I was in a Melbourne restaurant eating dinner. A bloke sat opposite me and I instantly liked him. I experienced Nick as one of those rare people who doesn’t seem to want to portray an image. His clear gaze and relaxed body language warmed my soul.
He had not long returned from sailing a boat solo from Europe to Australia, via the Atlantic, then Pacific. No mean feat, except that he had never sailed before. OK, I’m leaning forward now. And the story just gets more engaging … some people go outback in a Toyota Landcruiser. Others go in a 70s station wagon because that’s all they can afford. Nick crossed the oceans in the equivalent of a beat up Holden.
On the weekend, Maria and I sat down and watched Between Home, the award winning film about that first journey. I caught up with Nick again recently and heard some stories from another, more recent Pacific crossing. Extraordinary stuff. No really … extraordinary stories of courage and nonchalant determination. When Nick arrives home there is no media and lining of the jetties. Nick is not trying to prove anything, or at least not performing for anyone. He’s just living life the only way he knows how.
There’s a bit in the movie that I love, even though the experience was crap for Nick. He arrives in Coffs Harbour and is utterly deflated by the bureaucracy of immigration and having to import his boat. Overall, I really do appreciate living in a regulated society, but I share Nick’s complete despair at how the ‘rules of our civilised living’ suck so much out of being alive. Navigating institutional administration can be soul destroying. Nothing derails me emotionally more than incompetence that has lost sight of the bigger picture.
Maria and I have tried over the years to declutter our lives so we can spend our best energies, mental and physical on the things that matters most to us. Giving away money and ‘stuff’ helps. Living chunks of time in a caravan helps, and so does moving interstate. But if you want some real inspiration to get out there and give life a red hot go, do yourself a favour and download Between Home.