“The worst of all things is not to live in a physical world.” —Wallace Stevens
I first encountered the quote above as an epigraph to Just Before Dark, a great book of nonfiction by poet, writer, and self-effacing tarpon fisherman Jim Harrison that touches on eating, fishing and hunting, and writing. That book has regularly found its way into my travel bag, serving to help recharge my batteries in ways that e-mail and cellular phone calls just don’t.
The author feels the diesels rumble through the soles of his feet as he steers through Narragansett Bay, all in the name of generating ideas.
If you pick up the book, you’ll see that throughout his essays, Harrison mentions that he keeps on the move, something to which boaters can easily relate. The body in motion, according to Harrison, seems to generate ideas from the change in scenery. I couldn’t agree more, particularly as I take on the job of a lifetime as editor-in-chief of Power & Motoryacht, where being on the water provides an even broader range of movement, and a perspective-altering view to the horizon. This is something that many of you figured out long before I did.
You see, I’m going to need all the ideas I can get and a consistently fresh perspective to try to help our editorial team continue to make a great magazine. One challenge we face is to understand just how you like to get your information, and to figure out how to provide solid data and engaging content in innovative ways, using the strengths of the medium at hand to improve its delivery. That’s our goal, and your benefit.
You may have figured out where I’m going with this, and the point is not that you should become an early adopter of every new technology out there—Google Glass, I’m looking in your direction here—and begin living life in a digital world. It can happen. And it can be especially troubling when it does: The poor soul uses phrases such as “in real-time” to denote an actual occurrence in contrast with something on YouTube. Could we become so tuned into our devices that we have to specify reality this way? This has never been a problem for Harrison, who purportedly drove his Subaru along country roads by steering with his feet while he stood in the sunroof. While I admire his creative thinking, the only thing you should steer with your feet is a boat.
But Harrison gets it right: The way to maintain that connection with the physical world is to see more of it, change the point of view, and keep moving. To my mind that means getting on the boat whenever you want or whenever you can, making the most of the boating season, and having some new experiences out there.
Easier said than done. Now more than ever, it seems everyone is working harder and longer to maintain the status quo. Indeed many of us don’t ever seem to stop. If you’re not actually in your office working, you’re making notes, knocking out e-mails, sitting in on a conference call, scheduling meetings, or reviewing spreadsheets. You may even do this while you’re away on “vacation,” working around the schedules and workloads of others.
The technology is there to allow you to do all of that and even more from your boat. Video conferencing has come a long way. The cellular networks are fairly reliable, and, depending on how far you wish to go, satellite voice and data are becoming a realistic option. I remember reading an interview with the owner of an expedition yacht in Power & Motoryacht a couple of years ago who was surprised not by the capabilities of the technology available, but that more people weren’t taking advantage of it. He would be gone for months at a time, keeping in touch with his business, exploring the great, wide physical world, and feeling the wind in his face and the roll of the deck beneath his feet. More of us should get out there and do it.
If you’re already there, and living your boating dream, please share: We want to know how you did it. And if you’re working on a plan to do it—maybe adding three days here, a week there—we want to know about that, too. Tell us about your adventures and your strategy for finding the all-important balance.
We look forward to seeing you on the docks and on the water, in real-time.