Today is the six-months-to-go-until-we-set-sail-into-the-vast-unknown-called-the-Pacific-Ocean mark. (We might have to come up with a shorter name for that.) It’s hard to believe it’s already March. Or, more accurately, it’s hard to believe Brian and I are already staring the six-month mark in the eyes.
I have to admit… There are days when I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Some days are easy and I can’t wait to get out there and explore our world more intimately. But on other days I’d rather just hide under the covers and try not to think about it. This usually happens when the wind is blowing like stink, the boat is rocking even while tied up to the dock, and I’m having one of those days where I feel I can’t do anything right. I find myself yearning for a life in a sturdy, warm house with a fireplace, unlimited hot water, and a nice big bathtub…
To help myself move past the angst, I like to look for inspiration in the blogs of others who have completed a similar trip. But after reading entries about beautiful beaches, serene winds, and juicy mangoes, I begin to wonder how much they’re not telling me. Do they have bad days, too, even in the middle of paradise? Do they reminisce about life back home while snorkeling in Mexico? Or imagine the mango they’re eating in Tahiti is a pepperoni pizza?
I guess one of the lures of this journey is the unknown… The fact that we won’t know how we feel until we’re out there. But I have been thinking a lot about unknowns these days.
Back in January, Brian and I spent a few days in Big Sur, CA, to celebrate the New Year. Before the trip, we’d been looking forward to hiking through the Redwood forest and spending time on rocky bluffs overlooking the ocean. But Big Sur suffered a massive fire in 2006 and, unfortunately, most of the trails in that area are still closed.
Not to be undone, we asked the hotel manager if he had any suggestions for a trail that we might enjoy. Without hesitation, he suggested the Soberanes Canyon Trail, a “nice hike” just a few miles north on HWY 1. After a gorgeous 30-minute drive up the coast, we were at the trailhead. And after more than two hours meandering through dense forest we came to the end of the “nice” part of the trail and looked up at what awaited us—a steep climb up the side of a sun-drenched mountain. Prepared only for a short day-hike, we were wearing tennis shoes, had already finished half the water in our liter bottle, and didn’t have any food on us. We had to decide to keep going, or turn around and head back to the car.
We didn’t know what awaited us on the other side of the mountain or how much further we had to walk to make it back to the car. But for varying reasons, we both decided to keep going. Something deep inside of us propelled our hot, sweaty and thirsty bodies up the 30% grade. About every other second I wondered why we hadn’t turned around, but between those thoughts I was awestruck by the panoramic beauty on all sides of me, and my own determination to finish what I’d started. When we got to the top, I felt a rush of adrenaline so profuse that I became covered in goose bumps (and, no, it wasn’t heatstroke, although that did cross my mind).
The view was worth the effort and the pain. And at the top of that mountain, no one could deny us our achievement or our time to reflect and admire what we’d just accomplished. After a few minutes of soaking-in the vista and catching our breath, we started down the mountain—a path no less challenging than the one we’d just scaled. But, in my mind, the hard part was over. We’d set forth into the unknown and we’d been successful.
I suppose that’s how most of the authors feel when they write the blog entries I read. After journeying across an unknown stretch of ocean, battling against doubt and exhaustion, and finally dropping their anchor in a new bay, they want to enjoy the beauty of how far they’ve come. It’s hard to feel lonely when the whole world is at your fingertips, and it’s hard not to enjoy the taste of that mango in the South Pacific when you’ve travelled so far to eat it. They conquered their doubts, they arrived, and now all they can see and taste is the bounty of their success.