I think if I had to find a quote describing what it's like living and traveling on a sailboat, Henry Miller's quote would certainly apply. I remember visiting Key West for the first time by car and not enjoying it very much. We'd flown into Miami, rented a car, got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours along Route 1 South and then had to deal with shoulder-to-shoulder tourists in the Conch Republic aka Key West. It was neither fun nor enjoyable and I had no intentions of returning. My mind was made up. Then we sailed into Key West aboard Nine of Cups and I saw the port and the town and the getting there in a whole new light. I absolutely adored it.
And so it is with many things in life. You hear about places. You read about things. You watch videos. You form an opinion … and then you go there yourself. As with my first visit to Key West, it seems the way you arrive and the process of getting there, colors your first impressions. If you're only there for a short time, it's hard to get a true feel for what you're looking at. You can't get rid of your preconceived notions and first impressions. You have no time to poke into the alleys and corners to discover what's really there.
The sailing/cruising experience does more than get you from one place to another. It allows you to immerse yourself in a new town … or a new country or a new culture. It allows you to appreciate the sameness in people and celebrate the differences. It allows you to look at people and places and things in a whole new light. It's not just the destination that becomes important … it's what you experience along the way and while you're there. It's how you grow.
What's more, when you return to a place you've seen a thousand times before, it lets you look at it differently because of what you've experienced. That's what travel does for you. It opens up your mind. It lets you soak up experiences and feelings you'd never truly considered. It teaches you tolerance and understanding and patience and self-reliance. It lets you expand and learn till you think you've seen it all and then you look … and it's all changed and you're looking at it for the first time again.
There's so much world out there and so little time. And you sometimes ask why we live this lifestyle? That's why.