Sunday, December 12, 2010

The past few posts have been about an adventure

I went on about three an a half decades ago and right now the things I did during the fourteen years between marriages are very soul-satisfying to look back on.

The reason I was able to do so many things unlike most of my peers is because I had one simple thing that they never seemed to have. It is a luxury that only those that were born very rich can or could afford. What is funny is that most of the people that ARE born rich enough to afford this luxury do not understand how to use it.

The luxury is called time.

There is an often stated that people can't do something because they can't afford to take the time to do it. Others say that although they may have the time, they don't have the money. Often times this is just a piss-poor excuse for them to simply say that either they simply don't want to do something or that they're simply too scared to do what they really want to do.

I met quite a few of the former during the time I was cruising my little pocket sailboat up and down the Inside Passage and the excuse that I got that let me know that these people was that they were saving up to buy a sixty-five footer and then they would sail around the world. These were the pipe dreamers, whose dreams were mouth and vanity. They are probably stil walking the docks in their late fifties talking about the sixty-five footer they are going to eventually buy and poking fun at the guys with little boats that are readying to cruise. Of course, they can't afford a pot to pi$$ in.

I also met a number of people that were cruisers, meaning that they were doing it, but they were doing it in much smaller boats, Twenty-two to thirty-two feet seemed to be the normal size for hard-nosed cruisers I met, although there were a number of seasonal cruisers that went into the mid forties.

The reason for this seemed to be both time and money. A big boat cost more, required more maintenance which meant more money. The small boat meant expoentially less money any way you looked at it. A person could afford a smaller boat because it cost him a lot less money. Because of this, the person with the smaller boat could more than likely afford to cruise it.

This is because he didn't have to spend the rest of his time making money.

Somewhere along the line I figured out that in a sense, time was a marketable commodity. You can buy it from someone and you can sell yours to someone.

What? What? I can buy time?

Certainly you can, but you just can't buy it and add it to your life span. I wish you could.

However, anyone that has ever gotten up and gone to work has sold his time. When you work for someone, he is merely buying your time.

But wait a minute... A guy with skills.....

Nope, the person is simply buying the time of the person that is doiing him a service. The wage is determined by the skill of the person performing the service. If you are a world renowned surgeon replacing a liver or a janitor mopping a floor, yor employer is simply buying your time. Of course, the surgeon makes more because his time is worth more.

Another thing that one seems to think is that they need a whole lot of crap that they don't.

I suppose 72-inch plasma wide-screen televisions are nice to have, but I really don't need much more than the one I got years ago. It still runs. A nice set of gourmet pots and pans are nice, too, but I can cook meals just as well on my old cast iron skillet and instead of having the teflon wear off, the old skillet just gets better with age if you take care of it.

In Kodiak I developed a pretty frugal life style. About the only thing I had to spend money on was booze bcause good liquor costs money. Beer was pretty much a gimme, as I often traded small services for that. By local standards, I was a lightweight drinker, although by stateside standards I was probably a hard drinker. Whatever.

Kodiak was a bountiful place and I spun my wheels there a little, getting by with little or no effort. I seldom if ever had a serious job, yet because I had developed pretty good carpentry skills and accumulated the tools I was always busy with some odd job or another. However, because I was considered fairly competent and had the ability to drop what I was doing on short notice I was in demand to accompany people on various little adventures.

Some were half-baked, like the time went with a couple of fools looking for gold, others were pretty interesting. Going out with the gold hunters was very entertaining. Watching a pair of fools on a fool's errand was something I saw a lot of in Alaska and it never failed to entertain me. I remember when their metal detector located a rusty pair of pliers. I would up having a damned hard time keeping a straight face over that one.

I also got a few hunting trips over to Afognak Island where I not only got to go free, but made a few bucks as somewhat of a half-assed camp boy. Alaskan hunting trips are not cheap, yet I was getting paid to go on them. Go figure.

While the Great White Hunters were trying to gun down a Brown Bear, I would be busy between chores popping a couple of Sitka Blacktail deer for meat. The meat would go straight into Jim Morris's freezer until I needed it because I had spent a couple of sunny hours reroofing Jim's shed where he kept the freezer. Jim could help himself to a little venison and I could use the freezer. I recall twice being the only one to return to town with anything to show for the effort. The Great White Hunters had been skunked.

When I made money, I would tuck some of it away because I could. My expenses were small because I lived for quite a while in a small camper trailer, parking it where ever I could get away with it.

To many, I was considered a bum, but I learned a lot about my detractors. Generally they were people that were in hock up to their ears, while all of my bills were paid, mainly because I didn't have any to speak of. My admirers came from all segments of local society. They were the people that had figured me out and respected that I was neither a borrow nor a lender and a person who simply took care of himself.

The fact that I lived without running water or electricity was immateriel. I kept clean at the laundromat shower and propane heated my place and provided me with a stove and lights. At one point I had a key to the showers in the harbormasters office because I repaired and maintained the shower. The trick to being welcome was to leave a place better than it was when you found it. I was welcome to shower in a number of homes because they knew I'd scour the tub after I showered. Once I heard the wife of a friend comment to someone that she wished I'd drop by for a shower because the tub needed cleaning.

I believe it was late in '83 when I won a pair of tickets to London which I managed to trade for a pair of tickets to St Croix. Actually, it was a trip to London, but I got them traded in to St Croix because I knew that in London I could not be able to sleep on the beach for free. Besides, it was a wicked cold winter.

It was a turning point, and while the trip itself is worth writing up, and I may, it opened a door for me.

I met a couple of cruising sailors.

One of them in particular caught my interest, we were kindred souls and I learned a lot in the short amount of time.

Upon my return to Kodiak, I checked my coffers and put my nose to the grindstone and scrimped and saved and as I like to smugly put it, I lived on halibut, King crab, salmon and venison because it was all I could afford, as it was free.

My January, '85 I was headed to Seattle to buy a boat.

I knew that with my frugal lifestyle and my ability to make enough money in a short enough time I would be able to cruise her. At least if I was willing to live on fish and rice.

At that period of my life I had the time to do things, and the willingness to do them on very short money.

After all, if I was willing to go on short money, I could afford to take the time off to do something.

When it is all over and done with, which will be in the next few years,I don't think I was a waste. I just die wishing I had a lttle more time to do a few more interesting things.

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