I reckon there are two types of people in the world: those who prefer their work be an integrated part of their life, and those who would rather keep the two things separate. I undoubtedly fall into the first category, and I think this might be true across the board for sailors, certainly tall-ship sailors.
Tearing into a painful three-month long deck restoration!
If you belong to the second category, you might see someone like me and wear a hole through your chin wondering why in the world I choose this lifestyle. The hours are long, the pay is low, the work is hard and sometimes dangerous. I have no permanent home. I get no benefits. I rarely get to see my family and friends, and I get hardly any time off. The one little space I can call my own is scarcely bigger than a coffin! And the only thing that is certain in my line of work is that something is not going to function the way it should, it will happen soon, and I’ll have to figure out how to fix it quickly with limited resources.
Okay, yes, I admit that sounds crazy.
We work way high up in the air, all day long!
I’m sure fellow tall-ship sailors can relate to the conversations I always seem to be having with caring and concerned family members. “This is crazy!” they say. “They’re working you like a dog!” And it’s true. When you measure my “job” by the traditional standards, I am a member of an exploited population. The difference is in the rewards that accompany the obligations.
What’s hard to get across to those on the outside is the writing between the lines, the experiences beyond nine to five. How can I explain the fulfillment I get from my work? It’s somewhere in the skills and confidence developed; the people I meet and the way we change each others’ lives. It’s in the faith-inducing vistas; the moments of fear followed by courage. And it is also in the long hours and the hard work, and the pride in a job well-done that follows.
As a team, we accomplish great things!
Nobody asks a mother or father whether their children are worth the struggle, or questions a farmer for his commitment to his farm. We do it because we believe in it, and because it reaches deep within and lights up a part of who we are at our core.