Going Mental

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How do you mentally prepare for an expedition? That’s what I’ve been asking myself lately. I keep ruminating on a quote from Steinbeck’s Log of the Sea of Cortez.

“How does one organize an expedition: what equipment is taken, what sources read, what are the little dangers and the large ones? No one has ever written this. The information is not available. The design is simple, as simple as the design of a well-written book. Your expedition will be enclosed in the physical framework of start, direction, ports of call, and return. These you can forecast with some accuracy…”

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It’s about two weeks from launch date. The goods are gathered, the charts assembled, the boat is ready. But the mind? The mind is on a see-saw. On one end is excitement about the possibilities; on other is a twisted knot pondering of those unknown dangers.

The excitement is for the pure joy of unbridled freedom to do what I want for weeks on end. I’m looking forward to just going and going wherever I want for as long as I want. And conversely, doing nothing when I want.

Then there’s the wildlife. I want to see whales and otter and the myriad sea creatures I used to know so well. So strange and intricate, so elegant and efficient. So different than my normal life.

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But the knot, the fear is real. For the last few months I haven’t been sleeping much. I didn’t lay awake at night thinking of loose ends at home or work. I didn’t think too much about tidal rapids or getting lost in dense fog, though the unknown must subconsciously weigh in hidden places deep in my mind. But I did wonder, will I get bored of myself? Will the art I hope to make along the way flow with joy and wonder, or will I be tossing crumpled paper balls over the gunwale?

Overall though, I most looking forward to being in one place, doing one thing, and getting it done well, without distraction, without the fear of missing out or forgetting some obligation. When I can sit for a whole day without making a to do list or worrying about what I have to do tomorrow, that’s when I’ll be prepared.


  1. I know what you are talking about. You can tell your mind that once you hop in the boat and push off, all will be well (and it will!), your mind just keep on thinking.

    One of the best things about sailing for multiple days is forgetting what day it is. Sure, you might have to know to keep track of the tide tables, but it doesn’t matter a whit that it is “wednesday” as opposed to “saturday”.

    Enjoy what enfolds!

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