A few weeks ago I packed my bag and nervously boarded the Leeuwin II for a five day sailing voyage.
If you have an image of people sunbathing and relaxing on deck, then think again. This was not that kind of trip. It was a trip to challenge young people (primarily teenagers) and push them to their limits. It involved hauling and heaving ropes, scrubbing the deck and waking up in the early hours of the morning to be on watch (Not exactly my idea of fun).
On the second day of the voyage the Captain said to us ‘”For some of you, today will probably be the worst day of your life!”.
I thought to myself rather smugly “Yeah, yeah captain, don’t you think you’re being a little melodramatic?”
But the Captain was spot on.
It was the worst day of my life. I don’t think I have ever vomited so much before. To make matters worse I was wet, cold and sleep deprived. I didn’t want to eat because I knew what would happen – it would just come up again. So I should add to the list that I was low in energy.
I remember being surrounded by sick teenagers who were vomiting over the edge of the ship when I said to one of the crew members:
“I am not doing this anymore! When we reach land I am calling up my family and they will collect me… I am an adult and can make my own decisions!”
This crew member looked me straight in the eye and said “This is not you talking, this is the sea sickness talking” (Not the kind of response I wanted to hear!)
So I stuck it out and I got through the 5 day voyage, had some really enjoyable moments and made some new friends. But I can’t tell you how relieved and grateful I was to get back home – to my own bed, to my family and closest friends.
Once I had stopped rocking on land and got some decent sleep, I noticed something really amazing had happened to me. I became super productive and focused. I had new energy and my faith in people and life had been renewed.
How did this happen? I spoke to a fellow crew member (a high school teacher) who said she had had a similar experience to me. This is what she pinpointed her new energy to:
“I think it is partly the idea that at any age we can have adventure and unusual experiences. That whatever path we are on, with all its expected events and challenges, there are people and places and options that will come into our lives (especially if we seek them out) that will spice it up and send it on new tragectories”
So whilst I wouldn’t go sailing again, I am glad I had this new experience. I think we can all get to a stage in our lives where everything starts to become quite predictable. We become so set in our ways and daily routines that we lose sight of a lot of the beauty in life and can start taking things (and each other) for granted.