I have launched into another world. I’m currently flying miles above the earth on a Jet Blue airplane from Cartagena Colombia to New York City. Bill and I are on our way home to Maine to spend Christmas with family. After living aboard Alembic and traveling on the ocean where I could simply reach over the side and dip my hand into the seawater, this flying vessel interrupts my sense of connectedness to the earth. My world for the past three months has become more and more simplified as I sail, swim, and walk on or near the ocean.
Most of my time has been aboard or very near our compact sailboat, Alembic. We swim close to the boat, and venture a bit further away by dinghy to reach areas too shallow for our five foot draft. Sometimes we roam on foot on nearby shores to meet people, exercise, or shop for food and boat parts. Other times we paddle our SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) around an anchorage for exercise, exploration, visiting people, or as a visible buoy traveling beside a swimmer (Bill or me), so the swimmer doesn’t get run over by passing boats.
The number of hours I have been apart from the boat has been minimal. In the past three months, I can count the number of times that I have traveled by means other than by boat, on foot, or swimming. Here’s the count: we took a taxi in New York City, rode bikes in Cape May and in Oriental NC, rode in the cars of Jim and Anne, Rick, and Bruce a few times in Annapolis to pick up boat parts, took a taxi to bring Lindsay to and from the airport in George Town, took one bus ride to Cartagena, and one taxi ride to the airport to catch this plane. That’s it! This adds up to about ten hours of travel other than by foot, swimming, riding the dinghy, or sailing.
Some people ask me “When are you coming back to the Real World?” I think I am living in the Real World when I sail by the wind, catch rainwater from the sky, eat fish from the sea, charge batteries by solar and wind power, walk barefoot on the ground, and stay continuously mindful of the weather. Each day, I rise with the sun, sit in the cockpit with my tea, and contemplate my day’s adventures. Each night, I watch the sun set, and consider when the moon will rise. This feels very real to me.
I don’t want to be judgmental; after all, this trip is about finding peace and perspective while opening up my lens for a more broad view of the world. I won’t interpret the term Real World because it is different for everyone, and each of us has to define it from our own unique experience. I am grateful every day for this opportunity to explore the meaning of Real World for me.
All I can say for certain, is that I feel confused right now, up here in this plane. I have missed my children, parents, other family members and friends terribly while I sail, and look forward to seeing most of them on the other end of this flight. This flight is linking my separate worlds in time, but not helping me figure out how to link them in my heart. I suppose I must learn to navigate my discreet Real Worlds. And perhaps they are more connected than they appear.