Feb 20

Where’s the happiness?

Tag: introspection,routemattholmes @ 1:48 pm

When picturing our departure from the bay area, I always imagined a rapid sense of relief at the work being over, followed immediately by simple happiness and enjoyment of the journey.

It has not been that way.  I have been reluctant to admit this to everyone, because my deep fear has been that I made a colossal mistake, that I won’t end up liking this way of life, and I could barely entertain the consequences of that realization in my own brain, let alone tell the world that I have spent the past few years and all my money pursuing an activity that I don’t like . . .

However, the past few days I have felt my emotions coming around, and I have spent some time thinking about why, exactly, I haven’t seemed to be enjoying myself.  Before leaving the bay, I was spending every waking hour working on the boat getting it ready, and simultaneously spending tons of our savings.  This grew increasingly unpleasant, and I looked towards our departure for a change.  I assumed that upon leaving, all would be well.  But in retrospect it is clear that we experienced no break or relaxation once we left the bay.  It was difficult to sleep well while sailing down the coast, difficult to trust that the motor wouldn’t break, difficult to sleep again after breaking the windlass, difficult to unwind after discovering crucial bits of the rigging that needed tightening, difficult to relax while spending $35 a day in a santa barbara slip, and difficult to sleep again while anchored next to sharp rocks (see next post).

Also, anxiety about the proper functioning of the boat started out high, and is only now just barely starting to ease.  There are still a dozen jobs on the boat that seem to fall under the category of “immediate attention required”–but I don’t have enough attention to go around . . .  More importantly, Karen and I still have a ridiculous amount to learn, all to be acquired through direct experience (i.e. trial and error), and all of which is important for us to know right now.

With a clearer perspective, I can see that these sources of anxiety were normal, and to be expected, and I can cut myself a break for not finding immediate joy in the start of the trip.  Time is resolving these sources of stress, and in the past few days I have felt a definite lightening of the load.  As we start to trust the boat and trust ourselves, my anxieties decrease.  Each night that we spend on the boat while safely anchored increases my ability to sleep soundly.  And there is less and less that requires immediate attention, so the moments of relaxation are increasing.  Admittedly, I have been somewhat out of practice–of relaxing, that is.  Now I am having moments where I feel good, and happy, and excited about what is coming, free of undue worry.  It took longer than expected to feel this way; I cannot tell you what a relief it is to finally be truly enjoying myself and this wild adventure we’re on!

4 Responses to “Where’s the happiness?”

  1. Phil says:

    So glad you are beginning to relax into it. I think the whole process will slowly become more routine as time goes by.

  2. Karen says:

    you already know this, but I’ll, too, tell the world. I thought myself prepared for this first month to really really really suck – but I thought it would just be because of the weather. Um, I was wrong… But, as usual, I’m sure things will get better when we reach __________!

  3. Drewbai says:

    I think Wal of Stella Blue (from the Valiant list) had a similar low. See his post: http://www.wbryant.com/weblogs/b5_0909/index.htm “Fear and Loathing in Santa Barbara”

    Maybe when you catch up with him you can comapre notes.


  4. Capt. Puffy says:

    I am having those same fears and anxieties and we are 10 to 12 years away from starting the dream. I can’t at this moment fathom what you are going through, actually doing it! I will be watching and hoping it gets better for the two of you, for your sake and ours.

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