2014: Bring on the Zen

I think of 2013 as the lost year. I worked so much, and missed so much, and spent a lot of time feeling up in the air. I started making a huge effort to savor the time I did have at home. It was such a blur, and if it weren’t for the notes and photos I have saved up to remind me of the fun I had, it would seem like it was all a dream. I wasted a lot of time being homesick and lonely out here on these boats, when I know I should have appreciated the opportunities my situation offered, which I did sometimes, or I tried to anyway. I have a few years of experience to draw on now, and I don’t know why it’s been so hard to be positive this year. When I was doing the railcar barge run between Whittier and Prince Rupert two winters ago, I needed sea time and was willing to work for months in a row to get it. I clearly remember the anxiety I felt at the beginning of that 85-day hitch, how I woke up for every watch and said to myself “you can do this”. I must have said that twenty times a day. I also wrote almost every day, poured out every detail no matter how insignificant. It seems corny, but it had the amazing effect of tempering my outlook on a daily basis. A positive attitude, whether I meant it or not, truly helped me. If for every time in the last year I said “I hate this” or “I want to go home” I had instead told myself “you can do this” and reminded myself every day how important this work is to me, how very much I want to achieve the end goal, how lucky I am to even have a steady job like this, maybe it would have had the effect of making me a little more grateful, instead of me feeling like I still hadn’t found solid ground.

I make it sound like I think I achieved nothing in 2013. I know that’s absolutely untrue; I worked almost 200 days last year, explored an amazing part of the world, and in one week I’ll have the time I need to apply for my masters license. That’s not nothing; that’s huge. And in between work I still made it home for a considerable number of special occasions, though I rushed and stressed and planned like crazy and flew across the country to get to them. There were not a few teary breakdowns. I don’t know how Jake can still stand me after last year… Speaking of which, having someone loving me through it all made many unbearable situations bearable. I am ridiculously lucky.

There, I talked myself into it: ’13 was a great year. I wish everyone the best of all things possible in 2014.

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