Sunday, February 3, 2008

Shiriri Saga #1 A new direction.

Heather and I were nearing the end of a hostelling / backpacking holiday in Britain. We stood on a high Devonshire ridge overlooking the ocean. As we watched the sun set over the Irish Sea we were feeling a little sad, a little desperate, as our month long adventure wound down to its last few days. That brave decision that had lead to my leaving my teaching career years before and to our independent life on our Gulf Island was, in my fiftieth year, showing a few cracks. Since my Park Ranger job had disappeared with privatization, I was now working on contract as a youth and family Counselor. It was important work that I did well and which gave me a lot of insight, but it was intermittent, with poor pay and only occasional job satisfaction. At my age, in the limited job market on our little island, future prospects for an exciting life were dim and getting dimmer.

Below us was a harbour filled with fishing boats and small yachts. Like us, they were high and dry at low tide, but as we looked up and down the coast we could see interesting river mouths and other historied towns we would have loved to have had the time and money to explore. Even hostelling was too expensive for us in the long term and constant train and bus travel was well beyond our means. I think it occurred to us both at the same time, " If we had a boat we could live on board, we could travel as we please, row our dinghy up those rivers, resupply in those little towns, hike the hills and when winter comes we could move south, maybe by canal to the Mediterranean or sail to the Canary Islands."We skipped back to our separate hostel beds with our hearts uplifted and our minds abuzz with new possibilities.

What made this more than a mere pipe dream were the resources of our past experience. When still in our thirties, we had left teaching to pursue a dream of self sufficiency. We now had the experience and the skills to live inexpensively, to make what we needed, be it a boat or a house and, with our youthful volunteer teaching experience in South America behind us, to confidently begin a venture into new lands and peoples. Most importantly perhaps, we had hand-built our house and log cabin without a mortgage. Now, by renting out our property, we could have an income without being tied to a job. We had already done something similar once before when one winter we had a catamaran built for us and rented out our house. We then trailered our boat and family to Florida, sailed across to the Bahamas and spent several months camping on board and cruising among the islands with our children. We then towed our boat "Amazon" to the west coast of Mexico for a brief adventure in the Sea of Cortez and then back home to spring and my seasonal Ranger job.

Our children were now grown and independent, we were already amateur sailors, and big plans interested us and gave vitality to our lives. The problem of not having a well paying job was now, from a new perspective, our passport to freedom. We arrived home bursting to get started.

"When the way comes to an end, then change, - having changed, you will pass through."
I Ching.

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