Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Casting Off Again

Casting off
This is a nautical expression that has plural meanings for me. As I write this, there is the major storm Juno still working its worst outside, as I try to sleep in my parents bedroom. My mother, recently widowed, does not want to sleep in here with its memories, so I am in here, with my fathers things staying untouched on the shelves and desk nearby.
Casting off....
In the Hornblower novels which I am working my way through, as a diversion, I am reading of his casting off to head to the frigid waters of the Baltic, an unfriendly sea, to my thinking. It is frigid here, with this raging storm, yet I have been staying with my mother, who is the center of my family, and my time here has been heartwarming. I dread leaving her now, but it is time to assume my responsibilities to my chosen lifestyle, and be getting back to Bob, whom I miss.
There can be many unwelcome places to cast off from, or to, but the common meaning of these words implies a person offloading something unwelcome, as in an anchor dragging one down. So it isn't the destination so much as the act of disengaging, that is the focal point. Casting aweigh.
I have only a few more days here before casting off to return to the boat, and living aboard in the tropics. It is a queer experience, seeing the extreme change of weather, knowing that I will leave all this foul weather behind. Very soon, I will be trading boots for sandals.
It is also queer to have experienced such an extreme of adjustment, in losing my father, having one day back here before saying my last goodbye. I am still adjusting. Nothing new there.
I have, it seems now, cast off into a new direction, in becoming the eldest in the family without a male head of household, and so I have grown into a new role. Traditionally, I am the one responsible for the care of my mother, yet here I am, about to re-embark while leaving her here with other family members around here, and me, literally sailing off in the distance. I worry about her future welfare.
This is an intensely personal time, with experiences I wish to share, but it seems rude to open them to the informality of a blog. While it seems disrespectful to our family process, it could be helpful to others to open my processing, fresh as it is.
I have taken some time away from writing to escape from exploring my feelings.
I find this act of writing surprisingly cathartic, and it comes so easily to me that I can justify it on the grounds of healthy emotional expression.
Back to the title, which means the most to me when I apply it to the act I am about to once again undertake, which is to cast off into the unknown in my life.
I realize that the great opportunity in taking on something that requires you to leave so much behind, is that you can--I can--allow great changes into my conduct of living.
When something so completely disrupts the everyday flow and habit of life, it can make  conscious the moments that happen. 
I see more about my life than I did before. I am aware of its uncertainties, but that is not the gift, so much as that I am aware that nothing is written in stone. 
There are inevitabilities, but challenging myself to encounter what they portend (is that a nautical term...port end?), has been  freeing.
For instance, I can go back and find that I have to get used to being confined to a boat sized existence all over again, regaining what I might have lost, or being seasick again. Yet, that will come or not, it is not so much a matter of control over my will as it is a matter of allowing a lack of control to affect me without disturbing my equilibrium.
In plain talk, I have already changed. I go back to a newer me than the me I was when I left to embark on this journey. 
In a sense, I have grown younger. If it does not sound uncaring, I could allow myself to even say that I look forward to leaving again. Not because I am leaving my family behind, because they go with me, in a truer way. I am eager because I am going to go back again to this voyage of self discovery, and to the joy of knowing the meaning of those words personally. A voyage to my self. This makes the loss of my father, who was a consummate explorer, less of a loss than a chance to remember him in the places that will remind me of him.
Since he was an airman, I can find him in the skies. He is surely along for the ride, in my own airborne. and seaborne, soul.

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