Ahimsa. A Boat Name. A Way of Life.

If not owning toilet paper wasn’t enough to scare me away from JB, then his ardent dream of owning a floating dungeon (i.e. a monohull  sailboat) wasn’t going to send me into hiding (see About Us tab, above, for the story on how I was introduced to JB’s future sailing plans). A lot of life, three years worth, has happened between that fateful falafel date and purchasing a boat: graduating engineering school, living in a van, moving to Alaska, working for BP, falling in love, graduating law school, quitting BP, crashing the van (losing our beloved dog), moving to St.Thomas, becoming a yoga instructor, going through foot rehab, Donald Trump becoming the GOP candidate…. but finally, life gave us a boat. The falling in love part changed JB’s mind from a monohull to a more livable (for me) catamaran.

Lucille, as she is currently known, is a 38′ Leopard – a safe yet comfortable choice for our floating home. I, having no experience in boat purchasing, had only two requests: a safe boat, and a good kitchen space (excuse me… galley space). Personally, I love small spaces, living in the van was a dream… such a tiny space allows for it to be clean all (well..most) of the time. Furthermore, since I discovered the outdoors (freshman year of college) I love traveling to the wild places of world, but since I became old (when I started going to bed at 8:30PM) I also love to be home every night. Enter a travelling home, the solution for the adventuring elderly (why do you think RVs are such a hit for the retired?). While I suffer from chronic seasickness (even when on land) and I still have nightmares about a whale breaching on the boat or a rouge wave capsizing us… you could say I’m warming up to the idea.

Buying a boat is the beginning of a quasi-planned journey to see the world and start a non-profit funded by charters, in no particular order. Ahimsa, the first of five yamas (the first limb of Pantanjali’s 8-limbed yogic path), asks us to practice nonviolence; to live a life of sharing love instead of hate, peace instead of anxiety, and selflessness instead of selfishness. Ahimsa will be her name, not only does it please the tongue like a full-flavored coffee, ahh-hmm-sa, but it also perfectly embodies the goal JB and I have as a couple. Each morning on our drive to drop JB off at work, we listen to NPR and hear of the world’s suffering. I often start my day unable to understand the hate that pollutes the hearts of so many, and I find it difficult to put my life into context. What does it mean? Is the world a better place with me in it? How can I ever be ungrateful? How can I help? Am I willing to sacrifice my comforts for the bettering of all people? Many people never ask these questions, and many others pass over them – invalidating the consequence of a real answer before the question has even had time to simmer. Why? Are we scared of the truth? I am.

The truth, that as I sit here writing this blog, and you sit on the other end reading it, there are millions of individuals in need of food, love, medical care, education, a safe place to live, a family, and clean water. The truth that helping someone isn’t just sending money over the internet or calling a toll free number; that to help others we would have to feel their pain, give a face to the victims, sacrifice what is easy for what is good. The truth is that I am scared, and for those that know me well, in the face of fight or flight, I spread my wings as quickly as possible and escape. When I see a bear, I run, no matter how many times I’ve been told not to; when we lost our breaks going 40mph downhill, my first response was to jump out the car; when JB and I had our worst argument ever and teetered on the cusp of breaking up, I shut off and crawled in bed. I too often let fear make decisions for me, I stay where I am comfortable instead of entering a space where I can grow. Now for those that know JB well, after reading about me, you may wonder how we are together. JB is the poster child for logic, being level headed during a time of high stress, he seems to have made amends with fear long before he met me. As I made a 180 away from the bear, he grabbed me and brought me to stillness; when I started to open the car door, he yelled at me to put my seat belt on, saving my life; when we hit our first big challenge after a year and a half of dating, he crawled into bed next to me and told me he loved me for the first time. He has held my hand through a lot, he has been more patient than I deserve, and he has encouraged me to be ok with fear.

But, what am I afraid of most? Spending the rest of my life listening to NPR on my morning drive, hearing about the struggles of others as I head to yoga with my $150 yoga mat and green juice; my heart scorning me the whole ride, feeling guilty for never leaving my safe space. It is easier to hope someone else will solve these problems. So I understand why the masses remain unmoved, to be a bystander as environmental lands are stripped of resources for insatiable human consumption, as children are bombed daily on their way to school or while sitting at home, as the disparity between those that have and those that have not continues to grow, as natives and animals are removed from their land so mega corporations can chop timber and grow cheap fruit, as innocents are victimized by random acts of violence, as treatable diseases go untreated for those without healthcare or first world medicine, as coral reefs are bleached and fish populations decimated, as animals are brutally murdered for human gluttony…What scares me most is knowing that, I, like each human being, have the power to make a difference, but I choose not to. My fears of failure, death, and loneliness exist, but I choose love, I choose Ahimsa. Ahimsa will be her name, and if we can help just one person, one ecosystem, hate will not have won. Jack Johnson says it best (as he always does)…. “Freedom can be freezing take a picture from the pretty side. Mind your manners, wave your banners, what a wonderful world that this angle can see.”



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