It was a bit unfair of me to leave that obscure 15 reference last time out, sorry.
There’s no way you could know what I meant by it. That said Philip came surprisingly close with his thought that it was 15 weeks to get ‘Gleda’ ready to cross the Atlantic. Read on and by the end of this post you’ll see how close he was.
First though I need to set the scene.
Over the past few months I’ve been sinking into a kind of funk.
I was sort of expecting it. The same thing happened last year when we pulled into Marina Lagos. I put it down to some kind of winter blues. But this time it was worse.
At first there were plenty of wonderful distractions that kept this fog at bay. But there was no ignoring how I was feeling, I had an almost constant sense that something was wrong, that I was missing something. It started to feel like depression.
It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? We’re living the dream right? Reaping the rewards for years of work. Our days are full of sunshine and we have all the time in the world to enjoy them. If I can’t be happy with that what hope is there?
What the hell was wrong with me?. I needed to find out.
At first I thought the answer might be simple. Maybe it was just because we’d stopped sailing, I no longer needed to navigate, anchor watch, weather check, work the boat, plan ahead. When we’re sailing I’m the Skipper, I never really switch off. Maybe that was it, Maybe I just needed to adjust to not having that stuff to think about. Maybe it was the shift into Winter, shorter days, chilly nights. No doubt these things were contributing but there had to be more to it than that.
Gail headed back to the UK for a few weeks early December. I was home alone, no distractions, nothing that needed doing. I had to try and get to the bottom of it. I was scared. Without Gail to watch my back I felt vulnerable. I knew there were dangers lurking in the shadows.
This kind of internal retreat can be dangerous. It’s dangerous because you’ll likely uncover some deep truths about yourself and your dreams. You may not like what you find, but once dug up they can’t be reburied. You’ll have to make choices. You’ll have to deal with them.
Most people avoid the problem without even realising it. There are constant demands and distractions that allow months, years, a lifetime to drift by without them ever stopping to really think about their feelings, their life, their direction. Shit just keeps happening and they just keep dealing with it. Reaction over proaction.
They live their lives like a pinball being flipped from buffer to buffer until finally being taken out of play.
For me there was no avoiding the issue. I had to go digging.
So I thought, I wrote, I primed my subconscious to work while I slept and slowly I began to understand what was going on.
Firstly I no longer had any clear goals.
For the past decade I’ve been constantly working towards goals of some kind. For most of that time it was the big one, building ‘Gleda’.
Then came transport to the coast, launching, rigging, learning to sail her, getting to Falmouth. Once we were sailing the goals kept coming. Cross the Channel, cross Biscay, sail to Portugal.
When we reached Lagos last Autumn I already had the goal of reaching the Mediterranean in mind. I still fell into a funk but it quickly dissipated as I concentrated on finishing and publishing ‘A Foolish Voyage’ and working on the boat. More goals.
Now, having safely arrived here in beautiful Cartagena it dawned on me that I no longer had any specific goals in mind. That’s not to say there are none left to choose from. I still want to explore the Mediterranean, meet up with Jacques on ’Pilgrim’ and cruise round Corsica, take Gail to the Greek Islands, cross the Atlantic, sail the Pacific, cruise the Polynesian Islands.
Perhaps all I needed to do was to choose one and start work. Would that solve the problem.
But the more I thought about it though the more I realised it wasn’t as easy as that. These remaining goals are all substantial. All easily stated but far from easy to achieve. Even the least ambitious, that of cruising the Mediterranean requires some serious planning, preparation and resources. The most ambitious isn’t even a goal, it’s a distant dream.
I’d just uncovered Truth #1.
All these goals are out of reach right now.
But like I said earlier. If you go digging for this stuff you’re going to find it, and once you find it you’ve got to face it.
So why are these goals out of reach?
The answer to that lies with another truth. One that I’d secretly buried in a shallow grave a while back. I buried it because I didn’t want to face it. I didn’t want to face it because I knew what it meant. It meant I’d got some work left to do.
The Gleda Project is not yet finished.
The project was always about more than building a boat. From the start it was about creating a simpler, more fulfilling life, a life with the freedom to choose.
Crucially it was about creating a sustainable, financially independent life.
There it is. The one goal that rules them all. Living the life of a barefoot boat bum is all well and good but it imposes limits. I don’t want to live my life within those limits.
I need to make the cash I need to live the kind of life I want.
Truth # 3
Gleda isn’t yet ready to cross oceans. Crossing oceans was one of my original big goals.
She needs maintenance and improvements before we can safely tackle longer ocean passages. These things all need time and money thrown at them. I have the first but not the second.
I’m not getting any younger
There’s a reluctance to tempt fate here, but burying my head in the sand is even riskier.
I’ve been blessed with good health all my life. My body is holding up and in my head I’m still 30 something (occasionally much younger ;)). I trust The Universe will keep me that way for a while yet but I think it’s probably wise to be a bit more proactive about things. If I’m going to do the work then I want to be able to enjoy the fruits of my labour for a good few years after.
At the start of this process I cited my lack of clear goals. Dealing with these four truths will require creation and achievement of many goals. Lack of goals is no longer an issue.
I wish it were different.
Antoine De Saint-Expiry once said
“A goal without a plan is just a wish”
Someone else said
“A plan without action is just a dream”
I need to work and I need to work systematically
Goal > Plan > Action > Persistence > Success
This work is going to demand time and dedication.
Which brings me to number 15
It’s months, 15 months. It’s the amount of time I’m setting aside to focus all my attention on dealing with those inescapable truths..
I’m excited and I’m motivated. I’ve not felt such a strong calling to act since the idea of building a boat popped into my head in 2007. Is that coincidence? Back then I was 50, in a few weeks I’ll be 60. Is my subconscious lighting fires under me to keep me alive and kicking? Whatever it is I’m grateful. The alternative would be a slow death.
So this is what’s going to happen. ‘Gleda’ will be staying in or around Yacht Port Cartagena until April 2018.
For me Cartagena seems to be the perfect place to stop and work. On a practical level berthing costs are the same Summer and Winter and there’s good internet access. Everything we need is close at hand. Gail won’t be dying of boredom while I work. On a spiritual level it just feels right.
Artists, Artisans and Craftsman have lived and worked here for thousands of years. Much of what they created is still here. If I need some stimulation and inspiration I have only to walk a few minutes from the boat.
So starting January 2nd I’m taking 15 months to knuckle down and do some important work. I know I’m not going to solve all these problems in 15 months. Trying to do so would be just be setting myself up for failure. Any intermediary goals I set will be realistic and achievable. But my primary aim will be to build assets, create systems and identify opportunities that all move me closer to hitting those big goals. If I do the work success is guaranteed.
I’ll be ‘at my desk’ most days, I’ll post something every week telling you what I’ve done, what’s worked, what hasn’t, how I’m feeling.
It’s going to be a challenging journey but the destination makes it worth the effort.
I’ll need some help along the way so I’m going to ask a favour. Would you follow along and watch my back? I’ll be focused on the trail ahead and I don’t want fear and doubt jumping me. If you see them hiding in my words give me a shout. Cheers.
So right now I’m metaphorically screwing a shiny brass number 15 to a big red office door. From now on, when I refer to working at No15, you’ll know what I’ve been doing.
As an aside I stumbled across this the other day. I can’t say I believe in Numerology but equally I’ve no reason not to think there may be something in it. In numerology the number 15 is described as follows:
‘A message from your angels that your ideas and thoughts are prompting you to make some much needed changes in your life. Your angels are encouraging and guiding you to make positive life choices and are supporting you through these transitions. Angel Number 15 is also a message to use your initiative and personal tenacity when making choices that concern your own wellbeing and life path as only you know your true heart’s desires. You have the inner-wisdom, talents and abilities to achieve all that you strive to’
Strange eh? Was it coincidence that 15 came into my head?
Anyway I’ll be back before New Year to tell you a little more about what specific thoughts and ideas I have to get started with.
In the meantime I’ll leave you with this quote. It’ll be written on a sticky note above my desk at No.15. It’s a good thing way to live.