Jet-Setting Can Suck It. I’m a Sea-Stroller.

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One would think I might be used to and/or love jet-setting with all my travel but I’m really not and don’t and neither does my immune system. These last couple weeks proved it as I have battled the worst jet lag of record and a lovely case of the flu. My hat’s off to those who truly are jet-setters and can handle going through numerous airports and cultural airport customs (like in China where there is no respected un-cuttable line). I just can’t anymore. I simply have lost my patience for air travel and the zoo that comes with it. I marvel at people who can endure the airplane pressure changes on the sinuses weekly and have built up immunity to the myriad of bacteria breathed throughout the cabin, whose inner clock learns to adjust quickly. (Do they? Is that a thing or did I just make that up?) This is a person bred through experience to travel through the space-time continuum, who defies the laws of physics, who are the real X-Men. They sit all Zen-like in their economy or business class seat in a suit, laptop open, working for that 10-hour flight on some presentation while the rest of us losers try to find a comfortable and ultimately unsuccessful awkward position to sleep in. These people are made of something else. These people are not me.

And I am happy to realize this! I am not the personality type that can be surrounded by the chaos of big cities, large crowds, or multiple airports for long without losing my shit and I don’t want to be either. It is a metaphor, simile, and direct freakin correlation to all aspects of my life. Thankfully the jet lag has begun to right itself, the flu is down to an annoying dry cough, and I wake up knowing now where I am.

It is good to be back in Amsterdam. I’m back to the boat life after a 4 month trip to the States to work in Alaska during our shipyard overhaul. As opposed to jet-setting, sailing has a bit more of a gradualness to it that works more with my mojo, sort of like strolling through the world as opposed to sprinting and I’m ok with that. It’s more my jam. There’s a charge at life that is a constant, almost stressful hum in big cities. I need this balance to stay sane with the quickening momentum.

Yacht life is busy in its own way, but it is also in stride, much like our ocean crossings. It takes planning and a journey across an ocean to signify the changing of summer to winter. And we must watch it and show respect to it or we suffer consequences. Seasons don’t just flip from one to another, rather as we head south, day by day, my crew mates and I look at each other and say, “Hey it’s a bit warmer today than yesterday, right?” The removal of the socks and the sweaters happens over a week, not a number of hours. We watch the change quicker than land folk as we pass by, experiencing them for a few days at a time until we sail by borders and latitudes into another, waving goodbye to winter. It feels a bit more like an appreciation of travel rather than the hurried and blurried look at it, BOOM! you’re in another country. There is time to reflect, to think about life, to work hard, and to see actual progress. It’s closer to “real life” than most people who’ve never done it realize. There is no jet-setting for us. We sea-stroll…………

It is my time at home that made me appreciate this because when I get home I appreciate the same things. I had a very encouraging and necessary time seeing friends, prioritizing alone time instead of cramming in a week of lunches and cocktails. I actually had time to play with the idea of what my future might be there. It was awesome to really get to walk around, see my favorite places, hike my old trails, sit with my friends and talk about life, travel through without a manic cadence.

It’s been 3 years since I left. Each time I’ve gone back I’ve looked around with my peripheral vision, hurriedly catching up with friends because if I really looked I was afraid I might see that I wanted to stay. I might see how much I really love it there and it wasn’t the right time. However, this time I realized that I am and it is a smart move financially as well as emotionally. The bonus; I can still continue this adventure at the same time. What an epiphany.

The adventure, in my opinion, isn’t really so much about the travel anyway though I still plan to do that. I believe it is about the mentality of the traveler. I have worked with plenty of yacht crew that travel from country to country and are content to go as far as the bar and then stumble back to the boat. Or I see the vacationer who flies all the way to the Caribbean to sit in an all-inclusive resort and have a dozen pictures taken of their Pina Coladas and never venture off to snorkel or go out dancing at one of the local reggae shows and meet the people that live in the city that defines every aspect of where they are. They would be the same back home too! Not all who travel are lost and not all travel to find themselves either.

I know this sounds nuts…but…I think a person can be an adventurer in their own backyard! When I was in Alaska, I couldn’t sit in the crew lodge watching movies every single day after work. Some people did and good on them! That’s their adventure. But to me, I need to spice it up now and again. Even if it meant a 6-hour hike up a mountain getting attacked by bugs and nearly falling off a rocky precipice, or joining some of the later night activities by a camp fire, playing guitar, knowing I had to be up in 4 hours. Sometimes it meant painting portraits in my room or taking the dog on a walk. I have those stories now and it was the best of the times I had there! There is a life and an adventure in all of us and the world is where we display that, not where we find it.

Having had the summer away from the boat and returning has shown me the real beauty of the opportunity I have. When you return to your boat home or land home and your reaction is the same,”Ahhhh, yes I’m back,” that’s a good and rare thing. That’s a good balance. I love being with my close friends WHEREVER they may be, eating and drinking well, being around animals, being out in nature. I also like the security and quiet of my home, a comfortable bed, a good sleep routine, having a haven. Add a little adventure once in a while and I’m pretty content. Simple. I realized…I have those in both my homes.

Having both worlds has helped me to be grateful on each side of the spectrum because I have found I love the same things in life regardless of whether it’s at home or on the boat. Maintaining that focus is the key, otherwise I risk my health and my joy. I miss out on all the little adventures that await me and the love that is available to me in that place and in that time instead of looking to some magical far away time and place to provide it. I also learn to appreciate all that awaits me where I have just left and await the day when I can return to it’s loving arms and return that love.

In essence…I think I might be growing up.

www.Flameandfish.com

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Sarah Gilbert

Sarah Gilbert

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