The lure of a life at sea is the free room and board, food, and of course the travel, but if you aren’t living in the moment it will all be for not. It took me a while to understand this concept because too often I would get caught up with all the rules and regulations on the ship.There is something to be said for focusing on the task at hand, once it’s over letting it go, and moving on to the next. Too often in life we get so caught up worrying about the next thing we aren’t truly experiencing the moment.
On a ship if you cannot master this living in the moment thing you aren’t going to make it. Our jobs are intense and we never leave, we essentially live with the people we are serving. I probably say good morning, hello, how is your day about 100 times a day. My walking pace has slowed considerably because I can’t just speed past the 92 year old because I’m in a hurry. You always have to cognizant of the watchful gaze of guests. So in order to keep your sanity you must be organized and thoughtful in how you spend your free time.
Now at first I may have pre judged and labeled ship lifers as flighty or maybe even said they are running away from real life (sorry guys). But there is really something to be said about the intensity at which crew live. Experts at the work hard play hard motto a vast majority of crew are adventurers who experience life in the present moment to the fullest. At ports we finally have a free way to connect with our love ones back home but we also only have a few hours to explore the exotic local, not to mention pick up any random supplies we need.
The balance often times leaves me slightly disconnected with friends and family back home because it becomes a choice of talk to a loved one or jump of this cliff, see this waterfall, climb this mountain, eat the world’s best burger, watch the sunset in a place I’ll probably never see again. Clearly I’m choosing the new experience because although in the moment I feel disconnected from my loved ones it a way it has strengthened my bond. I have to trust that they will always be there no matter how far away I go and it’s felt great to feel so supported from afar.
I find the ship to be intensified bubble of real life. There is so much to do with so little time in such a confined space. I experience much greater highs and much greater lows then I ever have in life on land. In a way this has been a challenge for me, I have gone through life being fairly even kilter and pretty stoic, nothing is ever too good and nothing is ever too bad. While this is great from a logical standpoint, I was really cheating myself on really feeling which is in fact really living. I have learned so much from my friends I have made on ships who are so excited about everything in ports, even subway (the sandwich shop)!
Life is spread out cycle of ups and downs. Like a rollercoaster there is much anticipation in the arduous climb up often followed by such a freeing, fun, and even scary feeling of just letting go and falling. Sometimes these cliffs and valleys are caused by choices we have made and sometimes these choices are made for us. Living in the present moment has made it a lot easier to be flexible with the choices that have been made for me, because although I can’t control how I feel I can control how I react. Not everything can be spun into a positive but if you aren’t holding on to the past or worried about the future it makes the issue at hand a whole heck of a lot easier to deal with. Now standing on the outskirts of the end of my four month contract I understand despite all the rules there is a certain freedom of a life at sea.