D-181 days (Departure – on 1 Nov). This last month has been head-down learning WordPress and a number of other blogging/website technologies. This blog is an integral and major part of my personal goals for the Life At Sea journey. It is being set up to be a primary source of information, and hopefully entertaining reading, for a non-Resident reader. As in any technology, the hard part isn’t the technology, it is deciding “to what end” is all the effort going to be applied. What will it DO, and why? How can I make it worth your while?
Think about it. Living on a ship for three years with about 750 strangers (at least at first), visiting (at the latest count) 375 destinations, 135 countries, and all seven continents. It is a fascinating idea, and the trip of a lifetime even for someone who has had a few trips of a lifetime, already. I’ve tried to curate, in advance, the possible subjects in the menu structure, but I’m sure that will change as the trip gets closer and then will unfold and change as the trip progresses. I hope to find out what you are really interested in hearing and seeing as opposed to what I currently think you’ll be interested in. I’m hoping you’ll contact me through this website and let me know.
Six months from today I’ll be watching Istanbul fade into the horizon from the stern of the MV Gemini, and three years from today I’ll still be planning to be at sea for six more months! Amazing.
It is ironic that the very thing that has been an unrelenting wistfulness in my life, and an occasional painful reality, is also one of the major reasons I am able to do this trip. Anyone booking a cabin has to have the freedom and independence to even allow them to be gone that long. For whatever reasons (and I may get into them in another blog one of these days), my strengths have never come from having grown up in a family with close, nurturing relationships. Nor have I been able to create such a relationship. I feel that particularly strongly at this point in my life for lots of reasons. I have been very independent my entire life without the strengths (or travails) that come from “enduring” partnerships or close relationships that combine warming comfort with demanding requirements. So when the opportunity came up to make this trip, I was able to jump on it.
It’s happened before of course. I’m 73 now, will be 74 when the ship departs, and I will be 77 when the trip ends. With luck and deliberate effort, I’ll still be healthy and active in November 2026 so we’ll see what the future brings. Maybe another opportunity for the trip of a lifetime? Unlikely – at least not on this scale.
Meanwhile, I’ll be around an unusually dense environment of like-minded people on board and I am really looking forward to that – especially after eight years of living in a small town in Sub-Saharan Africa that is very isolated, in a country that is the second lowest population per square km of any country on Earth. I’m surrounded by desert, kilometers of sand in all directions with dunes that make it look like an ocean from the air, and some mountain ranges with peaks that stick up out of the sand looking like islands. As much as I love it here, and have loved it, I am ready for a change.
In the next three and half years, with luck and effort, new close friendships will be forged and lots of good and compatible acquaintances will be available for many interesting conversations. Experience would foretell that some other experiences will show up that are not so pleasant. But who knows! My favorite saying is “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” So, I’m working not to have expectations and just enjoy what comes up day to day. At this age, I am happy to say I’ve developed at least the rudiments of an ability to live that way. An awareness of it anyway. Developing skills always lags behind awareness.
Of course, the plethora of ports of call (375 of them!) where we can go ashore and experience a bit of the local environments will be fun and exciting. My first anticipatory excitement about a destination starts in Istanbul where I have already booked a flight to arrive five days early to enjoy one of the most fascinating cities on Earth. I will be able to share with you experiences of Constantinople, Byzantium, Stamboul, and many remnants of ancient civilizations mixed together with a modern and cosmopolitan city and culture. If you’ve been there, and have suggestions that are a bit off the tourism track, I’d love to hear from you. I do not tend to like tourist activities and places much. I’m trying to identify people living in the various places I’ll be visiting, and would much rather have a light lunch or a social drink with them and get to know them even a little bit.
If you are anywhere close to one of the Destination ports on the itinerary I’d love to meet you. Go to “The Trip > Itinerary” in the menu to see where we will be, and when. The route lines on these images are a bit too small to be useful! LOL. But go to Google Earth, or download the Itinerary, and you’ll see when and where we’ll be.
I will also meet (I hope) some folks I’ve gotten to know online through Internations.com, an international expat social networking site I was very active on until recently. I’ve met many very nice people on Internations, expats from all over the world, and some of them are living in Türkiye now. Plus there are a few “native” Turks living in or near Istanbul that I’ve come to know a bit. I’m hoping to meet some of them in person!
This trip is overwhelming in the possibilities, and my biggest challenge is figuring out how to approach the sheer vastness of the latest connections, thoughts, and plans that are now filling my life. Somehow, I want to make those experiences available to you. And I am frankly scared of the prospects. It feels like so much to take on. But I’ll do my best.
I internalized something many years ago from Ray Bradbury. I talked with him once in person with my daughter when she was very young. We were living in Venice, California, more than 20 years ago. He lived nearby towards the end of his life and we met him at the local library for a talk he was giving on the craft of writing. Although he was in a wheelchair, he had the passion and energy of a young man when he spoke about writing. He said something like “Lots of people want to have written something. Comparatively, few want to be writers.”
My goal is to become a writer and do it with some degree of skill. But that takes practice. After an interesting and diversely eclectic life, I have lots of stories, perhaps a bit of wisdom to share, and I like people a lot. I want to be able to express things from a perspective and put myself “out there” in the world. I dearly loved being an actor and being a writer has some of the same attractions. And it’s scary. I would like to do it well, not just put one word after another on a piece of electronic paper. I could use your help in learning how to do that. My interest has nothing to do with being a best-selling author, or with the “things” that go with being a successful writer in the common parlance.
I am driven by an interest in inner things, relationships, and understanding people and how we all interact and process this fascinating and dangerous life we all share. I haven’t had the luxury of having a lot of loving companionships that I have learned to value above all else. (I should note the irony that changing the original word “companionship” to “companionships” was suggested by my ex-wife of 45 years ago who has since become a good friend and proofread my initial blogs!)
While not looking for love anymore, maybe I will finally be wise enough and lucky enough to find it on a trip with so many people that are more like me than any population I’ve ever been part of. I’m open to it, but not hoping for it. I have learned to be a really happy guy this late in life, and I’m not going to ruin that by expecting or hoping for “something else”. Today is today, now is now, the person I’m talking to is a person just like me with stories, loves, aches, pains, disappointments, and “The whole catastrophe.” (Thank you, Zorba) Literally everything is ephemeral to a non-religious person like me, but the feelings that happen in the now, and having someone to share them with, is what is eternal for me. All one needs to do is to have a single glimpse of the Webb Space Telescope Deep-Field images of the cosmos, and have even a rudimentary understanding of the number of suns, galaxies, planets, and distances portrayed in that image to realize how absolutely insignificant we all are to the universe. Except, of course, that our own lives and the lives of those we love, are fundamental and foundational to who we are as individuals and make up our own universe – the one we live and love in, not just know about.
This trip is going to be one hell of a ride. I just don’t know what that means yet.
But for the moment, I’m sitting at my modest desk in a small town in Africa thinking about how fast, and slowly, six months are going to go by. Lots to do. I hope to get to know you better.