You may have noticed that my posts have slowed to two days per week rather than three. You may have noticed I am dealing with some pains, sorrows, fears more than usual; my post about our time in Papua New Guinea held darkness. When my home city was hit by a very dark and evil man in my absence, my heart and mind felt so broken that I could not think of anything good to say in my blog. No images felt colorful anymore, my words and thoughts failed me.
Good meaning and loving friends are reaching out from all over telling me “You are so lucky to be away.” “Must be nice to have the money and time to escape.” When I start fiddling around with the question of whether I am repaying the debt of my existence with contributing my skills, friends will say “You can’t save the world, go drink a beach cocktail.” I’ve heard: “Who do you think you are?” and “I’m worried about you, don’t worry, Dear.”
How I wish I could escape sometimes. I admit it. I am struggling. My heart is raw with fear about passages, sadness for my city, anger at the way many people in my country are behaving, compassion for the fact that there are hard issues going on. These things are interfering with my ability to enjoy the beauty, peace, and friendliness of the world that I am out here exploring. I’m trying my damnedest not to let these things ruin everything. I’m trying with my whole try-er.
If you know me at all, you know I try too hard sometimes. You know I can be a little sensitive. You know I over think things. It’s what I do. This is me. I’ve spent time fighting these qualities, trying to eliminate them, or trying to improve them. This tactic fails every time. When I bury these qualities or ignore them, things start to go wrong in my life. I lose my creativity, my logic, my energy. Years ago, I was forced to realize they are powerful forces that can be used for good or for evil. (A story for another day.) Eventually, I called a truce with myself. I’ve accepted this is who I am and settled on trying to interact wisely with these qualities.
Slowly, I’ve grown to appreciate me a little more. I make a living from these qualities. I can play a damn good game of softball because of these qualities. I will definitely slide into third base if necessity warrants it, even in a beer league slow pitch softball game on a team comprised of my work colleagues. I like to think of my wild-eyed enthusiasm and dark sensitivity as my thank you note to the higher power, an acknowledgement that I love life.
I also have learned a few ways they can lead me astray. If I let them rule the roost, they drag me away into countless distractions. If I’m not careful, people skilled in the art of persuasion who know these qualities about me can use them to motivate me - for better or worse. I have had parents, coaches, teachers, mentors - including The Boss - use these things to lead and guide me. But sometimes, I can feel embarrassed and ashamed of them. They scare me. I don’t trust them because sometimes they are a little…shall we say…intense.
As I’m sure you suspect these guys all have names. You wouldn’t think that I would name my boats, my cars, my garden plants but not name the most powerful moving forces inside me, would you? She Who Is Wise is named Judith. I don’t know why. You can laugh at/with me about this. I think its funny, too. Don’t over analyze it.
Andrew possesses his own band of crazies, so don’t let him convince you I’m off my rocker. Oddgodfrey - whom you all know - is the wild-eyed, pie in the sky, unicorn in Andrew’s soul with a serious case of wanderlust and a refusal to be told something can’t be done. The Evil Overlord is the cold, calculating, lover of logic, world history buff, and scientist responsible for preventing Andrew and Oddgodfrey from being derailed from outside influences. I think Andrew has at least one more little guy in there, but that one is shy, so even though I have seen him around, I don’t know his name, yet.
Anyway, I digress. My point is when I left to go sailing, I never held any notion I could leave these guys behind. I knew that my Over-Thinker, Over-Tryer, and Ms. Sensitivity would hop aboard Sonrisa right along side me, like always. They love SCUBA diving, but one of them is afraid The Evil Overlord will cut my air hose. They love white sand beaches, but one of them is afraid I will step on a cone snail and die approximately 24 hours later from extremely toxic poison. They love rum, but sometimes they worry I drink too much.
I can’t escape them, and because they are so intensely in love with their people, they refuse to let me drink away my worries at a sailor’s bar decorated with women’s undergarments. That’s okay, though, I never went sailing to escape. I loved my career, my house, my garden, my city, my family and friends. I didn’t want to escape these things. I left because I felt sailing would give me wonderful insights I could use to make life better and more beautiful for myself, my husband filled with wanderlust, and maybe for my people at home, too. I didn’t know how, just somehow.
Nonetheless, leaving my people to go sailing was like ripping a plant from its most formed root stalks. I come from a long line who grow deep, deep roots wherever they live. I come from small town Tooele, Utah. I am the fourth generation of people on my mom’s side to live in this town, and before that, they arrived from Yugoslavia, the part now known as Slovenia. I suspect they were in their spot in Yugoslavia/Slovenia for a few generations back as well. On my Dad’s side, I am at least third generation citizen of Tooele. I am genetically and socially designed to grow roots. When I moved to Vegas, I grew roots. As I sail to new places, I immediately get attached to people and beauty in those locations and I start to grow roots there, too. This is who I am.
I knew when I left I wouldn’t be happy if I abandoned my emotional connection to the people at home I loved most. To address this reality, we bought a satellite phone, we buy SIM Cards with data in each port, I write my blog, I email and call home. I use Facebook more than I ever did because it is the cheapest and most easily available method to reach home in the remote countries I'm visiting. Most of the time, this keeps me happy, balanced, and at peace. But, watching everyone's reactions on Facebook about recent US events caused Over-Thinker, Over-Tryer and Ms. Sensitivity to get fired up. They are unhappy with the way hard topics are being discussed; and when they are unhappy I know I’m in trouble. I better call Judith-the-Wise to my aid or I will do something crazy.
If I were living in Las Vegas, I would have donated blood, opened my home to people whose family members are injured, gone to work, hugged my friends. I would be soothed by my best efforts to help and close friendship. Maybe the Three Sisters would be appeased. But, I’m far away and I’m isolated on a 400 Square Foot Boat with my husband who - god love him - doesn’t want to hear the Leslie-Band play sometimes.
Some people are criticizing me for being more concerned by something that happened in my home than the poverty and challenges I see out here. I’m sorry for that. I can’t explain it either, other than to say I do not understand the issues and complexities involved in the places I visit, so I have very few skills to offer to help. For now, I’m here to learn from them. I do know Las Vegas. Sonrisa carries its name on her hull as her home port. Las Vegas is home.
Furthermore, most of the people we visit out here seem so happy. They don’t need my help, I need theirs. They have approximately 1000% fewer economic and educational opportunities than we do in America, and yet, they are at peace, they live in beauty, they help each other, and they are kind. Vanuatu is consistently ranked one of the happiest nations in the world. Drug addiction and suicide rates in the places we visited are lower than the US. From the second port I entered in Mexico, I suspected these people know something we don’t.
The purpose of this post is to give you context and warn you about my next series of posts. Don’t worry, the next posts aren’t political, but they were impacted by political things happening. They aren’t all dark, but they are impacted by darkness. They will include some moments of repose and escape we all crave, but they are also honest about two of the hardest months I have had sailing, yet. I’m trying to focus on exploring and learning out here. We are escaping to moments of beauty and innocence. I am also experiencing pain, a desire to help my community from afar, and a desperate confusion over how this tiny cog can make any difference at all.