10 November 2009

Putting Flesh on the Bones of My Dreams


My life seems to be cluttered with half finished projects. A poster size map of the Inter Coastal Waterway, a book of architectural designs and master plan of a New Urbanism community, the twelve-string guitar I once knew how to play. They were all so easy to drop, too. As soon as I have that picture in my mind of what it will look like when it was finished, I no longer felt the need to create it. It is finished in my mind and that is good enough for me.
Sometimes I wonder if this trip will become another of those projects. I think I have bitten off a little more than I can chew. Sure I have dreamed of going off to sea in a 25' Catalina, spending months on board, eating eggs and cantaloupe for breakfast for weeks on end. The dreams started my freshman year in college and have grown stronger and clearer just as my responsibilities and forays into adulthood have multiplied. But, lately, I've been wandering around in the thoughts that it was too soon, that I know too little, that I have far too many other things that need to get done. Before, I had plenty of time to get it all done, over a year. Over a year
to plan, to write, to learn. But now, now it is less than a year and I feel as though I am no closer today than I was five months ago when I started this crazy plot. If I keep on making so little progress, I would be beyond stupid to set foot on a boat and think had enough skill, enough knowledge to get it down the coast of the Keys alone. I was starting to feel like it would be another project scattered on the heap of failures I had accumulated over the years.
You see, I am a dreamer. I can live for months on end in a daydream, explore every inch of it, taste it, smell it, dance in the warm air it is filled with. And it sustains me. It sustains me when life pulls on me from every direction. It calms my spirit. It draws the tension from every muscle. It is my escape. So just how could I have been stupid enough to ask more of it? Why could I not leave it to be my respite? Now, I have pulled it form my mind and settled it on firm ground. I have spoken of it and it has taken form. I have put a deadline on it. There are now real responsibilities tied to it. There are reservations to make, classes to take, funds to raise, a book to write. It is now out there. Out to be judged , out to be measured, out there to fail. And that was the direction it had been heading. Destined for failure, for desertion. And, thus, the beginning of self doubt.
It crept in slowly, undetected at first. I noticed July pass, and the thought that I had less than 1 year. August brought with it a total lack of headway on the book. Summer passed and with it all of my free time to get some sailing in. September passed and those warm dog days of summer sailing, too. October, with my birthday excuse to get some time on the water, gone. November was creeping steadily by. Soon New Year's would fly by with only half a year to go, and no progress would be made. And then sometime in late May, I would be making the decision to put it off for a year. Life would creep in and dissolve any last bit of momentum I had. A few years would pass and I might see someone I hadn't in a few years and they would ask, "How'd that sailing adventure go? Was it just the greatest thing?" and I would have to explain away my failure, make it seem like I was just being resposible, I didn't want to take a risk like that, my kids needed me, I wanted to feel more prepared.
I had almost resigned to this new direction. Until I got the email from Frank. He was making a trip to Catalina late in the season to take advantage of some of the rougher weather. He was looking for fog and rain and wind. He wanted to explore the bays and coves of the backside of the island, anchoring out and enjoying the uninhabited views. He wanted to teach. And for once everything lined up perfectly. He just happened to be going on my Thanksgiving break. My dad had just retired and was able to take the kids on a weekday. Shea and Eli had grown enough to enjoy a weekend at Nana and Moe's (not a bar, but their grandparents). Tony had some plans for the weekend and was due some time to just be a guy again, without a wife and kids to worry about. My birthday had just brought a bit of a bounty to pay for the trip.
It was a trip perfectly designed to teach me what I needed to know, how to anchor in small bays, how to use GPS blinded by fog, to navigate by chart, keep a log. Everything I need to know to enjoy a trip down the Florida Keys, navigating on my own, finding bays and anchoring for a light lunch and a sun-drenched swim. It gives me a chance to work out the minor details I might not have figured out the first time around. Do cell phones work out there? Can I hook up a GPS to my phone so my family can track my position form the comfort of their home? Can I reasonably plan a phone call home at the same time each day? How fast is the internet connection a marina promises to supply?
It, also, gives me the perfect chance to try out some new protocols for how I am going to deal with Diabetes in a whole new environment. How exactly does my need for insulin change by sitting on a boat all day? How will I find a way to exercise on board? I don't think running 7 miles on a 25' boat will work out too well. And how does a wet, marine environment affect things like blood glucose test strips?
I am un-used to self doubt and I don't like it. I am usually a pretty arrogant little creature. But I think that a plan that causes me to doubt myself just might bebig enough to challenge me. If I know from the start that I will accomplish it, it is not big enough, not even worth a try. But if I doubt, it is probably right there on the edge of what I am capable of. And that self-doubt will be just strong enough to make sure that I am prepared, that I have covered every angle, learned all that I can, and have prepared my brain and my body so that I might have a chance of actually doing this thing, so that when I am 80 and finally learn that the big C will finish me off soon, I can sit back satisfied knowing that once, when I was but a wee girl, I did something at the very edge of possible and now I am convinced of what I am made of and it is certainly more than sugar and spice, and everything nice.

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