I aspire to be happy, healthy, and wise. I think many of us do. And for me, once I’d figured out that my old materialistic lifestyle was not making me especially happy, I needed to find a new set of values. These were pretty fundamental questions I was asking, a major change of life direction.
I had a wonderful month in early 2004 when I retreated to a small cottage on the west coast of Ireland for a period of reading and reflection. When I first decided to row across oceans, one of my hopes was that the solitude would give me a further opportunity to think about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.
To an extent my hopes were fulfilled on the Atlantic – although I spent too much time feeling sorry for myself, which is not conducive to thinking big or constructive thoughts.
This time around has been more successful – partly because I have wasted less mental energy on self-pity. Another factor has doubtless been the wonderful audiobooks donated by Audible.com via Leo Laporte. It was a random selection – his choice rather than mine – but it has been an excellent assortment and some of the books have stretched my mind in new directions. Some people – like Henry David Thoreau on Walden Pond – may be able to go into the wilderness and arrive independently at fundamental truths, but personally I find it helpful to get some input from outside sources to stimulate the thought processes.
I’ve come to regard my little rowboat as my own personal floating nun’s cell – a place for quiet contemplation. (In fact my existence generally has been quite nun-like: Poverty and chastity are pretty easy out here – but I’m afraid obedience is not my strong suit, no matter where I am!)
I realize I’m very lucky to have this opportunity to ponder and reflect – but I think it’s possible, given enough determination, for most people to find opportunities for reflection. I’ve got a friend who runs a business and has two young children, and she manages to find the time to go away on retreats to pursue Journeywork (a process of self exploration).
Another option is to find a few minutes each day to try and put aside all the more mundane tasks and preoccupations that all too easily take over everyday life, and focus on questions of a more spiritual nature.
Or my favourite way – which I am sorely missing at the moment – is to retreat to a coffee shop with my journal to spend some time thinking and writing. And having a caramel latte and a bran muffin. Somehow the indulgence seems justified by it being part of my spiritual ritual. Well, that’s my excuse, anyway!
I guess that many people just don’t feel the need to do such things. But my perception is that a lot of people have feelings of unhappiness, isolation, dissatisfaction or dis-ease, which may well be rooted in having neglected the spiritual side of their life. Speaking from personal experience, I can say that when I started to think about life more deeply, I started to feel more connected to other people, and this in turn brought me greater energy, happiness, and a sense of purpose.
And isn’t that what, ultimately, we all want?
Position at 2100 21st August HST, 0700 22nd August UTC: 22 23.975’N, 152 05.886’W.
I’ve been keeping a close eye on my progress across the degrees of latitude. Since I crossed 130W I’ve been averaging about 1.7 days to cross one degree. But the last 3 degrees have taken 2 days each. So my ETA in Hawaii may slip back a day – but with weather, anything can happen, good or bad. So we’ll just wait and see.
The wind really kicked up late this afternoon, which made for some character-building rowing after it got dark. The stars were hidden by clouds and the moon doesn’t rise for a couple more hours. Imagine being tossed around on mountainous seas when you can’t see a thing apart from the red glow of the compass. Quite glad to be in my cabin now!
Thanks for the great messages – especially Sandi, John, Chris, Eric, Roger et al.
Thanks to Ken for the info about Iridium satellites. I would have hoped, if I am seeing the sun reflecting off satellites, that my reception might be better. It seems to be getting worse as I get closer to Hawaii.
Interesting comment from Roger about the need for some more masculine reusable grocery bags. Not sure what to suggest for that. Maybe the Chico bags, which scrunch up so small that nobody knows you are carrying them at all? Or maybe you just need to be more secure in your masculinity/eco-friendliness. Say all together now: I’m green and I’m proud!
Click here to view Day 89 of the Atlantic Crossing 27 February 2006: Will She or Won’t She? – could Roz reach Antigua in less than 100 days?