The world hasn’t ended

First of all, with respect to all of Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, please stop referring to the United States as “America.” There are many countries in this continent who have completely different values and views on life and it’s quite egoistic to refer to ourselves as American with the sentiment that the other parts of the continent don’t exist. Especially as they seem to be more humane and educated than many US citizens. 

Sadly, the majority of the United States has strengthened my resolve for not wanting to live in that country. I can’t believe that more than half the country wanted a president who is a racist, sexist, angry, childish, fearful and greedy sex offender. People say that the US is a melting pot which accepts all types of people and offers opportunity for all. Sadly this is a misconception which has been untrue for many years and this just proves it. 

I could write my thoughts about the fears I have and what kind of person I think Donald Trump is and maybe even what I think will happen to the country, but to be honest, that would only place me in the same category as Trump.

The truth is, we don’t know what will happen. Disaster could happen or it may not. All this prognostic talk makes me cringe. Very few people can see into the future and those who can, are not the ones giving the prognosis. Many politicians lie and say things to get their position. Hell, people in general do that to get jobs. “Slight exaggerations” to make oneself look like a better job applicant. Not all Republicans in the House think like Trump and laws have to go through many people before they become law. So let’s just slow down and take a deep breath. 

Let’s stop bashing the kind of man Trump is because behind all of these horrible qualities he displays to the public, he is just a scared little boy who needs power, money and sex to mask his fear. We all have coping mechanisms to survive. Some more effective than others, but who says we have the right to judge who copes better? Life is a game of survival. 

Let’s not fuel his fire or his ego, for he likes when people talk about him, positively or negatively. Let’s try to look at the bright side. Those who voted against Trump can still make a stand. They can continue to be open minded, generous and welcoming individuals. Maybe now is the time to be more active and vocal about demonstrating an acceptance of differences. 

I used to work with the sweetest little boy with autism, who is now an adult. I found out he is afraid of what it means for “people like him.” Let’s not let lost souls like Trump allow people in the minority to live in fear for their wellbeing. Let this be an opportunity to reach out to those in need, comfort those who are struggling and re-establish a sense of community in a country that used to pride itself in just that. Trump may have won the presidency, but US citizens can still win the hearts of world citizens by proving we aren’t all like him. 

Let’s remember Trump’s famous words, “Make America great again.” He’s right, we can make the US great again, just in a different way than he thinks. 


What’s the rush? Slow down 

It all started with a passenger telling me that golf was losing followers because it’s a boring and slow sport. Apparently biking, in particular mountain biking, is the new rage based on it’s speed and fast pace. I felt a little sad by this. As a society, when did we get too impatient with things?

This particular passenger was very high strung and just a few months ago would’ve driven me to fantasies of one of us going overboard. However, as of late I have been devoting most of my time to self-improvement and reflection and therefore took an interest in this passenger. A man who I’m sure irritates a lot of people and probably gets a lot of bad reactions. I’ve found a new soft spot for these sweetly grumpy lost souls, probably because I’ve gained more insight into myself. 

Anyway, he talked of his business which involves golf and very rich people who don’t allow for errors. This in turn causes significant stress in his life. He asked about wifi and I saw the panic disappear in his eyes when I said no we didn’t have it, but I would happily let him use my data package as I would never use it all. His endless and repeated questions about timing, schedules, the weather the “norm” with sailing and all the possible safety aspects of the boat were calmly answered as many times as he needed to hear it. He was always a bit stumped when I said there was absolutely no norm with how the weather and timing was on the crossing. He was so involved in schedules this other way of life seemed like a different world. I hope his silence meant he was contemplating other perspectives on how to live. 

He was scared. He felt safe enough to admit that so I’m not just making an analysis. He was scared of the movement and sound of the boat and of the vastness of the open sea. Hour by hour in the calm bits, he would become more brave and make longer appearances in the cockpit. Always with endless questions, but I smiled inside knowing that he was getting braver.

How does this relate to slowing down? Well, sometimes we are so afraid of what might happen (which is more than likely not going to happen), that we miss the unique blue of the open sea, the way the plankton lights up the sea at night or the kind smile from a stranger or friend. The modern day is too fast. Immediate results are the norm and when they don’t happen, frustration and impatience immediately appear. Remember the days of dial up Internet?? That’s not even accepted in “third world” countries these days (for “first worlders” anyway)! 

When I travelled, my favourite thing to do was go to bus stations early and wait. People thought I was crazy. Sometimes I was there for four or five hours and you know what? It seemed like an hour at most. I had no schedule, no deadline, no one to answer to and no pressure, so why not? It was a beautiful way to observe what communities are like. It was also the time when I had the best conversations with locals. I didn’t read, I didn’t tap my foot and look at my watch, I just enjoyed the moment and it was always eye opening. 

This is precisely one of the reasons why I love being at sea. There is no outside communication with anyone, there is no schedule to arrive because what’s the point? It would always be broken! I am at mercy to the waves, wind and sea. I am forced to slow down and enjoy the moment. Watching the movement of the waves, observing any birds that might be flying around, watching the flying fish, patiently waiting for the dolphins to arrive, observing the night sky, giving my full attention to the conversation I’m having or the book I’m reading. It’s truly a gift to be given so much time to be in the moment and not have any distraction to take me out of it. 

As a result, I look healthier, younger and happier. I have patience for those who have yet to find this path of stillness in life, or who may never find it. I feel more at peace and I’m starting to forget what I call “pointless stress” feels like. The kind of stress that is brought about by pressure that we ourselves bring to this life because of technology and a fast paced way of life. 

Slow down. Find your open sea. Maybe it’s in a forest, a desert, the jungle, country fields, a river or the look in your child’s eyes. Just find it and enjoy the moment. Then take that feeling and bring it to the rest of your life. When I’m at sea, I’m utterly and completely vulnerable. I have so little control. I am at mercy to the boat, the wind, the waves, the weather, debris in the water and big cargo ships. One little thing can go wrong and that’s it, life is over. I don’t let it scare me, I simply appreciate the value of my life on and off the sea, each moment, that much more. Maybe it makes me a “slow” person living on the outside of a fast paced life I no longer have a desire to live in. And never have I been more satisfied with life or more grateful to be alive. 

Contemplating what it really means to be wealthy

The wind was whistling around the sails and the rigging, the waves were softly splashing away from the boat as we moved through the deserted open sea. Night had just fallen and as I looked up, I saw the beautiful sparkling of the first stars lighting the night. I was lovingly wrapped in Captain Cool’s arms as he softly snored his way into his rest shift. I thought to myself, “What a beautiful moment! There is no one else I would rather be sharing this beautiful moment with.”

We had been sailing into the wind for 20 hours, so I relished the moment we could turn the engine off and I could be at peace with nature. We had a great day. A family of about 10-15 dolphins came to play alongside the boat, it was a cool cloudy day which was a welcomed break from the intense sun, heat and humidity of Cartagena. A little bird had come to ride with us, first sat on the dinghy and then just above CC’s head on the Bimini. She allowed me to observe her from up close as she rested from a long flight in the open sea. 

We have autopilot again (woo hoo!!!) and it’s an intelligent one so when we hit a squall, we could stay in shelter instead of taking turns shivering behind the helm. We hugged each other tight as we watched the impressive light storm happening all around us. We gave gratitude to the autopilot and took refuge inside for a bit. 

When CC was sleeping, I was able to play with the sails. Without the autopilot, I was a slave to the helm and was unable to take my time experimenting with the sails. I spent a whole hour opening, closing and adjusting them so I could observe what our speed was doing. With the speedometer, I could easily see what changes would create what outcome. Don’t get me wrong, I do this on paper charts, but after spending 2-3 hours behind the helm, knowing I have to do it again in 2-3 hours, the last thing I wanted to do was go inside and spend a lot of time being a slave to the charts. Especially when it’s raining and hot and humid in the salon! The autopilot gives us the freedom to move around and do what we please.

As I was lying in this perfect moment thinking about the beautiful day we had with Mother Nature, I felt so much gratitude and so much peace. This is what life is about. It’s not about stressing ourselves out to make money, have a big fancy house, car, extravagant holidays, social status, etc. It’s about enjoying the present moment with the present company. After all, that’s all we have. You can spend a lifetime working for your retirement only to die from health problems related to stress from working so hard for the future you’re never going to enjoy. Or you can stop and think about what’s important right now and live an enjoyable life.

When I lived in London, I started waking up every day hating the day I was going to have. I lost all meaning in my life and became empty. I started living in a dream world because the present moment was so unpleasant. I knew something had to change because we only get one life and I was sure it wasn’t meant to be lived like that. 

I made a drastic change and now I know it was right. It’s beautiful days like today, which I have so many of, that make life worth living. Not having material possessions, social status or money. I may be absolutely broke, but I’m still one of the richest people in the world.