So I’ve put my resignation in at my job – no my career – of almost 27 years. We’re taking a year to do some temporary retirement. It’s amazing how difficult this is, since our identities get so tied up in our work. Our employers are our security, not only for money but also our healthcare, retirement. Our daily, weekly and monthly rhythms are tied up in work. Wake up at 6am, get to work by 8, Monday through Friday, usually sit in the same place, see the same people. It’s a little break from our home office, or maybe just some time to do our own thing. It feels a lot like a divorce, but it’s also a relief to take some time off and not be accountable to the people or the tasks or the deadlines. I already feel broke.
Anyhow, we’re going to take our Gulfstar 36 trawler on the Great Loop, starting in October! It’s a 6000 mile journey around the eastern part of the United States. South from Tennessee on the Tenn-Tom waterway, follow the Florida coast through the Keys. We’ll turn north and head up the east coast all the way to New York, Hudson River, canal system to Lake Ontario. We’ll cross to Canada and head west on the Trent Severn canal system. We’ll arrive in Georgian Bay, north channel to Mackinaw. Southbound from there, we’ll follow the Michigan coastline to Chicago. Back on the inland rivers, we’ll be heading southbound until we’re eventually back in Tennessee.
Why the heck would I want to give up my career and do something that sounds so crazy? I’ve been asking myself that, more now that I’ve committed than ever. Here are a few reasons:
I was diagnosed with Stage 1 melanoma for the THIRD time this spring. I’ve been cut on at least six times, and biopsied at least 10 times. I’ve had a SLNB – the removal of lymph nodes to see if it spread. It hasn’t thank goodness. So far if I had to have deadly skin cancer this is the kind to have. Castle genetic testing of my cancer shows it’s the lowest aggression.
I’ll celebrate my 53rd time around the sun this September. My dad early retired from his career at 56, and he was dead before he was 58. He had a long list of things he wanted to do. This is my big one.
I’m not getting any younger. I first injured my back about 6 years ago, and it’s really ached ever since. My knee hurts sometimes. My neck hurts. I have things go wrong. If I’m going to do something big and physically demanding, it’s time to do it.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, we all should spend time seeking delight. I was stuck in traffic on the way home the other day (my commute takes usually an hour). I was listening to the podcast “This American Life” and the guest was Ross Gay who wrote a book called “The Book of Delights: Essays”. It’s really just about finding delight in things, and seeking delight. After listening to that episode, it really explains all the “crazy” things I’ve done – riding across states on my bicycle, canoeing through the Boundary Waters in Minnessota, hiking, photography, flying kites. These things all shower us with opportunities to experience delight. I believe the Great Loop will put us on overdose.
Find delight. It’s easy to forget how to look for it, and take time. Smell those flowers. Feel the warm sun. Breathe the fresh air.
I’ll come back and explain some of our planning, our cruising philosophy, boat details, how we’re managing our house and pets, in a future post. This is enough for now.