“Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour." ~ Walt Whitman
There are times when cruising offers up a double-edged sword, moments of beauty and moments of pain. What, you ask? Cruising isn't "living the dream"? Well, yes it is, but I refer to…the isolation. The ocean is a big place, even when coastal cruising, so there is isolation at times. It's never an easy thing to handle, for it contains both beauty and pain, truth be told. The beauty can be everywhere and evident, yet as for the pain....well, everyone feels it differently, and everyone deals with it differently.
For me, I feel the pain most poignantly after friends leave; the boat is quiet and large, and there is a slightly uneasy feeling of something missing. It’s a feeling of loss, a feeling of being too far away, of being alone, of being without easy contact with loved family and friends. It’s difficult to handle at times; for me, isolation intensifies the emotion of longing and love, making the simple act of missing everyone all that more difficult. That is the curse.
A second edge to the curse is if you are a "people person". Because beyond missing loved ones, just the social isolation can be quite hard if you enjoy being with people. Ron, for instance, is very much a type A, gregarious personality. He loves being active and wants to be doing something – and all the more fun if he's doing it with others – be it fishing or diving, exploring new places or bicycling on island. He enjoys sharing his hobbies with others, the simple "doing" as well as the companionship. (For him, isolation and enforced inactivity is cause for mutiny aboard!) Thankfully, we are always meeting new friends and faces; happily, it is in our nature to be open and receptive to doing so! But it is also the reason that isolation and seclusion can be a challenge. Who knew?
Yet despite the disadvantages and pain, there are times when isolation is a thing of incredible beauty and growth: imagine being on anchor by a beautiful palm-lined shore of a secluded island with the one you love, walking hand in hand on pure white sand with nary a soul in sight. It’s truly bliss: being in the moment, enjoying the serenity of it all, sharing it together. It defies description. At that moment isolation is indeed an amazing experience, for it brings you closer to the one you love. Isolation brings a focus and an intimacy, something deeper than what the usual, chaotic, high-speed life on land allows -- definitely something to be cherished and appreciated!
Thus, the experience of being aboard, being alone on the water and being away from it all can be liberating. It gives you choices. In the quiet moments, you become aware of the infinity of the sea, the immense span of the sky, and the very tiny, infinitesimal role you might play in whatever wind-blown anchorage you find yourself. The solitude brings you closer to your inner spirit, closer to the truth of your place in the universe, and it forces you to face your challenges and examine your weaknesses. It allows you to dream and imagine, to sit back and reach for the stars. Go places in your mind, explore within your heart, and simply take time to realize what is truly is important in your life. There aren’t any land intrusions to judge or distract. And how amazing is that? Suddenly, solitude connects you to what is vital and meaningful.
I'm now able to sit back and accept that there is power in being alone, in solitude. I now recognize that cruising and being aboard is a gift: we are luckier than most in that we actually achieve that cursed, blessed solitude, that essential isolation in which we can examine our consciences, reflect on what satisfies our souls, and discover how to give wings to our dreams. Allow yourself to do the same, whether you are on land or on sea. The future seems limitless now, doesn't it?