I have dared to write up on my whiteboard a list of the degrees of longitude that remain to be rowed, so I can cross them off as I complete them. This is quite a symbolic act, a momentous landmark, a fundamental shift in my attitude.
I’ve found that, for the first half-and-a-bit of a voyage, I have to take a very present-moment attitude to my work. I take each day as it comes. Each day I do my best. Some days that results in good progress. Other days not so good. And on bad days, I go backwards.
But whatever happens, I just accept it. If I start thinking about the voyage as a whole I begin to get impatient, and obsessed with how many miles I have covered – and that way lies madness. So I just keep showing up, day after day, and sticking my oars in the water.
It is only when I am well into the voyage that I begin to dare to think about finishing. And even then I have to be cautious not to get ahead of myself. Small pieces are what I have to focus on. The next 100 miles, or one degree, or the next 10 miles.
Right now I am at a dangerous moment – because things are going well. Since I passed halfway, I have been covering one degree of longitude roughly every two days. The assorted variables – current, wind, and swells – have averaged out to keep progress surprisingly consistent, lulling me into a false sense of security. I’ve started running the sums, and guesstimating an ETA based on a rolling average. I’ve even, occasionally, started to get excited.
But there could still be surprises, and at sea the surprises are rarely pleasant ones. I still have a very long way to go. I have to keep myself healthy, injury-free, and connected to my boat. I’m telling myself more than I’m telling you that it ain’t over till the fat lady sings (or should that be until the whale sings) and still anything could happen – and knowing oceans, it probably will.
The other day I saw a plastic drink bottle floating by, looking pristine and new, as if it had just been dropped hours ago. But I haven’t seen another vessel in over 3 months, so it must have been out here a while. Yuck.
I’m having problems with email, so haven’t been able to pick up incoming messages since last night – so I don’t have the latest batch of comments. Sorry about that. I’ll catch up on the backlog once I manage to get the satphone data connection to work.
Quote for the day – on having the discipline to keep going when the going gets boring: “We’re doing the work because we’re doing the work.” (Margaret Wheatley, author of “Perseverance”)
Photo: my mile counter from the Atlantic
Sponsored Miles: 28 miles rowed. More sponsors’ names soon.