Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Life in the Slow Lane

"Life in the Slow Lane"

I recently saw a t-shirt with a quote from famed race car driver Michael Andretti that said, "If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough." I chuckled at the notion and then began reflecting on the last 15 months that we have spent sailing along at a blistering 7 knots. At times even that snail's pace seemed too fast and I wished I could slow down.

I coincidently received an e-mail around the same time from a friend back home inquiring about a few things related to our time at sea that I have not written about. The reality is that cruising, in many ways is not much different than life on land. The everyday tasks of living and life must continue. Sure there are additional challenges at times based on our limited space and often exotic surroundings that are new and unusual, but for the most part they are much like life at home. The personal and interpersonal challenges you face on land still exist at sea. The issues that are a challenge in Idaho are still a challenge in Panama, Guatemala, Belize, or wherever life takes you.

The more challenging questions asked by my friend revolved around lessons learned and how one integrates back into life once we return home. I was particularly challenged by a question asking how we would find fulfillment in Nampa Idaho after such an exciting and life changing experience. Everyone who chooses to live out a life dream understands somewhere deep in their heart before they attempt it that the experience will change them. The scary part is wondering if I will like the change and the challenge really becomes how to take the adversity and triumph experienced while attempting the dream and mold them both into character building events.

How a particular individual or family, in this case the Wheelers, achieve a positive end-result is as varied as the individuals who choose to live out a lifelong dream. The real key, it seems, is learning to take adversity and triumph and use them BOTH as building blocks. Not steps upon which one props themselves up but foundational building blocks that become the core of who an individual is.

Amy and Marshall have seen more and experienced more in the last 15 months than they or we could have ever imagined. Susan and I have experienced highs and lows entirely new to us even after 22 years of marriage. We are learning that finding fulfillment is not about arriving at a place but about the process. For me life provided great fulfillment at 7 knots learning and becoming proficient at the process of sailing and living in harmony with the sea. Others like Michael Andretti find fulfillment in the process of driving a race car at 180 miles an hour. One does not take the place of the other and they are simply different avenues for different people to live out a dream.

We decided to take a chance and go for a dream that had been incubating within us for over 10 years. Deciding to go was the hardest part. Once we had decided to go we committed ourselves to making it happen and then the journey of discovery we found ourselves on provided daily opportunities for us to expand ourselves.

The key for me was slowing down enough that I could get the target in focus. I had spent 20 years in the fast lane and the result was a blurry image of life. Many who knew me questioned whether I could stand moving at a sailor's pace for any extended period of time. Not only did we tolerate it but we got to liking moving along at a slower pace. Still, I would presume that some might need to find a way to add some speed to their journey to bump them out of a rut and onto new and fertile soil. Whichever tack you choose (sailing pun intended) the message is clear to this sailor, dreams are worth attempting and fulfillment comes not from arriving at a destination but learning from and enjoying the moments of the journey.

The 4Wheelers

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