There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
This poem has always resonated deeply with me. It has actually done more than that; it has provided me with validation and understanding. I have innately trusted the thread since I was a young woman, even though I had no words for what it was back then. I have faithfully followed it’s winding pull (albeit at times, kicking and screaming), trusting that whatever happened along the way would make perfect sense one day, or at the very least, serve an important purpose. The GPS track of my solo journey 2500 miles across the Pacific in 2016 is the thread making itself visible for a flash. Other times it is not quite so recognizable. When I think back on my life and some things I so confidently and erroneously declared as truth, I am just a day sailor stands out as one. I used to repeat this phrase like a mantra when asked if I had any big sailing goals. It goes to show that sometimes there exist truths in our souls that we are not quite ready to see. This is why I trust the thread. I am amazed at how it has always shown me the way. It continues to be a silent filament holding firm on its course, an invisible web of a life map, MY life map.
Even thinking back as recently as 2 years ago, just after completing the SHTP, getting asked if I would ever do that trip again would get an are you f***ing kidding me look. Within a couple months of that however, I would respond with “maybe when I’m 60”. And here I am at 51, just two and a half years after the finish of that race, committing to sail solo again across the Pacific again in 2020. It seems that I can feel the thread pulsating in my hand more than ever now as I pay deep attention to the calling I feel.
I feel alive when I trust the path of my life. Solo offshore sailing has become and inextricable part of my path now, and the call to sail farther, dig deeper and push myself in new ways is loud and clear. Sometimes the thread is like this. It can go from subtle hints to billboard sized flashes of truth without warning. There are times that I get overwhelmed and remind myself that I could just relax back into the comfort of being only a day sailor, (or a Catalina Island adventurer). That would be pleasant and easy. It would not quell the stirring in my soul to seek new horizons though. My drive has gotten more specific lately. Someone asked me if I wanted to double-hand the next race, and my answer was an emphatic NO. This is not to say I wont double-hand a race again, or sail with friends, but it is confirmation that sailing alone and challenging myself in this way is what calls me out over the horizon. I have been voraciously reading books written by solo sailors describing their journeys, looking for kindred souls or some kind of explanation for this fierce calling of mine. In my pursuit, I have certainly found kindred spirits, but what I am learning is that our calls to go to sea alone are unique. We can relate to one another, but we still sail on guided by our own inner compass, and in my case, the quest for answers to deep questions about who I really am without the energy of others near me. As one of my favorite writers on solo offshore sailing, Christian Williams articulates: “something is out there that doesn’t have a name”. I suppose that is why I am driven to sail out over the horizon by myself…..in search of that something. We all have our own SOMETHING to find.