Cruising and The Second Noble Truth
05 August 2013 | Malibu, California
February 8, 2011
My husband and I have a dream. It is not unlike many sailors' dreams. We want to cruise. Not necessarily sail around the world, though that does sound grand. We thought we would start small. Go to Mexico first. See how we like it. If we like cruising then why not go on to Costa Rica? We have always wanted to explore the jungles of Central America. From there, well, we will just have to see.
Our vessel of choice is a Hardin 45 we call Cadenza. She is a pretty one with sexy curves and heavy hips. Jay found her broken and abandoned in La Paz 18 years ago. I have known her for ten. We have spent thousands of hours fixing her, primping her, and getting to know her inside and out. She is comfortable with spacious living quarters. What is more, we trust her; she moves through heavy winds and high seas with steady determination. For us, Cadenza is the perfect boat to sail the Pacific. Why then do we find it so difficult to untie the lines? Of course there are some mitigating circumstances. Like the state of the economy, the collapse of the housing market, and what to do with the dogs. But if I am completely honest, it goes much deeper than that. Buddha teaches that attachment is the root of all suffering. I think he might be on to something.
We Americans work our entire adult lives building careers, starting businesses, buying homes, and accumulating stuff. We create an identity by what we accomplish; mother, television producer, student, wife. Our ego depends on this for survival, or so it would seem. Then the years pass, the children go, the ambition diminishes and retirement lurks around the corner. Suddenly the very things that defined my "self" no longer seem true. As the layers of my complicated existence begin to peel away and I shed all the characters I have portrayed thus far, I can't help but ask, "Who am I, really, and what now?"
That is one of the things I love about the boating community. No one asks what you do for a living or how much money you earn. The conversation goes more like this, "How did you fix your refrigeration?" "What are your thoughts on a generator?" and, "Have you heard the latest weather report?" Sure, there are those who have faster boats, bigger boats, even newer boats. But it is less about status and more about personal choice. And boaters are nothing if not generous. Given the opportunity, they will share a bottle of wine or their mechanical expertise. We have more friends in the marina than in our own neighborhood. And still, I find it hard to let go of the physical ties that bind us.
Then I start looking around my home and the questions continue. "Do I really need two refrigerators? Do two people really need four bathrooms?" True, I like my stuff. I like the comfort of a beautiful home and I like the luxury of a Jacuzzi bathtub. I like the implied security of knowing that I have a warm and safe place to lay my head at night. (I say implied only because we all know security is an illusion.) But big houses mean big bills and lots of rooms to clean. That I don't particularly like. It holds us captive. It keeps us from experiencing our lives because we are too busy either working to pay for what we have or worrying about paying for what we have. Suddenly I feel like the hamster on the wheel; running fast and going nowhere.
This brings me to the realization that now may be the time. Put the house on the market. Downsize, minimize. Only it is not just letting go of stuff. There is the emotional attachment. We raised our children here. Our grandson took his first steps there. And then there is the emotional-material attachment. Our daughter's first picture she ever painted. Do we keep that? What about the portrait of my mother-in-law? And who gets the piano? How do you take a lifetime full of material memories and decide which ones to keep and which ones have to go?
Change is never easy and the older I get, the harder it gets. Yet change, like the ebb and flow of the sea, is inevitable. I can go kicking and screaming, fighting against the tide, or I can swim with the current and allow my future to unfold, naturally.
So, the memories are distributed, the boxes are packed, and the house goes up for sale tomorrow. We are one step closer to our dream. Some people might call what we are doing courageous. Others would just call it stupid. The Dalai Lama would probably define it as liberating. I certainly hope so, because from where I stand, it looks a little bit scary.