Silver Linings


Summer last year my dreams came true. Work took me on the holiday of a lifetime, a holiday I had wished for since my days living in Monaco well over a decade ago. Back then I used to walk around the port admiring the beautiful yachts and super yachts, dreaming that one day I might step aboard the largest of them all. It had a helicopter pad. It was double the size of almost any other there. It was grand. Majestic. One day this dream manifested into reality. The job I was seeking featured regular trips including full summers on their super yacht. Helipad, grandeur, bigger than even the one I had longed for. I got the job. And last summer, I stepped into my dream.

img_0391After seven years of hardship and sacrifice, travels limited to work trips and small adventures on micro budgets, my job was in many ways, like coming up for air. Like living a dream. I started with a month in New York. I relocated to the Middle East. Within weeks I was in Europe – twice – and the second trip I set foot on this boat. As much as the everyday work proved a distraction time and again, one look out the window or off the deck at a golden red sunset or the eternity of blue sky entwining with deeper blue sea was enough to feel blessed for the fortune I was living.

I wrote about it on Facebook after one particular harrowing day where I felt the full force of the sea surface in a terrible accident. Mildly injured, I still felt grateful, still found the silver linings. It was probably the first time in my minimalist journey that I was able to think that way. Although since then I regularly seek out silver linings and gratitude amongst my tough work schedule, or ways to live more meaningfully than within the consumerist trap, nothing quite matches that first experience of rising above what I could have viewed with negativity and ‘look what happened to me’ self-indulgent pity. Here is an edited version of that Facebook story.

Overall this is the summer holiday I have been dreaming of and missing for seven years. We get up, dress in our swimsuits, eat delicious food prepared for us, play, ride in boats under the sun while supervising whatever activity the children are doing, swim in the pool, swim in the sea, go out for dinners in restaurants occasionally, read my e-books and then pass out at day’s end. I have surpassed my previous abilities and fears by swimming in deep sea water off the boat, swimming out far and deep from the shore line even with a small child latched on every once in a while – something I never thought I could do; these and other things I never did even while living in the Caribbean. 

Yesterday, given my recent bouts of confidence, and because I believe it is so important not to pass on irrational fears to children, and even knowing fast rides are not for me, I jumped on a double donut (figure-8 inflatable) with my pre-adolescent girl and gave her much needed companionship and one-to-one time, while being towed behind a small sport boat. I may have screamed and held on for dear life, but she only loved it more, being braver than me, and that was worth it. 

Today we did it again, this time with smaller siblings in tow, watching us with part envy and part fear that one day they might have to do it. I swear the driver whipped us around faster than yesterday, flinging us from side to side with more zigzags and tighter curves, where the rope and tension whip-snaps you from all the way left to all the way right and bumps you over the wake minute after minute. I didn’t do a good job of convincing the little ones it was fun, but I think I made good entertainment. 

Then my Tweenie yelled out ‘Wave!’ as I was trying to clear my eyes of the saltwater during a brief moment. I didn’t know what hit me – literally and figuratively. There was bouncing, landing, bouncing again, then a massive catapult into the air and then a few long seconds of somersault-rolling along the top and bottom of the surface water, and more spinning deeper through the water. Apparently I also hit the rope and bounced off the rope, but I didn’t feel it… And then there I was, floating below the surface then rising up again. Everybody on board expected me to be half dead I think. Incredibly there were no injuries although I feel like I got the crap kicked out of me and there are suspicious burn marks and emerging bruises and a mother of all headaches. 

But that was it. One of my deepest fears of the sea, what keeps me from trying surfing and such, is what water can do to you when you’re literally thrown about like a rag doll, and I did it in front of my children charges to boot! I simply said, “I want to do it again to show you I’m alright and that falling shouldn’t make you afraid, but not today because it’s made me very tired.” And I will, another day. Maybe slower next time. 

That’s my silver lining. Even when facing your biggest fears you can surprise yourself with the outcomes. Because the bigger picture is I’m having a great time living this dream and I do love my job. 

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