Time. It's one of those things that I've taken for granted my entire life. And now here I am, 52, at the cliche mid-life and time has become extremely important.
When I was younger I often pondered "the system", how I would not let it grind me into the vicious circle. Get job, buy car to drive to job, to pay for house, to buy things for house, to work harder, to make more money, to pay for car, to drive to job, to pay for house.. repeat.. And yet todays society is singular in that mantra and designed to make me think I am not enough.. that I don't have enough, that I need to consume more, to have more. It's just as much of a bullshit concept today as it clearly was to me then.
I remember specifically pondering this vicious circle once as I was driving my VW bus "Sunshine" down the eastern seaboard. I had most things I owned in that van, and there was still plenty of room. I was headed to the Florida Keys to camp out in my van. My plan was to hang out for a bit.. free dive for lobster when I got hungry, cook Ramen soup ion the little stove, whatever. I remember looking at the other people in cars; invariably they would smile at the site of sunshine. I could see their looks of envy. My dreadlocks, my smile.. I was obviously free. They were not, but they smiled.. and I smiled.
For the first part of my twenties I had that free feeling a lot... that feeling that I knew something they didn't. That I owned a freedom they didn't. A pride that I was free. It's hard to put into words that feeling but it was and still is worthy of being envied.
But slowly, over time, the system crept in. I started a company with some friends in Myrtle Beach SC. It was a restaurant delivery service.. think Uber Eats before the internet really took off. We needed a website so I used my technical and graphic design skills to create and manage our website. From there I started a web design company, from there contracts with the federal government, then another tech company and the next thing I knew I was working extreme hours.. paying for the house, the car, the things.. the American vicious merry-go-round.
I used to revel in things like waves, or sunsets, or mountain hikes.. but now found myself believing the twisted system telling me that I do not have enough, that I am not enough.
I don't want to paint a picture that it's all not been worth it. I have two great kids, I have a successful business, I have some fond memories. But for the past 20 or so years I lost my ability to relish life like I once did. The ability to accept myself as enough, and to value who I am enough not to trade my time for the vicious circle that the world is built so firmly around.
And now I am starting to remember those free days like a lost dream. The days where I relished real things like nature, outdoor activities, living on an edge.. not the next Amazon delivery of stuff I truly do not need.
My personal life has been in a crisis for some time and I have learned that there are no certainties. And that realization has been an earthquake that's allowed me to check myself and to wake up from a fog. I have contemplated questions such as "Is this who I am? Is this how I want to spend my remaining days?".. and the answer is a firm NO.
As my personal crisis unfolded.. as the pandemic was overtaking the world.. I remembered a dream I had in my early twenties to buy a sailboat and explore. To live that free life I had experienced in my VW bus in a different way that would allow me to see the world beyond the American highway. Of course I am not that same dreadlocked twenty-something. I have more responsibilities, two kids to care for.. but I'm also not stuck in this rat race. I have a choice how I trade the time I have left on this planet. Time is the singular most valuable thing I have.
And so, at beginning of the Pandemic, when everyone was doing their best to be locked down I took sailing classes and immediately started looking for a sailboat. I found a project boat that I have poured my heart into. She needs a lot of work to be coaxed back into the vessel she once was.. new paint here, all new electrical, new running gear.. but she is a lot like me. She needs to be reminded of her potential and given the love and patience to once again be enviable. She, like me, can once again be the traveling spirit that enjoys the limited time we are given on this planet to exist.
I have been working diligently on my Magick Byrd for the last year and she is starting to show promise. I am starting to see the light that I will be able to set her sails and visit ports as a free being.. the same dread-locked kid in the bus smiling at the world somewhat arrogantly because I've snapped out of it. I now remember who I am and that my time here is valuable and that I will not trade it for a vicious circle of lies. Because I am becoming unwilling to trade any more of my time for anything less than fulfillment, I am becoming once again worth envy.
If this is a mid-life crisis I deeply thank the universe for it. Being me again is the only way I will trade my time left in this world. And as I sit atop my dream.. my Magick Byrd.. I have the same feeling as I did from the drivers seat of Sunshine.. I am free, and it feels amazing.
My time is valuable and it will only be traded for a life of fulfillment and adventure moving forward.
Mike D. is the founder of Sail Junky Magazine. Striving to find more purpose in life, Mike writes and shares about his journey to rediscover his passion for living a fulfilled life, especially through the medium of sailing. email@example.com