Narrow boat dreaming – again

If we ever do get our narrow boat I think I might rename it Dreaming, or Dream On, or maybe even Nightmare. For the last six months I feel like I have been swinging between sweet dreams and frustrating nightmares as the idea of living on a boat on the canals has remained tantalisingly out of reach. In my last post I hinted that we were getting serious again about looking for a boat but I don’t know why because there was absolutely no progress on the house sale. But what a difference a month can make. Not only is Spring now in full and glorious bloom but we have also had a firm offer on the house from somebody who isn’t stuck in a chain. It’s hard not to get excited.

Sweet dreams

Of course I realise that nothing is guaranteed with these things and until contracts are signed and money is in the bank anything can happen but we are allowing ourselves the luxury of dreaming once more.

Oddly, I woke up a few days before we received the offer in a strangely joyous mood only to realise that it was because I had just dreamt that the house was sold. It was a terrible blow to find that no such thing had happened in reality and my mood plummeted at the thought that we could still be in this position in six or even twelve months time. I could have got very depressed at this idea but I decided there was no use in moping and I really must take stock of what we have got and live for the moment. Life is full of blows and disappointments and I guess it’s all about learning to deal with them.

The problem with dreams is that they make us even more vulnerable to being knocked back. Goodness knows most of us are just bumbling along through life never knowing when the next wave is going to smash over our bows or a sudden squall is going to blow up from nowhere and drive us off course. It seems to me that all we can do is learn to take the knocks when they come and hang on tightly to that dream.

Which reminds me of my boxing days. I’m not a big fan of the sport but as a school boy I did have a bit of a go at it under the tutelage of non other than a British Olympic coach Kevin Hickey, who just happened to be our P.E. teacher. I learned a little bit about ‘going with the punch’ and that the difference between this and ‘going into a punch’ was a whole world of pain. I was a seven stone weakling at the time and I used to spend my lunch breaks happily battering a six and a half stone weakling around the gym. My comeuppance came when my sparring partner was off school one day and I was put in the ring with Charlie Parker (it’s all true I promise). He promptly knocked seven bells out of me and taught me a valuable lesson about complacency. It didn’t stop me fighting though.

Just a few months later I was back in the fray going head to head with a formidable opponent. I had come across this boy before and knew of his reputation. He was a skilled and wily opponent. I was on the defensive for quite a while before finally getting the upper hand. With a couple of deadly blows I had him exactly where I wanted him and in just one more move I was able to declare Check Mate. I might not have made it in the noble sport of boxing but I was at least Year Four Chess Champion.

All of which is a long winded way of saying that it’s OK to dream so long as you are prepared to take the knocks when the dreams are cruelly snatched from your grasp, or in our case, constantly held at arms length.

So for now we are back in the game of serious boat hunting with the caveat that it could all still come to nothing. And talking of re-naming boats, if you remember back that far; I could live with most names but I came across one the other day that would just have to be given to the sign writer. “Knot a Yot”. Really? What were you thinking of.

I hope the sale goes through quickly for all our sake because there is only so much I can write about dreaming. By now I really was hoping to be regaling you with fascinating and hilarious tales of life on (and possibly in) the water. Fingers crossed eh?

Remember the palm. Never give up.

Looking forward to the present

Head in the clouds

Head in the clouds

The worst aspect of going off on a big adventure is the way in which it changes your perspective on life. It’s all to do with that old adage, “what you’ve never had you never miss”. Or more a case of, “what you have had, you will miss”. Especially if what you have had was possibly the best experience of your whole life. Ordinary everyday life can seem a bit dull by comparison.

We are told that living in the present is the solution to inner peace and happiness but when the present is a bit crap it’s kind of hard to believe it. Isn’t that why so many of us spend our days looking forward to the evening, the weekdays waiting for the weekend and long periods of routine weeks dreaming of our next holiday. Surely that’s not healthy. It certainly doesn’t sound it when I read it back to myself.

Then again, everybody needs dreams don’t they? So where to find the balance?

The more I roll these ideas around in my head and the more befuddled I get. I mean, right now I am happy typing away and wrestling with this concept so you could say I am firmly rooted in the present so that’s a good thing right. But I can’t not know that I have no exciting plans for another big trip in the future. I can’t undo that knowledge so how can at least a part of my mind not be living in the future. The slightly bleak and empty future that is.

And another thing; if you don’t plan for the future then surely nothing will happen. I’m all for spontaneity but I’m hardly likely to get up one morning and just leave for a six month tour of Vietnam without having previously even considered the idea. I’m not even sure where it is. So we need plans to make things happen don’t we?  And here’s the real conundrum; when you are in the middle of planning an adventure that will take place in the future, are you living in the present or the future? It’s all very confusing. In fact it’s enough to drive a man to Buddhism.

I think I’ll spend a bit more time looking back at the photos of our trip and dreaming of the next one but I’ll do it all in a Zen like moment of the present. That seems to cover all bases.