Living in Isolation

After eight months living aboard, I’ve come to think of Sea Bear as home. It’s where I sleep, where my favorite pots and pans nest in a big cupboard, and where my favorite books are shelved. It’s small and cozy, a place where the realities of the real world are generally tucked away.

Boat living isolates us because we let it. We have a television that works in ports with TV reception, but getting it to work often requires a lot of fidgeting with the menu and the antenna isn’t always strong enough to pick up a signal. We have a wifi extender that has never worked, but could with a little study and manipulation.

That leaves the smart phone to tell us what’s going on in the world. But are we really better off knowing about people dying from terrorist attacks, the latest barbs flung by presidential candidates, or the foolishness of a new Kardashian publicity stunt? Does it help us to know about Wall Street’s predictions or the color of a Starbucks cup? Will I be a better person because I shudder in horror at the latest shooting or plane crash or devastating fire?

The anxieties that result from traveling on a boat are more personal. Will there be engine failure when you’re in a narrow channel and can’t get to safety. Will a thunderstorm spring up when you’re in the middle of a lake. Will a steep chop or somebody’s wake roll you so hard you feel like any minute water will rush in. Or my personal anxiety, will my spouse sustain an injury forcing me to drive the boat to a port.

We live in an anxious world. Newscasters, it seems, are paid to make sure we don’t get too comfortable. I used to be a news junkie. I’d have my car radio station tuned to all news radio and I’d turn on CNN first thing in the morning. The result was a lot of worry.

This changed when we moved onto the boat.

My blood pressure is down. I’ve lost weight because I’m not stress-eating. I’m sleeping better. And I don’t worry about things I don’t know about and can’t change if I did.

When Sea Bear arrives on the West Coast from Mobile (it’s getting a ride on the back of low-bed truck), we’ll be in a port. We can figure out the TV and the Wifi extender. We can buy newspapers. We’ll be back to the stresses that come with information overload.

But it’s been nice living in isolation.

Maybe we should keep it that way.

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