Fears and Dilemmas

I may be playing a little “he said, she said” here, but I just read Jay’s post about future plans (see "Go South?") and was simultaneously writing my own post.

My greatest fear at the moment is not shipwreck or shark attack. Ironically, all my fears before going cruising have turned out to be silly, and the things I thought were trivial have turned out to be important. Connecting with people has turned out to be a big one. I never realized how much a place is about the people and not the geography. What if we don’t make  any friends here? (And why are most cruisers middle-aged—having grown children or none at all?) I knew I would miss friends and family, but didn’t know how much, especially when there is some kind of crisis going on at “home.” What if something happens while we’re away and I can’t be there when I need to be? The big one, though, is about going backwards. We’ve made so much progress in so many areas. We see the children’s growing sense of responsibility, the closeness of our family as we go exploring together, and our own expanding competence and confidence. Plus, we've covered a lot of miles. What if we allow the birth of this baby to ground us, and we never make it back out here?

These “what ifs” have answers. Usually they never come to pass. Of course we’ll make friends; we always do. We just have to commit to sticking around long enough to do so (as Jay already said). The second fear is a very real one, as we do have family members in crisis, and I can’t be there to help. It’s very frustrating. There are other family members who can pick up the slack, and I can do some very important “prayerful work” as my friend Betty used to say. But I have to choose. Saying “yes” to one thing always means saying “no” to a thousand others. We are following a dream, and that costs something. Nobody said it would be easy.

The last fear, and most often on my mind these days, is that if we go back to Florida, we may never leave again. Life has a way of sticking it to you, and we barely escaped last time. How can one ever be truly ready to leave on an open-ended voyage? And how much more difficult can that be with a baby in tow? But it we’re already out here and add a new crew member, we’ll be forced to adjust. Ironically, I am not really afraid of having a baby in a foreign country without friends or family present. I probably should be, but I’m not. Maybe as delivery draws near and I have to figure out the logistics, that will hit home, but maybe not.

The truth is, we’ve been so busy basking in the success of buying the boat, living on the boat and actually cruising (not to mention getting used to the idea of a new baby) that we haven’t thought much about the big picture in a long time. We used to talk about sailing around the world, but that was back when this whole boat thing was a pipe dream. Now we’re just happy to be out here, but adding a crew member adds urgency to our future planning. We have a dilemma: go back where it’s comfortable and we have a support network, where we speak the language and can find anything we want in stores, and risk getting stuck; or travel indefinitely, have a baby on the go, and possibly do great things we might not otherwise do.

Fears are not easily dismissed. I manage to get a good night’s sleep because I refuse to worry—allowing God to take my days’ worries and giving Him tomorrow’s as well. Only He knows all the answers, anyway. But fear has a way of nagging when you least expect it. The dilemma we face is one we will pray about, think about, talk about—and write about—for some time to come. Who knows how it will turn out? Like many what-ifs, time usually reveals the answer. In the meantime, peace comes in daily doses, and that’s something for which I am grateful.