Returning from another trip to Holland (ouch, giant-size carbon footprint by now) everything seemed a bit unreal for some days, but what is reality?
Often, when talking to non-sailors, we get remarks like: “What a wonderful, carefree, worry-less dream life.” Actually, even people who have a sailing boat which they use for long holiday trips, think cruising is just one long holiday, away from reality.
On internet I came across an article written by Robert Pirsig, to many well known for his book “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance” and, to a lesser extent, for his book “Lila”. The following paragraphs in the article struck me as The answer to those who consider cruising “living your dream”.
“The house-car-job complex with its nine-to-five office routine is common only to a very small percentage of the earth's population and has only been common to this percentage for the last
hundred years or so. If this is reality, have the millions of years that preceded our current century all been unreal?
An alternative - and better - definition of reality can be found by naming some of its components ...air...sunlight...wind...water...the motion of waves...the patterns of clouds before a coming storm. These elements, unlike twentieth-century office routines, have been here since before life appeared on this planet and they will continue long after office routines are gone. They are understood by everyone, not just a small segment of a highly advanced society. When considered on purely logical grounds, they are more real than the extremely transitory life-styles of the modern civilization.
If this is so, then it follows that those who see sailing as an escape from reality have got their understanding of both sailing and reality completely backwards. Sailing is not an escape but a return to and a confrontation of a reality from which modern civilization is itself an escape. For centuries, man suffered from the reality of an earth that was too dark or too hot or too cold for his comfort, and to escape this he invented complex systems of lighting, heating and air conditioning. Sailing rejects these and returns to the old realities of dark and heat and cold. Modern civilization has found radio, TV, movies, nightclubs and a huge variety of mechanized entertainment to titillate our senses and help us escape from the apparent boredom of the earth and the sun and wind and stars. Sailing returns to these ancient realities.”
The full article can be found here http://www.moq.org/forum/Pirsig/cruisingblues.html