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Friday, March 4, 2011

day 58: starting to get this whole positive outlook thang

Since mentioning the idea of the ship to friends and other musicians I've had a pretty overwhelmingly positive response with just a sprinkle of self-indulgent pessimism. Those are the few people who, as soon as you mention you're going to do something special, choose to immediately levy the worst case scenario on you. "Ooo, that'll get tiresome real quick" or "Ugh, get ready for tiny rooms and sea-sickness. Also birds will try and take your sun-lotion". I made up the last bit, but the point remains. The irony is that these comments usually come from the people who have never been on a ship and just want to seem like they have some valuable advice or anecdote for what I'm about to experience. It doesn't bother me particularly, I'm sure I've done it myself, but in retrospect it's kind of a selfish thing to do.

   I will grant that this behaviour can often be a product of genuine concern, like when a friend who has been on a ship says, "awesome man, you'll have a tonne of fun. Maybe try to pack light, the quarters will probably be a bit tight". Usually when someone without the experience tries to chime in with advice it just comes off as them trying to make themselves important to the situation. It's kind of like when you're experiencing (or 'supposed' to be experiencing) any kind of grief and someone swoons in with these big prophetic declarations of their condolences and how you MUST be feeling. It's about their production, not your pain. If it was about your pain the conversation probably would have started with a question. I find those conversations a little weary, but in this case it actually made me realize something kind of uplifting.

   I started to dwell on all of the things that could go wrong on this trip. Not as an exercise in futility but as a way to measure my resolve. The smallest quarters, the most adverse reaction to the sea, my luggage getting lost, total boredom at sea, playing terrible music every night, rude crew, thieving birds and any assortment of terrible possibilities. What I realized was that nothing could even make me blink. I'm so sure I want this, that this is right for me right now, that there literally isn't a criticism about my current course that could make me turn back. More importantly I know that any of these things could happen and it wouldn't phase me. This blog has been my training ground to move beyond the inclination to dwell on what's missing and in a way to manage how it is that I approach experiences. I'm open to this experience. I'm ready for it to be whatever it turns out to be and am excited at the prospect of the unexpected. I know that whatever happens, for better or worse, I will have what I need to keep going. I also know I will, in the moment, be able to discern and value the parts of my trip that enrich it (and I know there will be no shortage of those). I also know I will be able to see the things that could be better and yet not let them dominate my experience. This excludes physically being on fire or being eaten by a shark. In these instances I will abandon the need to find the positive and simply whimper and/or fight back using Steven Seagal style handjitsu, which is a word I just made up (especially effective against fire).

   So bring it on elements. And stay out of the few fantasies I'm allowing myself. The ones where I'm sipping mohitos on a deck chair, lounging with my new iPad and reading an eBook version of the "sword of truth" series while I think about nothing important and have no pressing concerns. *Sigh*. That's the good stuff…  Day 58, in the bag.

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