Thursday, July 24, 2008

200 Days Afloat

200 Days Afloat-Dreams Considered and Realized

"Dad, I went down 40 feet and saw the cutest little flounder," exclaimed Amy as she ran toward me from the dive boat. For five days, Amy (12) and Marshall (10) have been completing their Junior Open Water Scuba Certification. They are now certified and enjoying all that Scuba has to offer, not to mention the cute little flounder.

For the last month we have been living in and experiencing all that the Bay Islands of Honduras have to offer. The people and the islands have exceeded our expectations with abounding friendliness, wonderful fishing and snorkeling, not to mention many beautiful anchorages. Our slower than normal pace of travel has also provided the time to reflect on our journey so far, and as we approached our 200th day cruising I found my mind and heart dwelling on dreams. Not those that come and go through the night but those that stay with us through life and provide direction and energy to our endeavors.

To many it seems, dreams reside as a vague notion, an indistinct vapor that appears and then quickly are gone without a trace. To others dreams burn with a white hot intensity and they become powerful motivators for action. But what are dreams and where do they come from, and perhaps more importantly, how do we respond to them throughout our lives?

In recent days I have become increasingly aware that many of the experiences we are now involved in cruising are the fulfillment of dreams started as a child for me. My childhood was one of great and varied experiences. I fell in love with the sea as a child living on the islands of Jamaica and Trinidad. In fifth grade I told my mom I wanted to be an ornithologist, and I have spent the rest of my life fascinated by birds. My favorite television programs as a kid were "Jacque Cousteau" and "Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom," or any show having to do with wildlife, the sea, or the natural world around us. Now I sit here on board Mima with the sea all around me and wildlife in every direction. This truly is a dream come true.

If the last 200 days have been the maturation of dreams held since childhood I am becoming more convinced that I need to dream more, and of the responsibility I have as a parent to encourage dreaming and risk taking in order to accomplish them. This notion also convinces me that the dreams I have, although uniquely mine, are the composite of all the forces that played active roles in my upbringing. My father and mother chose to leave the comfort of the United States in the early 70's to live in Trinidad and Jamaica. They were following their hearts but simultaneously instilled in mine a deep love and curiosity about other cultures and places. My grandfather invested untold hours of his retirement to show me the wild places and to love them. A university professor, and now dear friend, took my curiosity about birds and cultivated it into a deep and abiding passion for everything that flies.

If life is experienced at its highest by the fulfillment of dreams, I have few greater tasks than to model for and cultivate in my children the desire to dream and the confidence to attempt them. The diversity of stories told by cruisers about how they embarked on their own voyage has reinforced in my mind the reality that if the dream exists, and alongside it the courage to attempt it, those dreams that are today vague and indistinct can be sharpened and honed into a burning passion that provides direction and energy to an endeavor.

What does all this mean to a family from Idaho floating around the Caribbean? What stops us from stepping out and claiming the life we want for ourselves? I continue to ask those questions but I am reminded daily that living a life based on dreams is far more worth living than accepting the corporate or societal norm. We are wonderfully and uniquely made and we are best served, it seems, living like we were designed to live. Not to fill the mold or expectation of another but to embrace with confidence those dreams residing within each of us.

What will the experience of cruising around the Caribbean mean to Amy and Marshall in the years to come? We can only guess, but I grow more convinced daily that by living in response to dreams we weave into the tapestry of their lives diverse, challenging, and unique experiences that will create a platform upon which they can begin to dream good dreams and muster the courage to attempt them.

Until next time, dream well and fair winds.

The 4Wheelers