The old adage holds true: Timing is everything. I believe that even the right dream, or right person, or right place can be wrong if they come to you at the wrong time.
I read in my devotions this morning about Moses, who sensed early in his life God calling him to right the wrongs done against his people. So he acted rashly on righteous impulses and killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave. He then fled and spent forty years herding sheep in the desert. Was the calling wrong? Clearly not, as he eventually led a couple million people out of slavery. When the call came the second time, he had been humbled, and only when he felt unworthy was he truly ready.
It is true for us, too, I see now. Ten years ago, I got a glimpse of what a sailing life might entail and my heart was set aglow. Two years ago, Katie Rose, the boat we almost bought, sailed away, and with it, my dreams of living aboard. I was sure we had let our destiny float off without us. We obviously weren’t ready. When Jay came home last December and said, “I found the boat,” he caught me off-guard. When we decided to do it, I was petrified. But the timing was right.
We’ve been dockside for four months. We were fixing, learning, acclimating. And only now has the time come to begin doing the thing of which we’ve been dreaming. It’s our time for firsts: first sail out of the Manatee River, first reefing in strong wind, first time dropping the anchor, first night “on the hook”, first leaps off the bow and swims through “the tunnel,” first expedition to an island, first edible fish caught. It’s just like I thought it was going to be. The kids are loving it, and Jay and I are still sitting on a moonlit deck after they go to bed incredulous that we actually did it. I admit to feeling impatient sometimes, but I now see the wisdom in waiting, in going slowly and taking it one step at a time.
In a larger sense, the timing is right, too: many of the people who live their dreams of cruising do so after raising a family, after successful careers, after most of their time and energy have been poured into a land-life. The people who sailed away on Katie Rose were old and pudgy. Although that sounds critical, I myself will be old and pudgy before too long and that is exactly my point. In some ways it’s harder to do this now, to take a risk when we have small children, when our income goes mostly toward house payments and grocery bills. But in many ways it is easier: presumably we have a lot of time and energy left, the children will benefit from a simpler, more adventurous life, and we are young enough that we still feel almost invincible but not so young that we don’t recognize and try to avoid danger. And with times being uncertain, learning to live more self-sufficiently doesn’t sound so bad, either.
I think I understand just a bit of what Moses felt when he heard the call. When I first stepped aboard Katie Rose, I heard a quiet voice saying, “this is your future home.” It was almost audible—my heart was pounding and I felt a little clammy. But my immediate response was, “No way!” Since we didn’t end up living aboard that particular boat, did I miss or misunderstand the call? I think not; I just wasn’t ready. Am I now? Are we humbled enough by the daunting task ahead of us to be truly ready? All we have are a dream, a boat, a willingness to work, and a belief that Someone bigger than us has a bigger plan.
I close with the second stanza of a favorite poem, Sea Fever by John Masefield:
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.