A week from tomorrow we will embark on a three and a half week sailboat journey from Juneau, Alaska to Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, Canada. I’m hoping that mom (in featured photo) was right when she once said, “Sailing is in your blood.”
My parents owned a sailboat for several years before I was born, but after my dad died when I was a baby, she sold the boat. I never sailed again until I was an adult, and then only a few times before my first real sailing trip with Ben, September, 2011.
Did mom think I had salt in my veins because they owned a sailboat and loved to sail? Or, did she know my great great grandfather Porter refurbished sailboats? Or, was it the Goudey sea captains, those great great great uncles twice removed who conferred upon me the salty blood?
This journey, however, is requiring more from me than salty blood. I’m not as physically fit as I had hoped I would be. After three surgeries this year, and the latest April 17 to remove two screws from my heel, I injured a tendon or ligament last week in a place that heretofore was without pain. I’m back in a walking boot and on crutches. The podiatrist may take notice when I walk into her office tomorrow morning for the check-up. Last week’s frantic phone call only garnered a “that’s normal.”
Yesterday I told Ben I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get on and off the boat. That’s not very normal. But hey, didn’t some of those seafaring folk have peg legs? Oh, I remember, those guys were pirates. But still…
Five minutes later I said, “I’m going on the trip even if you have to carry me on to the boat.” He smiled.
It’s not as if I’m being asked to hike a mountain, holding up other hikers on the trail. I can drive the boat, clean the latrine, and cook the dinner. Not all at once, of course. I can write and read and play games and think and talk and take photos and document the trip. And best of all, I will see some of the most spectacular scenery in North America.
I tell myself that once I get on the boat, I only have to walk 25 feet — bathroom, bedroom on one end, living space and kitchen in the middle and then the cockpit.
It’s doable. It’s a way to travel a long way and see lots of stuff without having to walk very far.
Over dinner a few nights ago for our seventh anniversary, Ben said, I think this will be a pleasurable trip for you.
Considering how long we’ve planned it, how long I’ve looked forward to it (it’s been on my bucket list for years), how much we are paying for it, how much others have heard about it, and how much I’ve tried to prepare for it, he better be right.
This morning a friend wrote to me and said, Your trip is going to work out, yes, I feel it! You will get away from it all, go north, feel the wind blow it all away. It’s going to be wonderful.
Whether or not I’m in shape, a lot of people travel with all sorts of infirmities. Perhaps it’s a pride thing — walking to the boat on crutches or with a pronounced limp, being in pain, not being the once hardy hiker, the enthusiastic walker, the happy gardener that I once was.
Life changes in an instant. In my instant, it was a slight twist of the ankle on a curb. For others it’s a tornado. My slight twist of the ankle changed my life, but it didn’t take it. It’s a matter of finding a new way of being and appreciating what I still can do. And I can be a salty sailor.
Just in case, as a reminder, I’ll take along an essential oil called Valor.
Valor means “strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness : personal bravery.”
What valor means to each person will be different. For me, climbing on to a sailboat in pain and unable to walk normally will require personal bravery, (it’s a long trip over lots of water with three people I don’t know in close quarters who may nor may not appreciate the fact that I’m not a complete deckhand), but a surrender to who I once was, embracing who I am now, allowing for healing in the middle.