In that I accepted his bribe of a great discount on TypePad software and hosting, as well as his direct support (he’s a TypePad beta-tester), I feel compelled to speak about my world a bit, now. Oh, and thanks again Paul for the help, and the shove, here. It’s still much appreciated.
Perhaps the most often asked question I hear is "why do you live on a boat?” Although my answer may vary a bit depending on the context of the question, generally the answers revolve around what you’ll be reading.
I grew up around ‘em out in San Diego, CA. I’m very used to the water, the life around the docks. Sea air fills my lungs, the cries of the gulls sing in my ears. I hear the water lap gently on the hull while tied securely to the dock. I am gently rocked to sleep most every night, and when the water is mirror-smooth, the quiet is most complete.
Having been married and divorced, twice, I’ve also done the home-ownership thing. Twice. Both times, the acquisition of “the house” was the holy grail to the missus. Once obtained, “the house” became the do-all, end-all, be-all; the very reason for existence.
I’d developed at a very early age, the philosophy that a any home is a home base. A place from which to go forth, to explore life. Instead, a house comes to own it’s erstwhile “owners”. Hah. The ball and chain so often depicted on cartoons of prisoners has nothing on a suburban home’s hold on it’s occupants. Honeydo lists are so often the subjects of mirthful comics. And they’re almost always about “what the house needs”.
All the while, there’s a WORLD out there, and it doesn’t care about your mortgage, your gutters, your siding or your yard.
Once, the saleslady who represented our office supplier related to me the tale of her Dad. He’d worked all his life and had hoped “one day” to buy an RV and see the country. Yes, he was a good man, a great provider. Raised two kids, did the home-thing and did it all quite well. But, he always spoke of his dream.
When he finally retired at 62, sadly, he died a month later from a massive coronary. His daughter told me that they’d all begged over the years for vacations, trips, and exploration; adventure. Being “Mr. Responsible”, he had checked off all of the “dutiful” boxes for his family. But listening to his daughter, I know that she’d have traded half of the stability for just a TASTE of that ride with her Dad.... in the RV that never was.
Growing up around adults, at about the time I was 17, I made a very clear observation, and a tentative conclusion. (yeah, I thought in these terms, even then.) The reason that most men go “middle age crazy” is that they had dreams. Then, life snuffs those dreams. Ladies, that’s not your fault, it’s just the way the system works. We’re programmed to pursue “The American Dream”.
But in that pursuit, other dreams are lost. The desire to see what’s over the horizon. Chances to venture forth and explore. The average man marries too early, too young and too inexperienced. I did, too.
(Here’s Uncle Jim’s marriage tip for you sweet young women. Find a guy who has lived some, first. And I don’t mean clubbing and sowing wild oats. Well, okay, some of that, too.)
I think the dream doesn’t necessarily mean buying a $100,000 house, just to have another $200,000+ tacked on in interest. I can build a house from the ground up, with my hands and my tools. Should I ever move back ashore, I’ll most likely move to a house of my own making. With no damned mortgage either.
Don’t take me wrong. A boat demands great responsibility, too. I paid this one off in 18 months, and it’d cost over $90,000 to replace, today. And I’m NOT rich. Fact is, I’m as close to broke as I’ve ever been. But I know how to work my ass off and produce. I’ve proven that, repeatedly. New goals are presenting themselves in my life, even as I write this. I’ll rise to meet those challenges, and I shall prevail.
What’s been right for me, is not, will not and can not be right for most. I’m happy that it is so. I don’t want everyone moving onto their boats. Hell, marinas would then be but overcrowded suburbs.
Myself, I’ve motorcycled more than a quarter-million miles, seeing thirty-nine states and parts of Mexico. I’ve worked in high-rise construction, having rappelled off of almost every tall building in San Antonio, TX as a part of my work. I’ve spent almost six years behind the badge, both in the USAF and a small San Antonio suburb.
With but a High School education, I achieved a high, executive position, working directly for the President of a Fortune 1000 company for eight years. I've been published, and paid to speak at conventions. I’ve since made a fine living by my wits alone, in straight-commission sales. I can do "responsibility"
Aboard ship, I’ve sailed along stretches of the Texas Gulf coast. I’ve about worn out Galveston Bay. I’ve sat out three tropical storms and Hurricane Claudette, (and a few near-misses), all on board, here.
I would have loved for either of the women I had married to have carried forward with me through this life. But to them, the “security” of the house was everything. To me, it was a coffin that hadn’t been covered yet. They chose to marry those houses. I chose to marry the horizon.
I can breathe here on the boat. I can untie from the dock and GO.
How many of YOUR dreams will die with you, unlived?