As many of you will know Mr Jones and myself have spent the last six months sailing a yacht up and down the Queensland coast. While I was alway I was asked by a friend to make a video explaining what I thought it meant to be alive as part of a project she was working on to celebrate the anniversary of a person very close to her. I was unsure of what to do but as I was sitting on the outer Barrier Reef watching the sunrise I made a completely off the cuff video. Sitting on a yacht rocking in the ocean after a bad night’s sleep I had a realisation that being alive was not all about joy and happiness. The anxiety and fear that made up a lot of my voyage was part of being alive. Here I was living in a way that many people never get the chance to. My environment was the ocean, the creatures that live in and on it. Everything was pure and a lot of the issues that take up so much of our emotional energy every day were background noise.
As my journey came to an end I was asked by many people “How are you going to cope with the real world?” I began to reject the idea that where they were was the real world. I became even more connected to sunrises and sunsets and habitually took the time to really see what I was surrounded by. Most people cannot comprehend this lifestyle. Many people imagined that I was experiencing what they experience on their two week resort vacation over an extended period of time. The reality, my reality, was very different. There was sunset drinks most days. They didn’t come with a fancy umbrella but rather in an ordinary insulated cup. We ate but it was food similar to every day home made food with no frills. In fact it was one of the best diets I have ever encountered. I lost 10 kilos while still having some chocolate and at least one drink every day. I never felt as if I was missing out.
There were a lot of times, especially in the beginning where I was anxious. Being away from the things that make up your every day life is like standing naked in front of a crowd. All of the creature comforts of every day life were stripped away and I was exposed in front of the ocean and nature. The ocean wasn’t always calm and stunning shades of blue. Sometimes it was grey and confused. The wind wasn’t always a gentle breeze. Sometimes it was strong and came thundering down valleys in gusts that pushed us around on our anchor. Sometimes we spent nights awake and fretting about being pushed onto a reef or some rocks. It was in these moments that, despite my fear, I became alive. Not happy and drugged with creature comforts and stimulation of the internet but living and feeling the real world.
I was introduced to the pop culture reference to “blue pill thinking” by Mike at Marriage Sex and More. Mike uses this term to refer to many male ideas about accepting a bad marriage as the way of the world and using this acceptance as an excuse to avoid taking responsibility for their situation and taking steps to change it but the wider idea of the ‘blue pill’ is about becoming immersed in these creature comforts and accepting the chains of employment and adult responsibilities of mortgages and acquiring stuff as a necessary part of life. Rejecting this thinking is part of the cruising life. To make this voyage I took unpaid leave from my job. I risked going back to work after everyone had been there without me for six months. We risked missing moments with our family but we were free. There was no employer or bank dictating where we went or what we did. All of the consequences of our choices were on us and we were free. Living in the red pill world.
In the past Mr Jones and I took three months to take our children in a caravan to some remote and very iconic parts of Australia. The journey required similar risks. Leaving our house and business in the hands of others, leaving jobs and living in a no frills way. We met many other families doing the same thing. What we all had in common was choices that we made that involved risk and going against the grain. After our return many of our friends were amazed by our journey and several of them expressed the desire to take on a similar journey “when the time is right”
For people like this often the time is never right. There is never a perfect time to undertake a journey. That is part of rejecting the blue pill. There are always people to leave behind, always a job or some financial commitment to fulfil. There is always the feeling that something that matters will be somehow incomplete or not right. Sure I could argue that leaving my job for six months left me exposed to someone undermining me. Leaving my eighteen year old daughter to fend for herself was irresponsible parenting. But these things are not insurmountable. The universe works how it works and when I am on my death bed the thing I will hold in my heart will be sunsets and connection to country, not a million mundane moments of getting ready for work and making dinner.
So what is real? That routine stuff, driving to work, dealing with traffic, paying bills. That is just white noise. Reality is the spinning of the Earth and watching the sun go down with a drink in your hand.