We hopped onboard a sailing vessel one weekend. It was a boat we knew from before – an old, unique sailboat that was first used for sailboat racing, then turned into a vessel that was the home for a couple that sailed around the world three times during a time period of twenty years. Now the boat is owned by the nephew of that couple, whom we had learned to know through our common interest in films and photography.
It was nice to be back on that boat. We didn’t put too much pressure on the sailing part and enjoyed life instead, staying in harbor when it rained and taking long mornings if we felt like it. On the second morning, which unfortunately was our last morning (this only being a weekend trip) I felt a satisfying sensation while brushing my teeth on the island we had stayed that night.
A thought came along with that satisfaction: I could do this for a longer time.
Fight Or Flight – But What Does It Mean?
Lately, I’ve been feeling restless. As if I’m waiting for something to happen, waiting that time when I’m able to take the next step, move on to the next phase. I feel unsatisfied with what I have and think that there has to be more to this life, there has to be a place or a way of life that won’t leave me feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. And it isn’t the first time I’m feeling like this. It’s a feeling that reaches me regularly – and it isn’t really a nice feeling.
I haven’t figured out yet what it means exactly. I do know it means I’m not satisfied with what I have at the moment – but what I don’t know is if I’m reacting to the feeling in the right way? Up until now, my solution has often been moving from one city to another or making changes in career plans. But it feels like I’m escaping rather than taking the action that is needed.
It’s like the classic situation of fight or flight. I know how the flight part goes – but what about the fight? How do I fight these feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction and how do I overcome them?
Usually these feelings disappear for a few months after I’ve moved to a new city or when I start a new job or continue my studies after some sort of break, i.e. after a change. But they always come back, suggesting a change: move to another apartment, quit this and start that, change this.
And I wonder, for how long can I manage this feeling of restlessness? When will I finally find what my gut feeling is looking for? When will I find something that keeps the uneasy feelings away for good?
The Search For Alternatives
So, as I was washing my teeth on that island and the rays of early sun reaching towards me through the pine forest, I thought how wonderful it would be to wake up in a new place every few weeks, look at a map and consider the alternatives for the day. Check the wind and weather forecast and adjust my plans according to the observations.
My days would go by sailing and maintaining the boat, cooking food, being creative, discovering things and always pushing myself outside my own comfort zone. Because sailing would be just that – always adjusting, always trying to find new creative or better ways to do things and see something that is so different from what I’ve experienced for the past 24 years.
A camper van could have the same effect, so I might consider it as an alternative as well. But after a few road trips I’d still have to say that nothing beats the fascinating physics of sailing, the gentle rocking of a vessel on anchor and, if the weather’s warm, taking a morning swim in the sea from your backyard (that is, the cockpit).
I have enjoyed my thoughts on full-time sailing for the past few weeks, letting them take over the realities of life for now. But I’m aware that buying a boat isn’t an alternative at the moment, neither is a camper van.
Instead, I’m in the final year of my Master’s Degree, determined to finish my studies. The thesis-writing will begin the next week. After that my plans will be more open for other alternatives. Which means I’ll keep on floating on those gentle waves of dreams, but trying to keep the balance with the things that are in my power at the moment.
One question remains – how to keep myself going until that day of graduation comes and I can start figuring out the next step? How to keep those feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction at bay, and what are the things I can do right now to keep calm and focus on what’s important at the moment?
The only thing that comes to my mind is that I need to keep on writing. Holding on to the hours that I can write fiction or blog posts, and in that way keep the dream alive while focusing on something else for a moment. After all, nine months (the time I’ve planned to dedicate for my thesis) is only a short period of time in the life of a human being.