It’s been over a year since we packed up our home and made the leap to full time live aboard.
As I sit here trying to sort out my thoughts, I’m feeling overwhelmed. Where do I begin to put into words what we have learned? More importantly, where do I begin to describe how this experience has changed us?
In 11 days we pull up anchor and head back to the states. We have been living in the Bahamas for 4 months. We haven’t touched a dock (with the big boat) in four months. We haven’t driven a car in 4 months. There are many things we haven’t done, but it’s the things we have experienced that have made all the difference.
Taking a step away from your normal life gives you perspective. It forces you to reevaluate what you want from life and what you don’t want. Here are a few things we have come to realize.
- We love spending time together…all our time together. We have grown closer as a family and I have a deeper appreciation for my husband and kids. Since there are no agendas and nothing pulling us to go-go-go, we spend tons of time together.
- We really like being together as a family, just us. We’ve spent time with other boating families and our extended family and we truly enjoy spending time with them, but our favorite people are the four of us that sleep on this boat every night.
- We don’t miss TV and we definitely don’t miss being inundated with the news. It’s hard to explain the difference it makes in our moods. We realize how much TV and news change our attitudes toward each other and the world. We’re less cynical and more open to dreaming.
- We aren’t by consumerism. This isn’t a dig on anyone else, but when we are stateside we are constantly bombarded by ads telling us that we need to buy something new to be happy or fulfilled. It’s hard to not by influenced by those messages every day and start to think that I need to spend money to be happier.
- We are more mature in how we resolve arguments. We have plenty of time to work through conflict here. There’s nowhere to go and nothing to distract us, so stuff gets worked out in an adult manner. There’s no ignoring the problem or sweeping it under the rug.
- We don’t mind eating simple. Since groceries are crazy-expensive, we tend to eat sandwiches, ramen, toast, pasta, and other simple meals. And you know what, we’re perfectly happy about it.
- We fix broken things instead of replacing them. Since it’s almost impossible to find replacements for things here, if something breaks it’s got to be fixed. That’s one thing that we, as millennials, had a bad habit of doing in the states.
- We’ve learned new skills to fix things and make life work. Out here, there’s no such thing as calling a repairman or ordering pizza delivery. If something breaks, we learn how to fix it. If we need food, we learn how to make it. If we’re bored, we learn how to entertain ourselves. Learning to fend for ourselves has become second nature.
I think the biggest thing we’ve learned about ourselves is that we can be incredibly flexible. Routines are nice and they can be helpful when things get crazy, but we’ve found a capacity for flexibility that helps us to stay happy even when routines are thrown out the window.
I think that “skill” (being flexible as a family) is the reason for a lot of our happiness while dealing with adversity. When things break, we’re flexible. When the weather turns, we’re flexible. When we’re supremely bored, we’re flexible. When plans change, we’re flexible.
It’s not exactly the same, but there’s a passage in the Bible where the Apostle Paul talks about being content in any situation. Whether being wealthy or being poor, having abundance or having nothing, he was able to be content and happy. His faith in Jesus made that possible.
There are some things we’re looking forward to when we get back. Scott’s excited about Starbucks and Erica is excited about regular yoga sessions (with childcare!). We’re all looking forward to getting back to spending time with our church family again each week.
But as we’re getting things in order to make the cruise back in a couple weeks, we both deeply hope that we will be able to hold on to the best of the things we’ve discovered here. Not the beaches or the treasures found on them, but the time we’ve spent together and the lessons we’ve learned about ourselves.