The Unbearable Lightness of Being

My children are my teachers. They greet each day with wonder, openness and love. Quill opens her eyes most mornings, sees me in the bed and sighs, “hmm-mumma”. She says it like she feels it; the word thick with the love. Being 6, I am still her whole world. She wraps her little arms around my neck and envelops me in the moment. She smells like butter and honey and her cheeks are the softest, most kissable things in the world. Moments like these push the heavy burden of adult responsibilities away and I can be in my self; lost in the myriad of details, lost to past and future and firmly planted in the now. There is a whole world in the soft white down of her arms, the morning light makes fairy rainbows on the net above the bed and the world sings anew.

Ask my children if they want to go for a walk and it is treated like a quest. As they don cloaks, swords and leather satchels, the adventure has already begun. They are deciding which character they will be and what land they journey to as we climb the fence and start out through the long golden grass. When I walk with them I am astounded by the detail they see in the world that I would usually blunder past; a bright red leaf, a tiny pebble shaped like a love heart, all sorts of tiny critters. Their world is a safe haven, leaving them free to be inventors, raiders and queens.

When I was their age, my family lived in Greece. It was a golden time. Fuelled by my parents “hippy phase”, my sister and I spent our formative years sailing the summers through sapphire seas, legs swung over the quays of many a cobble-stone dock. I remember the smell of the bakers in the morning, a lump of warm sticky dough given over for fishing with. I remember the rhythm of the language rat-ta-ta-ta-ting out across the bay as men with leathery skin caught our bow line and welcomed us to the quay.

I used to lie on the deck when dad dropped the big white headsail, its folds would enshroud me and I imagined a land of wondrous white caverns until I fell asleep. Salt encrusted ropes and the smell of the sea, sun-warmed figs and peaches that dripped juice to the elbow if you let them; these are the still-life memories that charm those years spent sailing in Greece.

Once, while running through a field of yellow grass, a feeling of lightness came over me. My legs pumped effortlessly and I was propelled as if in a dream. Between strides my feet felt as though they might never come back to earth. It was like the whole world existed in that moment alone.

There was something magical about that afternoon, I remember it lucidly. The warmth of the soft Mediterranean sun, the salt crystals caught in the hairs on my arms, the cicadas shrill rhythms growing raucous and subsiding in waves.

Not only is that memory clear, it is also decisive;  it inspires my journey through life. It reinforces the lessons my children teach me; that there is a very fine line between the every day and the magical. It compels me to say “Yes!” to adventures as they present themselves and to be child-like in my approach. So, despite the pressing schedule of a working mother who lives on, and runs, a farm; regardless of the relentless responsibilities of the adult world and all the things I cannot change, I ask myself “who will I be today, what treasures shall I pack in my bag and to what quest do I owe the pleasure?”.

This September I load up my pack, put on my lucky cowgirl boots and return to the salt seas on which I was raised. My quest? To assist in guiding twenty four clients, on six yachts, from Split to Dubrovnik, Croatia. The concept is called a Yacht Rally and includes racing, cruising, land excursions, dinners and presentations and it promises to be the kind of experience that gets used as a yardstick to measure the authenticity of other adventures.   

I know saying “yes” to adventure and being child-like in my approach sends ripples out into my intimate social ecology; I am a better mother, lover and friend as a direct consequence of this choice. And, like the bards of old, telling the tale to a larger audience draws strangers and other adventurers into that ecology. It is no coincidence then, that an old friend, professional photographer and aspiring film-maker cycled back into my life and is now happily colluding to film this amazing experience.

The word enthusiasm comes from the the Greek word enthousiasmos meaning “possessed by a god”. Children are inherently enthusiastic, you can see it shining out of them, it is infectious too and collects collaborators like metal to a magnet. Like an alchemist then, I collect up the openness to wonder taught by my children, the magical moments of my childhood and the enthusiasm that holds a god inside me. I pack them alongside my lucky boots, my camera and editing suite and I launch myself at this next adventure...Croatia  Yacht Rally, ready or not, here I come!

Author: Gabrielle Joyce from Mariner Boating

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