Those of you that know me know that I don’t do the outdoors very well. I don’t camp. It’s my biggest failing as a husband but it’s cancelled out by the fact that Heidi doesn’t watch horror films. In any kind of survival situation, I would probably not survive (so much for the zombie apocalypse.)
So why was I so attracted to this guy’s trip from Washington State to Chile on a sailboat? Believe me, you want to click on that link. He had an amazing trip full of the stuff that living is made of.
I’m almost always amazed by people that quit their jobs and do shit like this. Maybe it’s because it’s so NOT something that I can do. When you hit my age, you have responsibilities and obligations. I have a family that depends on my income and benefits. We have appointments and school events and all the mundane things that make a life. And, let’s face it, even if I were in the position to do something like that, I never would. For one, I’m not in good enough shape to do that, not to mention the fact that I don’t like fish enough to be able to live off of what I can catch (i.e. nothing) for the duration of such a trip. In the end, I’m way too risk averse to do something like that.
Yet there is something about his trip that is fascinating to me. What would it be like to sell everything and do something crazy like that? I don’t think for a minute that I would ever be able to do it – I mean, is there WiFi in the middle of the Pacific Ocean so I can stream music from Spotify? But a part of me is very envious of someone that leaves behind the trappings of Western society and just does stuff. He is, to paraphrase Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl, living and living now, something that I’ve been striving to do since that song entered my life. I’ve had varying degrees of success with that over the last 25 years.
I think the thing that I have to remember is that the photos in that Imgur photo set highlighted the best parts of the trip (hurricane notwithstanding.) Much like people’s carefully curated Facebook profiles, it presents the best of the best. It is curiously lacking in pictures of him sailing the boat in a rainstorm or being hungry because there’s nothing to catch to eat. One of the things my 40s have taught me so far is that it’s time to stop dallying and just do it. I am, for all intents and purposes, half way through my life – more than half way if I live to the average life expectancy of American males. Now before anyone thinks I’m having a midlife crisis, I can assure you I am not. I actually hate that term because it’s loaded with a stereotype of guys driving convertibles and trading in their 40 year old wives for two 20 year olds. But what’s wrong with evaluating where you are in your life, taking stock of what you’ve done and what you haven’t done and making sure that you acknowledge that time is a-wasting? Nothing. It’s normal, and if that’s a midlife crisis, well I guess so be it. It’s taken me a lot of years of therapy to realize that wanting what you don’t have isn’t a rejection of what you do have.
I wouldn’t make it on a sailboat in the Pacific. Visions of doldrums and the subsequent cannibalism that follows make it a non-starter for me. But I’m happy for this guy, whoever he is. And while I won’t ever do that, who’s to say that I can’t do my equivalent of it? I don’t even know what that equivalent is to be honest. But that’s ok. Because even though I’m half way through my life, it’s never too late.