The trouble is, I've recently grown more aware of just how much that process holds me back. I'm not just talking about witticisms, quips, and flirtations here. This runs the whole gamut. Take Friday, for instance. Having just finished In the Heart of the Sea, a yarn about the wreck of the whale ship Essex, I started thinking about sailing again (like you do). The first thing in my head was my missed opportunity to circumnavigate the globe on the post-refit maiden voyage of the barque Picton Castle.
Now, it was this same internal censor that convinced me that selling all of my worldly possessions, cashing out any other assets I had accumulated, and then casting myself upon the mercy of the universe on an untested ship for a year's adventure was irresponsible, if not downright irrational. I stayed at home and passed up an adventure I'd still be telling stories about. Why? Because it was too far out of what was expected. This was perhaps the strongest pull towards something that was genuinely me, and I passed it up so I could keep my job as a bureaucrat. But that's not really what I wanted to talk about. Having that much trust in the universe/powers that be/whatever takes a supreme act of courage. That step was huge. What I'm thinking is much more subtle and insidious.
Over the past few years, I've been experimenting with new ways of thinking. One of the more useful involves understanding scale and scope. If your wildest dreams are out of reach, sometimes you can find experiences that can that will fill the void left or even bring you closer just a little closer to them. So here, I started thinking about the Picton Castle, but rather than getting overwhelmed with regret over that decision, I started to look into other ideas.
What about other tall ships? Most have pretty much the same level of financial and temporal commitment.
Schooners? There's some promise there, but it looks like they're mostly charters, and it's not clear that visitors get to crew. Plus, it feels like the cost becomes inflated simply because they're mostly historic ships and need historic maintenance.
How about more generic ocean sailing instruction? These are interesting. Ten day courses in "navigation" or "advanced sailing" that take place on a large vessel that travels to Nova Scotia or the US Virgin Islands. Courses seem to run about $1600 - $1800, which is steep but not outrageous for a two week vacation. It does look like I should have more experience before attempting something like it.
Coastal sailing courses? Sure thing. Affordable classes are available in Boston Harbor, but even before that...
Boston Community Sailing. $190 for the season, and I can learn how to handle small boats on the Charles River. It's a minuscule outlay that will at least satisfy some curiosity if not expose me to something I might love.
Here's where things got weird. I actually started getting depressed at the prospect because I didn't want to say I was thinking about another hobby. Cooking, brewing, cheese making, pottery, photography (not to mention the too-long neglected kung fu and bicycling)... In every case, I go through periods where they capture my imagination and sometimes I even produce good work, but I'm a long way from mastery in anything I do. I know that that has the potential to come with time and experience, but I really need to focus enough attention on something so that there's enough time for me to get the experience. Sometimes, it feels like I've got the attention-span of a ferret on speed, and you know, that's frustrating and often a little embarrassing.
I can turn that around in my head to realize that it's all part of the process, that even my in scattershot attempts I am doing precisely what I need to do to honor those parts of me that I've neglected. It's always been a struggle for me against convention and expectation and responsibility. Fear. The censor is fear internalized, and I don't want to be ruled by it any longer.