by Christine Kling
As I am writing this blog post in advance, today is New Years Day here where we are anchored off Rotuma, the northernmost of the Fijian islands. I am aboard the sailing vessel Learnativity with her captain, Wayne and his lovely dog Ruby, aka The Wonder Dog. It took us 3 days to cover the 350 miles of ocean that separate this island from our last anchorage off the island of Navadra. There was little or no wind on the passage, but Learnativity is a motor sailor with a massive fuel capacity, so we motored north across an increasingly glassy sea and we had lots of quiet time to read, write and chat, as well as enjoy our meals in the cockpit as the boat rose and fell on the long low swells.
The setting here in Rotuma now is this palm-fringed bay speckled with coral reefs and framed by white sand beaches that would make even the least introspective individual pause to catch his breath. I’ve been sitting here contemplating how my life has changed in the last few weeks of 2013. Last year I decided instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, I would choose 3 words to focus on during the year. This afternoon I’ve been evaluating how well I lived up to the three words I chose when 2013 was the brand new baby so full of hope and promise. Last year my words were:
Intend – focus, discipline, determination, goals, effort
Treasure – appreciate, value, mindfulness
Stretch – being open to new people, becoming more fit
So, how did I do? I always struggle with will power and discipline, but when I wrote this blog post on New Year’s Day in 2013, I barely had a rough outline of the beginning of Dragon’s Triangle. In the next 10 months I turned that melange of ideas into a finished novel of roughly 475 pages. I’m proud of that effort and of the book. I don’t know how it will be received, but I know the book is filled with all my good intent. The second word I chose, Treasure, is one that I feel I still need to work on. I try hard to live a life filled with gratitude and wonder, but I know there are times when I am surrounded by beauty, yet too inward-looking. This is something I will continue to address in my 3 words for the new year. And finally, the word Stretch. Writing DT was a huge stretch for me. No question. And I have become more fit, reducing my own size by at least one size. Most importantly, in the last few weeks of this year, I stretched the credulity of friends and family when based on the experience of only emails and Skype calls, I flew around the world to meet someone new. Had I not been able to make that stretch, I wouldn’t be sitting here on this boat today.
So, I’ve been thinking about my new words during this 3-day 2-night passage and during the eventful first 24 hours here at Rotuma when we were anchored on the other side of the island. After our evening meal on New’s Eve, we were surprised by a huge shudder as the boat came off a rolling swell and hit the sandy bottom. We discovered the clutch had let go on the anchor windlass thus letting more chain creep out until the boat was in shallow water and grounding. Within minutes we found ourselves hard aground in breaking surf and forced to sit for hours waiting for the tide as the boat pounded on the sand. It may sound odd, but even then as the clock turned 12:00 and we knew there were no tugs, no rescue agents to call, I was thinking to myself I wonder what will my new year’s 3 words be? What most amazed me about last night’s grounding experience was the way Wayne and I went to work as a team to solve the problem without any feverish panic, rancor or blame. The experience made me want to find a word that communicated both the unflappable calm with which we faced the situation and overcame it, and yet the magnificent heart-pounding excitement one feels when face to face with the power of the sea.
So, after many hours of thinking and trying on different words and rejecting them, here are my 3 words for 2014. Some people might call it cheating that I include synonyms and explanations, but I do that so that I can focus on the particular meanings of these words.
Awe – wonder, reverence, respect
Tribe – family, community. This includes appreciating my own extended family, the opportunity to blend with other families (my son is engaged to be married), being a part of the cruising community and reaching out to the community of readers and writers.
Heart – courage, tenacity, fortitude, willpower. I chose this word for many reasons: first, I tend to overthink situations in my work and my personal life. The heart is the metaphorical home of emotion. But the heart is also that big muscle that keeps our bodies alive and so the word also pertains to my ongoing desire to meet the third third of my life in the best shape I’ve been in for years. And finally, I want to be more courageous in both my writing and my personal life.
As ever, I hope you, the readers of this blog will let me know what you think and consider finding your own 3 words for 2014. If you do, I hope you’ll share your special words with me.
ChristineShare on Facebook