Learning from Mistakes

4/18/21 Sunday

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.

After-the-rain.org / grounded sailboat

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.

After-the-rain.org / Laptop and sailboat

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.

After-the-rain.org / whipped 3 strand

Release

3/28/21 Sunday

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.

after-the-rain.org / Wind water rock

The Games We Play

10/11/20 Sunday

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.

after-the-rain.org / Beach rocks

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

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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!)

Take care

Puttin’ the Boat Away

10/9/20 Friday

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.

after-the-rain.org / At the mast

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.

Thank you Kindly

10/5/20 Monday

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.

after-the-rain.org / Peekaboo

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.

R

Brown, Blond, Gray

9/23/20 Wednesday

I turn 48 tomorrow, and am excited about it for three reasons:

1) I’ll get to spend the day with my son, which was a 50/50 shot considering our current parenting plan. Nothing will make me happier than an evening of cupcakes, candles, balloons, a kitty cat, and watching my boy’s favorite show with him on a big fat couch.

after-the-rain.org / Brown, blond, gray

2) I feel really good considering… I’m getting older but am in pretty good shape, definitely in the “I’m not as good as I once was but am as good as I was once – once” category. I play hard until I sweat and my muscles burn, but please let me sleep in the next day..

3) Learning to appreciate life – thank you to friends, family, and the good lord above. I’m lucky to be here and for the chance to experience the world and see my dreams come true, little by little and one at a time, often in the most unexpected ways.

Refuge

9/21/20 Monday

The smoke from the wildfires cleared out yesterday, and for the first time in weeks we can breathe fresh air. Conditions had become oppressive, with even healthy people reporting burning eyes and an irritated throat. People with lung problems had it worse, and it goes without saying that we were the lucky ones – many lost homes and even lives.

It was hard not to notice that even the animals were affected. Some were displaced, and many seemed to seek refuge or water from humans. I’m a construction manager for a cellular phone carrier, and we lost a handful of cell sites to fire last week. I was talking to a site tech today who said deer have been coming up to his truck for water, and another tech reported a black bear doing the same.

At the marina, visibility was down to just over a hundred yards at one point. This blue heron has been hanging around a little extra close lately, using the Flicka as a comfortable place to eat mussels, prawns and fish. He is a total slob and makes a huge mess, but I don’t mind having him around. I feel like it’s the least I can do to offer up a safe place to stay for a little while.

after-the-rain.org / Heron at the boat

Decision #2: Selling the Boat

9/13/20: Sunday

It’s leftover night for dinner. Sauteed onions and garlic in olive oil, mixed with the hamburger meat and mac & cheese that Day and I couldn’t finish last night, plus a drizzle from a glass of red wine. I just handed him back to his mom for the week, so I bury myself in food and thought.

I’ve been thinking about selling the sailboat, a 1978 Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20, hull #34 – the boat that has protected me while I learn to sail, taught me patience, and provided a place to live when my son and I needed it most. I have given her my time, my money, all my energy. Written off by others, I could see her potential. Pouring forth the effort, I gave all I had to give which was everything. What now floats before me is a structurally sound, stout but beautiful, tiny ship full of charm and possibility.

When I think of her, I dream of adventure – of exploring the Sea of Cortez, trucking her to Tennessee to sail with my dad, navigating shanty style down to the Mississippi River and on to the Gulf of Mexico, and sailing across the Pacific to Hawaii and on to Japan. I feel at home within her spacious cabin, and am comfortable with a life on and around the water.

The flip side is how demanding she can be. She craves attention, loves shiny gifts, new hardware, standing rigging, lines of all sorts, and an endless supply of maintenance products. Most of all, she just wants my time. People tend to think of the sailing life as the simple life, but in my view that is only if you live on your boat full time. Otherwise owning a sailboat is the opposite of minimalism.

I desire to shed my attachment to the boat, to set both of us free. It makes so much sense in so many ways. But much like decisions with actual women in my past life, I have a hard time saying no, and derive all satisfaction from giving. I need to finish writing now so I can sand and varnish the companionway drop boards that I brought home. I’ll bring them out to her tomorrow, probably with some flowers to apologize for my terrible thoughts.

after-the-rain.org / Flowers on a Flicka sailboat

Decision #1: Forgiveness

9/9/20 Wednesday

Over the long weekend, we had the best sunny weather imaginable for the Pacific Northwest. But instead of joining the masses out on the water, the new kitten and I stayed put at the marina tackling a long list of boat maintenance projects that need to get done before the rains begin. While I labored away, Little Miss Butter Biscuit explored the dark recesses of the bilge and took long naps. We both had a lot of time to think.

I want to forgive my ex wife, for all the things she did to me, herself, and my son. However I’m not sure how to go about it. First of all, I tend to think of forgiveness as something that happens after the harm is done. But since we are still going through a difficult divorce, the pain is still present and raw. I wonder if I should wait until later. Also, I don’t know if I really can forgive her for what she did to herself or others, am I only able to forgive someone for what they did to me?

Endlessly I sand, varnish, sand and varnish. The sun burns my back and sweat drips down my face. The terns cry over and over from high above, and the kitten emerges surprisingly from the battery locker. I’m ready for peace, to let the bitterness go. I’m ready to forgive, but don’t know how. We close our eyes, and rock gently with the wind on a late summer afternoon, safe and snug in our little slip.

after-the-rain.org / Sleepy kitten on a boat

Sailing with Cookies

8/16/20 Sunday

The heat warms by bones, the wind fills the sails, and the water cools my fingers as I reach over the rail and drag my hand through the sea. It’s been busy lately, and if I’m not working the days are being spent camping, fishing, swimming, and sailing.

A year and a half ago when my ex-wife and I split up, I tried what seemed the appropriate response – I posted myself belly up at the nearest bar with a big mug of beer. Watching football and attempting small talk with the people around me, it was soon obvious that this was not the direction I wanted to go. Since then I hardly drink, don’t smoke, and drugs were never for me. I work out and stay active, likely to a fault. I run full steam ahead, because I’m afraid of falling back. Moving forward with whomever and whatever are still around me, I cherish my time on this planet and appreciate everyone and everything around me. The sun feels more intense, the water colder, the sky bluer, and these chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are next level as my little ship pushes forward through the waves of time.

after-the-rain.org / Cookies on the boat