I’ve fantasized many times about my last post on this blog. My first vision was a re-creation of the last scene of the Lord of the Rings, with Frodo disappearing over the horizon, heading for the Grey Havens.
My goal in beginning this blog was to chronicle our sailing adventures. Back at Our So-Called Life, on March 8, 2011, I began sharing our journey into a rather unorthodox lifestyle, our fascination with minimalism, and–most importantly–our experiences on our new-to-us sailboat, Moonraker.
Throughout that year, I shared a touching tribute to my mother-in-law, who passed away unexpectedly while preparing for our Mother’s Day visit, and we drank a toast to her while underway for our first cruise that summer.
A much younger-looking version of me took the helm as we headed out on our first adventure.
As most of you know, that trip did not end as planned, as we ran aground after a week underway and had to end our season while the boat was repaired. Devastated, I wrote that “my soul was sinking, failing.”
I thought I was seeing the end of a dream, when all I was really seeing was an opportunity to dust off my knees and get back up after a fall.
That summer, as we had taken off on Moonraker, I had been searching. I had been seeking a place over the rainbow, where everything would be better, all right.
Since my early 20’s, my life had carried a theme of running away. As newlyweds, we moved away from the town where we had grown up. Then we moved into the middle of the woods, thinking we were closer to that perfect place, where everything was all right.
When that didn’t pan out as hoped, we fantasized about moving to the Upper Peninsula, or possibly to the west side of Michigan. Every port we had encountered became a potential home. Maybe one of those places would be the magical place for us.
In the summer of 2012, when the journey over the water came to an end, we began searching for that perfect place at home. We embraced the minimalist lifestyle and began frantically getting rid of possessions.
We became crunchy, we tried to get off the grid, and I even followed the Fly Lady’s program for awhile! We were passionately anti-consumer and felt strongly about our life style choices.
Our summer ended with a call from the marina and an “epic” sailing trip through what was left of hurricane Rita.
The following school year, I found that my head was never in the game, and all I could think of was returning to the water. I loved our adventure sailing, and I was certain that I had found the place where everything was “right.”
And the summer of 2012 seemed to only prove me correct.
My writing also took an exciting turn during that summer, as I was featured on Miss Minimalist. As we returned to land in August, I had a great deal of friends to keep in touch with.
Being a writer had long been a dream of mine, and during the fall and winter of 2012, my confidence increase with the encouragement of other bloggers. My posts became more philosophical, as I began to question the doubts and fears I had held about myself.
I opened up and shared “secrets” that I thought were a part of the “real me” that I tried to hide.
We further embraced the minimalist lifestyle and spent the winter living in our basement, to save money and to gain experience living simpler.
With our success living in the basement and the positive feedback I received from my writing, we became brave enough to question our status quo. Perhaps it was time to travel again.
After a lot of introspection, I began applying for jobs across the country, in Texas, and we pack and left in the summer of 2013. To this date, we have not launched Moonraker again.
You were there with us as we settled into our apartment, and then onto our first full-time boat.
After the move, it surprised me to see the same patterns repeating themselves. Here I was, 1300 miles away, living the life I’d dreamed. I was a crunchy minimalist, living on a sailboat, and I had left such a difficult situation. I was supposed to be in that place over the rainbow, and yet I was not.
What I did not share on this blog is that, with that realization after our move, 2 1/2 years ago, came the beginning of my real journey.
Over that time, I learned that running away is limited in its usefulness, because our external circumstances have little bearing on our happiness and peace of mind.
And that is because what we are seeing, isn’t really happening.
We think we are fighting an internal battle against fear, but what we don’t see is that fear is based on things that aren’t even real. Nobody is intending to harm us–they are in their own misunderstandings, perhaps, but we are interpreting their words and actions based on our own misunderstandings.
There is no internal battle. There is only growth, from the beginnings of understanding into greater understanding. As we understand, we stop fighting.
We learn that our deepest secrets are nothing more than our common experience of fear. We all have scars on some level, but they are not who we are. Who we truly are is what we experience during times of freedom from fear. And that is love.
It is only when we begin to discover this that we are able to break the constantly-repeating patterns in our lives. It doesn’t need to involve moving onto a boat or traveling across the country. All it really requires is a change in the way we see and understand the world and everyone in it, especially ourselves.
When I began writing this blog, I was searching. I wanted to find that place of peace, of no-fear. At first I thought it would be across the ocean, which is why I thought I would end this blog with a video of us disappearing over the horizon.
As I traveled through my journey within, I thought that I was searching for a place of constant awareness, or the ongoing knowledge that love is all that is real. I was looking for an end to suffering, an overcoming of fear.
I have “achieved” neither of those things.
One day, it is likely that we will disappear over that horizon. And with every waking hour, I learn to see reality more clearly, gradually breaking away from the fear that distorts it. But I also now realize that this is a lifetime journey.
The nearly 5 years that I spent writing this blog was instrumental in this journey. There was a time when I needed to write in order to sort out my thoughts and discover my identity. And I needed to have my words read. I needed the direct support of people on similar journies.
And yet, as time has gone on, my journey has become more and more private. I trust my own insights, because I know them to be true in my heart. Writing here once was a daily necessity for my peace of mind. Now writing once a month has become a chore.
Journeying into peace has led me to live more experientially. I have enjoyed sharing our story and our journey here, but the time has come now to just live it.
So many of you–more than I could possibly count–have helped me tremendously on this journey. I want to thank you, and I want to say that I hope I have helped you on yours as well. But what I have learned is that love is never a one-way street. If love flows in my direction, it has flowed in yours as well.
So instead, I will say that I am grateful that we have grown from knowing each other.
I will continue with my writing in other venues, and I am on Facebook and Twitter. I do sometimes still answer my e-mails, but I can not promise a speedy response!
I will conclude this blog by making reference to the poem “Ithaka” by Constance Caverfy, which inspired the blog’s title.
I thought I would end this blog when I reached my own personal “Ithaca,” but I have learned that in life, Ithaca doesn’t actually exist. We are all on a journey. We are all working to overcome fear, grow in love, and see reality as it is. It is a constant growing, not a “graduation,” where we arrive and live happily after. Happiness and joy are found in each moment where we experience life as it is, and the fact that we will inevitably experience fear again does nothing to diminish this joy.
And if this joy is Ithaca, then I could never find it poor.
Thank you for being a part of the journey.