As you know, last year I started sailing. This has become a time-intensive obsession, covering at least 3 nights per week, from April to October. That’s not counting the courses, studying, reading, that happens outside of that 7-month sailing season. Really, it’s all I ever want to do. Every day, every weekend: sail, sail, sail.
The other day, I was wondering how my life would be different if I’d discovered this sport 20 years ago.
20 years ago I was living in Hometown and anxious to get out. I was living with an awful woman who I was trying to break up with (every time I tried, she threatened to kill herself. I had to finally tell her “do what you’re going to do.”). I had a crappy full-time job making minimum wage on the midnight shift at a gas station. I had no money, 3 or 4 close loyal friends, and a family that loved me but we couldn’t live together.
20 years later I’m nearly 40. I live in a great city and love it here 6 months of the year. Non-sailing season sucks, it’s too cold. I’m living with an amazing wife who I am trying to retain for the rest of our lives. I have a crappy full-time job making good wage during the sunlight. I have almost no money, 6 or 7 close loyal friends, and a family that loves me but we can’t live together.
I have built my life for me. I love Wife and couldn’t bear to work away from her for extended periods, the type of thing you’d need to do with a maritime career.
But if I’d discovered sailing in 1992, things could have been very different. I lived in a town that actually has a decent yachting community where I could have learned the basics. I could have gotten a formal education after that, obtaining all the Yacht-master and Captain’s licensing (etc etc etc) probably by the time I was 30. I could have then taken a low-paying job delivering and sailing yachts around the world. Avoiding cold winters, living on the sea. Literally a Drifter I suppose, but an employed one. I could have made a life around this surprise fascination.
I do feel like there’s too much of a cost to do it now. I’d have to spend far too much time away from Wife, I’d have to really dig into professional-grade sailing courses for any chance at a low-paying-but-pleasant job, I’d have to give up the “treats” in my life – the holidays, the expensive clothes, the guitars… And I’d probably be pushing 50 years old before I could actually be qualified for a proper position.
I don’t regret my life - in any other path I’d have not met Wife. And any life with her is better than any life without her. But one never knows what one misses out on – I’d probably not have known what life would be like with her, so I’d probably not feel anything lacking.