Wishing for the moon.

I have just read an article by micro adventure advocate Alastair Humphreys. As usual, it got me thinking.

Reflection on a long wiggly line

Reflection on a long wiggly line twelve months on

It is one year today since we got home from our long cycle tour around the coast of Britain. The anniversary brings with it a lot of reflection on what the trip meant to us and how it changed us. These challenging thoughts are accompanied by big decisions as we get closer to the time when we are in a position to stop working should we choose to. Right now, my thoughts are like a collection of washing tumbling backwards and forwards in a drier. Complex, tangled and not yet ready to be folded and stacked into neat organised piles.

In one sense we certainly got what we wanted from our break. It shook us up and gave us the thrust we needed to break away from whatever shackles every day life had tied us down with. We hoped that it would lead us in new directions and in some ways it has. We just aren’t too clear on which direction yet. Having a taste of adventure leaves you hungry for more, whatever form it might take.

We have made a decision recently that both excites me and worries me at the same time. We have been talking about the idea of living on a narrow boat and having weighed all the pros and cons we have come to the conclusion that it might be better to wait until we are in a position where we can do it without having to work. That’s fine except that it is probably at least five years away and that is where I am struggling. You see before we went away, and to some extent the reason we went away, was because we were really starting to understand the importance of living in the present. Making a five year plan feels like the very antithesis of ‘carpe diem’, or ‘seize the day’. In that sense our current idea seems like an abandonment of everything the trip taught us.

The plan I am talking about is to buy a cheap park home by cashing in some savings and to live rent free whilst clearing a mortgage on a house we own. That house produces a rental income and is part of the retirement plan. At about the same time that the mortgage is cleared a small private pension matures and we could then sell the park home, buy a narrow boat and sail off into the sunset free from the burden of earning a living. It sounds great when written down like that but for the small matter of wishing away those five years. So there lies our challenge. How do you maintain two focuses, one on today and the other years in the future, the second of which we have no guarantee of even reaching.

It doesn’t help that I happened to talk to a couple on a boat last week who live on board and manage to hold down part time jobs. Conversations like that fill me with doubt over whether we are doing the right thing. Maybe we should just throw caution to the wind and go for the narrow boat option now rather than wait. Who knows, we might not even like life on board. We might be waiting for five years only to find that actually, it wasn’t worth waiting for. I doubt that somehow though.

The challenge now is to seize the day, every day, just in case that distant dream, for whatever reason proves to be beyond our grasp. It’s a tricky one and it’s a good reason to set the alarm for 2am tomorrow and to get up and look at a giant red, eclipsed super moon because there wont be another one until 2033. By then, if we survive, we will know if we did the right thing waiting five years to do the right thing.



8 thoughts on “Wishing for the moon.

  1. I can relate to your dilemma between having a five year plans and yet trying to live in the present. So much can happen in five years and it is such a long time away, it is easy to lose perspective and slide into a routine you never intended ot start.

    But reading your blog, I am sure this will not happen to you. You can always escape on the bike for a few days, make the most of what you have at the moment knowing a new chapter will begin in a few years. And you can always hire a boat for a small trip. It would give you a taste of what’s to come and help decide if this is the right course (hopefully).

    Best of luck with everything 🙂

  2. It’s a tough one for sure. I can relate to it somewhat, as our plans can’t be put into action for another 3 years. Sometimes I feel quite impatient and struggle with the job of putting up with stuff I don’t want in my life, that can’t be eliminated just yet. I think in the end it’ll be worth it. Meanwhile, we work and play and travel where and when we can.

    Appreciate your honesty and eloquence. Your final sentence really does sum it all up.

  3. Sounds to me Alastair, like you’re confused by conflicting ‘life lessons’ namely ‘seize the moment’ and ‘careful planning, keep your eye on the ball’. They’re both entirely relevant, and by the sounds of your posting, both have borne fruit in your life. One has given you material gain, namely your house, and one has given you wonderful life experience. Now, which one applies now? Not knowing you age, and therefore your work potential, it’s hard to say, but one thing seems apparent. Your 5 year plan seems sound. Does it have to go the whole 5 years? Is it something you can back away from in 1, 2, or 3 years time? You’d still be further towards your goal? Closer to owning the home, able to borrow money off the home mortgage to buy a cheap boat and let the renters pay for both the home and the boat? Anyhow, as I said, both of your ideas are very sound and shouldn’t cause you grief. Relax, close your eyes and breathe. The answer will come.

    • Thanks Gary. Since writing that post we have discussed that fact that the five year figure mustn’t become a fixed objective. Any targets be they time or financial are all really self imposed and you are right, we can change the plan any time we like. Appreciate your input. I’m Tony by the way 🙂

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