How I found home, when my home sank.
I moved onto my sailboat for one week before she sank. I named her Free Flow, symbolizing the freedom and independence I longed for by moving onto a “floating tiny home”, as I called it. The irony of that name sunk in after spending over a year working on making her a functioning, livable vessel - only to sink on her maiden voyage.
I had worked for just over a year transforming a neglected 1982 30' Lippincott sailboat into a functioning, beautiful vessel of my dreams, and moved onto her Friday, February 7th. I’ll never forget that day — a gorgeous sunset bathed the boat in orange light as I moved my last belongings into her, almost as an omen of approval. I did it. I sat in the cabin, bathed in the warm light of the lamps I had just dreamt of months before. Now, it was a reality I had the privilege of experiencing. I reveled in the moment, absolutely elated by the high of attaining what was once just a dream.
It would be exactly one week later that I would lose her. On my first voyage out to the Gulf of Mexico, my engine would fail just as I’m leaving the safe waters of the intracoastal waterway, and I’d get pushed onto a shallow shoal from unexpectedly strong northwesterly winds. I’d fight for about two hours, getting beaten, along with my boat. I’d witness the first water surging over the floors of my new home, so I’d shut all the valves with a misleading sense of hope that that would solve the problem. I’d tighten all the hatches, make sure the anchors were set, and feel a deep sense of regret for leaving her alone to the mercy of the sea, as I rode off to safety with the sun setting on her silhouette.
The next morning is when I found out I no longer had a boat to come home to. The light bulbs that bathed me in warm light just the day before were broken, scattered in pieces on the floors and in places I couldn’t have put them if I tried. The lampshades I made by hand were torn and floating in the water that filled the cabin. The wires providing them power were already corroded and ripped off the walls from the merciless salt water that had violently beat my boat overnight. The cabinets were not just flung open, but the entire faces of them peeled off the walls and twisted around everything else I owned. My books, art, and documents were completely disintegrated — only pieces of paper floating in a strange soup of life.
Losing my home gave me an even deeper understanding of what home is. Those who know me often hear me say, “Come Home to Yourself”. I first had this epiphany on my yoga mat, at a hostel, in Cambodia about five years ago. It was an ethereal, spiritual moment — in which I realized I couldn’t control the world. I couldn’t control what happened to me. I couldn’t control what was dished out on the platter of life. What could I control? My experience of it all. That, I found out, is home. The “Seat of Self” as author Michael Singer calls it. This is the place where I realize (which feels more like a remembering) that I am merely a witness of this beautiful miracle of Life. In sickness, in betrayal, in elation, in love — Home is the witness.
It happened. I sank my home. She’s now in worse condition than when I started work on her a year ago.
“WHY?!” I want to ask. WHY. Why did this have to happen? Why so soon? Why did I go out that day? Why did I not wait until I was more ready? Why did the winds have to be so strong? Why was I not more patient? Why did my engine fail? Why why WHY.
Falling into the trap of “why” after a tragedy, can be so appealing. It’s a false sense of security — of reaching and stretching to try to figure out a “why”. During the days after the incident, I did my absolute best not to fall into this trap. Understanding that I don’t always have the answers, is a seemingly scary place but I find solace there. These timeless words by author Rainer Maria Rilke have been my consolation during this time,
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
I haven’t felt grief like this for some time. Probably not since I wrote this piece about suffering. Even as I re-read through this article, to proofread and check for any errors, my own words recounting this experience caused tears to stream down my face.
All the while my friends, family, and those who have watched this scene of my life unfold from the spectator seats of social media all ask, “how do you stay so positive?” They say, “Only you Tara, could go through something like this with a smile on your face.” My favorite one was from an old friend that said, “You remind me a lot of myself…get thrown in a bucket of shit comin’ out smellin’ like roses.”
I’ll ask a more productive “why” now…why can I stay so positive? Why do I still have a smile on my face? Why am I able to transcend this tragedy?
Because, I am the captain of my destiny. Ironic, I know. Especially because only days before I captained my boat into a sandbar, I was sharing with my colleagues the inspiration to a retreat we were leading that weekend…and that was it. I shared these exact words in a group thread, discussing the theme of the retreat…
“I keep having this thought, ‘I am the captain of my destiny’ pop up…One of my biggest inspirations to instill in others through my teaching, writing, EVERYTHING — is empowerment. To empower others that everything they are looking for, is within. Taking time in nature often reveals this magic. The inner knowing. The deep wisdom that lies within. It’s like an inner compass, to guide us to our higher selves. Realization / understanding that we are at the steering wheel in this thing called LIFE is so damn empowering. Life isn’t happening to us, we are creating our life as we know it. Where are you steering the boat? Ok…as you know I just moved onto my sailboat so you can tell I am inspired HEHEHEH.”
Life isn’t happening to us, we are creating our life.
Home sweet home.
I find peace in the unknown. I find peace as a witness to it all. I find peace in the responsibility that I created this.
I actually feel invigorated with the thought of living my way into the answer of why this happened, riding the wave of life. It can be so scary in the unknown, but this is the excitement of being ALIVE. And through it all, I’m able to find peace in the resolute home within myself.