Is This a Plan?

By Derek On March 11, 2015 Under Post

If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children.” – Confucius

How does one feel standing on the cusp of adventure? Is it as exhilarating as the adventure itself or perhaps more so? We have had a plan, not a dream but a plan that we have worked toward pretty unceasingly for the last ten years.

Ten years ago Ariel and I didn’t even have children but we began planning for this moment: to take our family to the South Pacific on a sailboat. I know good people who have ambition to be a successful, teacher, doctor or lawyer (even). Our ambition is different and certainly we cannot be accused of being overly career-oriented. I also know others who dream of financial wealth and then connive, scheme and plan to amass a fortune. Their final thought at night is how much money they have which is the same as their first thought in the morning. These people, while financially successful are never happy but are the living dead and should be avoided at all costs.

Back to us: taking our two small children across the world’s largest ocean at walking speed will give us and them the opportunity of a lifetime to spend time together and experience some special places that are almost never unfortunate enough to make the headlines. We will sail to tropical islands where very few, if any of the inhabitants have a four bedroom house with two SUVs resting in the garage. They won’t be wearing anything Prada or Gucci. They won’t be missing life with oily nose pressed close to overpriced cellphone tweeting inanities to a desperate vapid multitude. As Seinfeld used to say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” It’s just not for us.

In short, the people in the places we will visit won’t have much money. But they will have time. These green islands of Polynesia: the Marquesas, the atolls of the Tuamotus, Tahiti, and further west to Samoa and Fiji, are isolated pockets which enjoy deep, deep resources of time. The people there are time-rich. Cutting the ties that bind us to job, house and land, we hope to enjoy this chance to be rich, really rich, obscenely time-rich, for a while. As I turn 50 this year, perhaps I know we can always make more money when we need it. Yet, with two little children who are growing and learning each and every day our time together is more than precious and it will not come back no matter how hard I will it.

We take photos. We make videos. All in the vain effort to “capture the moment,” or to freeze time. We can look back at a collection of random photos taken over the years and it helps us remember some of the high points. Each photograph is like a mountain arising suddenly out of a vast featureless plain. We see it. It is memorable. Everything before and after it however enjoys no such distinction. That is just the day to day grind and the space is sort of blank. Enough! To the mountains we go.

Like gods on Mount Olympus, we now grant the gift of time to ourselves and our children, setting sail and heading westward across the sea.

Now, to change tack a bit as sailors are wont to do, as I write this we and the boat are still sitting in Seattle. This puts us a very long way from the South Pacific and we need to get there. Yet, now we cannot really say, “Here’s our plan.” That is because we are talking about the unfathomable ocean, the least explored part of our planet where mysterious forces gather and disperse, where they are born and where they die. We will be tickling our way, ever so small and unimportant, across the belly of this great body and much can and will happen that may slow us down or cause us to change direction. Our operation is a family affair, small scale. We are not a Boeing 747. We are thinking, rather than planning, of making a straight shot from Seattle down to the Marquesas Islands, 4,250 miles away. This is what it looks like:


I dare not temp the winds of fate by declaring we will make this journey “as planned.” I think in good conscience I can say we will depart soon, within a few week’s time. We will head to the Pacific Ocean and turn left. After that let the dice roll as they may.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Susan McBride
    March 24, 2015
    5:16 pm #comment-1

    Love seeing the photos of the girls and the tiny glimpses of prep work you have been working so hard on. Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. I know you will never regret the time you spend together. We have been fortunate to homeschool and grow a vineyard/winery as a family, and through this path, we have been given the great gift of family time that we desired away from the tech world where we began.

    Looking forward to seeing you live out your plan. We’ll miss Ariel on the courts, but wish you all safe journey.


    • Derek
      March 24, 2015
      9:58 pm #comment-2

      Thanks for the encouragement!
      Ariel is determined to bring her tennis racket on the boat…

  2. Colin Stewart
    March 31, 2015
    6:26 pm #comment-3

    I wish you friendly winds and a fantastic adventure, dear Hillen clan! You inspire me. I will be watching your progress. Safe travels, enjoy this experience together. Colin

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