Friday, April 19, 2013

A Fork In The Road

The Papillon crew is a family divided at the moment.  While the girls and I visit long-lost friends and relatives, Erik is on the boat, hard at work welding fuel tanks and replacing swage fittings.  It is a little disconcerting to be so far apart after 2.5 years of togetherness.  The girls and I miss him.  But I also worry.  Because I get emails like this:

Subject: Think I just bought a car...

Of course, the car turned out to be free, but why put that in the subject line when you can give your wife a heart attack instead?

But, leaving hard-working husbands to their own devices, it has been fun to be "home" again - although, as Indy tells everyone, this is not home - she lives on a boat.  To her, this is just some odd collective where all of our relatives reside, stuck in one spot forever.  Frankly, I think she feels a little sorry for them.
Sure, you people get to wear cool boots, but why do you live in such a cold place?
This visit has also been a somewhat eerie look into what my life would have been like had we never left.  The other day I had lunch with a friend; I'll call her Jane.  Jane's family parallels ours in many ways: two young girls, Dad working long hours at a job he loves, Mom choosing against a capital "C" Career in favour of being the family glue.  They are building a (beautiful) house.  The kids participate in a lot of activities.  They are happy.  And that could so easily have been my life.  Had we taken a different fork in the road, I can see us in that place.

As I've made dates and gone shopping with my mom and done all of the regular, everyday activities I used to do all the time, I have been trying to figure out what is different.  Because I am different.  Oh, I'm sure that in most ways I am still the same old Amy that I ever was, but I find that I don't react to things the way I did before.

I have lost my sense of urgency.  We've been off the treadmill for a long time now.  No appointments.  No schedules.  No paid work.  Instead we moved slowly, and took the time to notice people and the world around us in a way we never would have before - because we thought we didn't have time.

I have time.  I have oodles of time.  Not just because I am incredibly lucky and am in this privileged position.  I recognise how fortunate I am, and I am grateful every day.  No, I have time because I am willing to be slow.  I am willing to do less, but do it well.  If I can cut extra activities out of my day, and instead spend some time helping Indy ride a bike, or play a game with Stylish?  Or chat for an extra 30 seconds with the lady on the other end of the bank helpline instead of being all business?  No contest.  That, my friends, is what I have learned from cruising.  It isn't all about snorkelling in exotic places.  Life's richness comes from these beautiful small moments.

I expect I've gotten weird(er) to the people back home.  It certainly isn't normal to be the slow one in a world in a hurry.  But one of the nice things about cruising is you quickly lose interest in other people's expectations.  I'm happy with being slow.  We'll have to see what that means for us when we move back to land but, somehow, I think it is going to work out just fine.


Paul in Iowa said...

More power to you, Amy, as you buck the pressure to conform to status quo. No doubt you are a blessing to those around you as you lovingly challenge them with your perspective and values. I am sure you have no idea how you are influencing others with your simple, slower, different-valued lifestyle. Keep up the good work.

Kate said...

You seem more content, it doesn't come off as weird.

Love Kate

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy: It sounds very much like being retired. What a wonderful time it is.

Ruth and Carl