Walking barefoot down a desolite beach in Costa Rica golden sand squished between my toes as the morning light warmed my body. It had been nearly 6 months since I had traded my sandals for a machete, it was a good trade. Everything I owned in the world fit in a tiny pack on my back. I was free both mentally and physically but it didn’t start out that way.
I was petrified when I landed in San Jose, alone in a foreign place where I didn’t speak the language. I nearly suffocated that first night in my one man tent, hot and humid, raining harder than I knew was possible. Bugs, I didn’t know so many could exist, some larger than my hand, I didn’t get any sleep that night or for many after. I was an alien in a foreign land, my pack heavy and cumbersome pulled my aching shoulders, the blistering hot sun cooked my pale skin, more than anything I wanted to quit, to fly home and sleep in a real bed, eat food I recognized and have real conversations with people I understood.
From day one I started jettisoning things from my pack that previously was sure I couldn’t live without. It was a good 2 weeks before almost everything had been bartered or given away including the pack. As my load lighted so did my mind and spirit. I was no longer afraid of being robbed, or getting lost, or drinking the water. I started to understand the language and culture, I was no longer a tourist. Somewhere down that long lonely stretch of beach I had become a wanderer, at home in my enviornment and as comfortable in my skin as I was in my bare feet.
Late last night I crawled into our v-berth trying not to wake Emily. I’m still getting used to how deeply she sleeps these days, it wasn’t always this way. It has taken a solid 10 months for her to get comfortable on this little boat. Her insomnia was making us both crazy, something you really want to avoid in such a small place during the long dark months of winter.
No longer is she afraid of our stove, or things that go bump in the night. She is all settled in and found a place for each and every thing she possesses. To fit aboard she has had to become a mnimalist but now her scant few possessions fit her life like a glove, she has all the necessities from her little string bikini to full expedition weight warmies and crappy but water proof foulies. From day one I knew she could make that transition but there were many days and nights I think she was ready to throw in the towel.
Sharing our morning coffee with a good friend she is where Emily was a year ago, her boat is huge, but size has nothing to do with it. Her growing pains are no different than mine were, or Emilys or anybody’s for that matter. Change is a good thing but scary for all humans. We all have different visions of what an adventure is but regardless of the size of the challenge it will never be met unless we are willing to suffer through the tiny space in our mind that tells us we can’t do it. I don’t remember the challenge of learning to tie my shoes or ride a bike or drive a car, they are all as natural to me as breathing. When I find myself in a situation well beyond my comfort zone I take deep breath, scream at the top of my lungs and ride that wave for everything it is worth.
I thought that I was retired for the third time in my life but it seems that I am not. I have found a new challange, it scares me and is as daunting as climbing Mount Everest. My mind tries to play tricks on me, to tell me I can’t do it. Its too difficult, there is too much competition, I don’t have what it takes…
Every-time my mind tries to take over I smile and chuckle to myself, this isn’t my first rodeo.