The Story of Meaning

Catamaran and Island

Catamaran anchored just outside Eastsound, Orcas Island.

Once I get underway on my trip this summer, I’ll lose touch with the mentality I am exposed to at the workplace. I’ve been trying hard to understand the difference between myself and other cubical dwellers. What mental lenses am I losing …or gaining? How can I help others to break out the cube?

The dominant paradigm is a story of scarcity, competition, and dominance. I want to live a different way. I want to inspire others to do the same. Foraging, cruising, living off grid, in a frugal lifestyle which minimizes moneys influence in our lives is not just possible, but preferable. I want to share my lifestyle and philosophy because I sincerely believe that if more people adopted it, it would make the world a better place. That’s what makes it meaningful, to me.

Our source of meaning, ultimately, is a story we tell ourselves. I realize many people find meaning in the stories of ‘family’ and ‘career’ and ‘home’. Stories that have their root in a stable income, not necessarily adventure or freedom. For many, the negative aspects of the story of the dominant paradigm are acceptable costs to the advantages of the stability and income it provides.

Mushrooms on a Stump

Mushrooms growing on a stump on Turtleback Mountain, Orcas Island

I look forward to rendezvousing in the near future with the family that cruises the sailing vessel, Yahtzee. How do they meld the stories of ‘adventure’ and ‘family’? How do they define ‘stability’? How long do they plan to cruise? I can’t wait to find out the answers to these questions.

Depending on where the cutoff lies, I’m either the very first of the millennials or the very last of Generation X. I lost a lot of childhood friends to the trap of limited stories. They are chained to their job, stressed about the paycheck, and harried from day to day, just like I was. They tell themselves they’re doing it for their families.

There are many young people who feel, as I did when younger, that the stories of ‘career’ and ‘home’ were the only options. I want to show that other ways to live are possible. Not just sailing like me, but RVing, homesteading, non-stop-travelling, and communal living. That it can be done with or without a family. I don’t want societies burgeoning young adults to fall victim to the same traps as my friends, or be ignorant of the costs of those stories.

Walden Island

Walden Island through the clouds atop Turtleback Mountain, Orcas Island

No one in America needs to go into debt. Alternative housing like boats, vans, RVs, Tiny Houses, and Intentional Communities allow millennials to avoid mortgage debt. My college degree has opened many doors for me, but it also cost me $50,000. If I had bought a boat at 18 and lived on it, I would have traveled farther and have better net worth than I do now, 15 years later. That is to say, I believe incurring student loan debt to be a bad choice.

I bought a neglected sailboat for $3,500 a year-and-a-half ago. Now I can afford to live comfortably off-grid for a year and I plan to spend five months of that voyaging. The wealth of our forefathers is laying all around us. Our infrastructure is largely a gift. The millennial generation has the incentive to buy adventures and experiences instead of ‘stuff’. The millennial generation is the wealthiest generation to ever live, if your definition of wealth includes leisure time and efficient, sustainable living.

I think that is what sets me apart. My fellow cubical dwellers are still pursuing their stories of ‘career’ and ‘family’, while I’m pursuing my story of ‘cruising’ and ‘self sufficiency’. We all seek meaning, but I’m not drinking their Kool-Aid and they’re not drinking mine. Our priorities in life are different. We may even feel that the other’s priorities and source of meaning is irritatingly laughable. But ultimately, we’re seeking the same thing: Meaning.

Understanding this brings me peace. It helps me to empathize with them and see that our similarities are greater than our differences.

Related posts:

Cliff's Notes to The Good Life
Boat Office
Scouting Mission
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