the way. The true beauty is not in the appearance, but in the experience of the moment – the search, the time, the discovery, the appreciation, the holding tight, the setting free. Taste, texture, smell, anticipation, experience, memory.
If you’re a guy and know what I’m talking about here then that’s cool – you get it. If you’re a woman and know what I’m talking about here then well, I wish I could date you.