On Making and Breaking Lists

I’ve never had the egotistical need to portray myself as more than what I am. I am really good at finding order within chaos and separating nonsense from logic. I have made my career the place in my life where I let my obsessive need to put things into place run its silly course. Like putting together a million piece puzzle out of a pile of blank pieces. And because of this I’ve made my fair share of to-do lists.

I’ve always been good at logistics. Maybe that’s why I have the career I have. When people ask, I say I am a Drafter. I don’t say Architect, or Engineer although what I do on a daily basis is probably closer to what most people think that Architects or Engineers do. I use computers to draw technical pictures and graphical depictions of complicated building elements and instructions to builders. Lately I’ve been more of a 3D Computer Modeler. Drawing in a Computer world what our company will be building in the real world and then teaching our builders how to interpret the computer animation. They are then responsible for placing the same elements that I’ve drawn into the actual position where I located them within an inch or less. What this amounts to is basically another language that I have learned to think in, and organize very complex ideas and communicate those ideas in drawings and computer models towards the ends of constructing mechanical systems into large complex buildings.

While this obsessive, overly structured, highly engineered and detailed to the last thousandth of an inch work has its place, it is important for me to recognize that it is not the solution for most things. It takes messiness to create beauty. Beautiful quilts are made out of scraps most of us would throw in the trash. Artwork is made out of splashes of paint. No one would question the beauty of their mate with their hair disheveled. One has to wonder if within the minds of artistic people they are making sense out of randomness or if their whimsy is what makes us notice beauty. I can’t help but think about what it takes to create whimsical things, things that are incomplete or that just don’t follow the straight lines of order that we have all become accustomed to in our modern world. In my mind pursuing exactitude straightens the line, and the less you try the more the path curves.

I’ve been reading and thinking about this lately, and it is a concept referred to as Detachment. The more you try, the harder it is to get exactly what you want. Inversely, if you just go in the direction of what you want and let the universe show you what’s available you will partake in some amazing experiences that would have been unachievable by the persnickety path-follower. Don’t get me wrong, order begets order, but an openness to whatever lies ahead can lead to things you didn’t know could be.

It’s almost as if when we try too hard there is a universal force keeping us from finding our way through. That list of to-do’s will never be complete. When we let go, throw caution to the wind, and let the world envelop us we are in a better position to find happiness.

Everyone asks how we’re doing, what it feels like, wanting to share in our adventure and try to understand what it’s like to be us in this dwindling time before we depart on our adventure. You would think that we would really have our heads in the game and be making progress down our to-do lists, but we really have been just living our lives the way we always have while doing a lot of thinking and talking about what remains of what needs to be done before we depart.

It is within this very idea of letting unstructured beauty lead that my head has been flying this year. We don’t always need to be orderly or structured and there is a part of me that realizes that some of the most awesome artistic wonders of the world are created by madmen and people with no social skills whatsoever. Being mentally structured leads to designing square boxes and straight lines. I’ve drawn straight lines as a career for 22 years and I am ready to embrace a new way of life that is more defined by winding pathways, curlicue edges of meandering waterways and unexpected surprises along the way.

What we did in 2017:

  • We had Thad and Amber’s wedding in January. Thad is Marge’s nephew. It was beautiful and a really fun wedding, dinner and dances.
  • In April we bought a 2010 36 foot Class A Winnebago Motorhome and named him “Verne” after the cute little turtle in the movie ‘Over The Hedge’.
  • We took our new Motorhome to Cornucopia for a couple of weekends in the spring and we really enjoyed being able to travel with our ‘home’.
  • We remodeled Wandering Toes’ refrigerator into separate fridge and freezer sides with all new equipment so we could use less power.
  • We put the finishing touches on the home we built in Brule, WI and we put our house on the Market June 1st. It sold in under a month on June 26th, and were all moved out by August 14th.
  • We took Verne (our RV) to the Hayward KOA with my brother and his family over the 4th of July and had a ton of fun. Even 5 days was enough to let us know we really wanted to do lots more of that.
  • We had an engine issue on the sailboat and had the marina mechanic fix it in July.  All is now fixed and our engine runs like a champ!  Good to know given what we intend to put her through this year.
  • We moved everything we are going to keep into storage at Thad’s house in early August.  Most everything we own and are keeping is in plastic boxes and protected.  If it doesn’t fit on the boat or RV, we really don’t have room for it.
  • We moved the RV to Thad’s house in Mahtowa, MN after our house closed and we lived there on Verne until the end of September. We really didn’t have any adverse issues and we really enjoyed motorhome living.
  • We spent two weeks on the boat in late August/early September in the Apostle Islands.  It wasn’t a great year of sailing for us.  With all of the distractions of selling the house, spending some time on Verne, and the incessant bad weather conspired to keep our sailing to a minimum.
  • We found and moved into an apartment in Superior, WI the first of October where we will stay until July of 2018 when we depart on Wandering Toes for the Bahamas.
  • We put the motorhome into winter storage in October.
  • My parents are getting older and we have been encouraging them this year to move into a Senior Community to make life easier for them. No movement yet, but they’ll get there sooner or later.
  • Thanksgiving at Thad and Amber’s house with their new baby “Kennedy” in November.
  • We had a new Bimini built for us this fall and will have a new Dodger and enclosure built for us in the spring before we go.
  • We are building the new Stainless Steel structure for our solar panels to install on the boat next spring.  We hope to have all of our electricity provided by the sun.
  • And we just kept Working! Working! Working!

And so it is that practically nothing that we did this year seemed to make any sense to anyone, sometimes even us. Everything seems out of order, we made giant steps on things we could have waited until later and we waited on things we should have done right away. We do have a list. Some things on it we really should get done before we go, others will just get done along the way. I think that I have finally begun to relax a bit and not worry so much about whether everything gets done or how orderly of a process it takes. I’m finally beginning to ease the sheets of my personal craft, and come a notch off the wind knowing full well that we are on course to make our destination.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that getting to where we are took a lot of nose-to-the-grindstone hard work and keeping on track. We have worked for years to achieve our dream and it did take a lot of working through list after list and staying on-track to get where we are. But I also realize that I will die one day with an unfinished to-do list, and the sooner I can make peace with that and get on with living and doing and seeing and being, the more I will actually accomplish. That to-do list may be a means to accomplish or get something done, but there is also a time to put that list down, look up from your smartphone and take in the scenery. To-do lists are for groceries and not forgetting how many of what you need from the store, not for ticking off boxes on your “Scorecard of Life”. How boring to just move from one to the next without letting each place you visit show you something that isn’t in the official pamphlet.

As we move into 2018, our long-awaited departure to “Set-Sail” and throw off the dock lines for shores afar, we do so in a way that neither of us could have imagined. The details of our journey will no-doubt make an interesting story, and I will attempt to paint as vivid of a picture of our travels as I can. Yes we have a plan, and I can’t wait for it to be deviated from.

Everything that I can get done will. Some things won’t get done. What I want to be open to is letting things happen that I wouldn’t have expected and being present and doing what I can to facilitate the show that is serendipity. To letting our Toes Wander!

Happy New Year to all!

2018 is going to be great!

David and Marge Back
s/v Wandering Toes (and Verne!)