Living on the Edge...

Rocky circles
Very ambiguous words, lots of meanings...  We like that it's open for interpretation depending on circumstances and context.  Like a green branch, it can bend and flow with the moment.

In a physical sense, living on the edge is sometimes quite straightforward: the edge of population, the edge of the land or water, one foot in both worlds on the sailboat.  It also carries the connotation of possibly 'going over', the element of danger, getting too close; keeps the senses fine tuned!  The edge is a place beyond comfort zones, hard to get to, difficult to obtain regular supplies.  Communication requires more effort.  Not quite tame, the edge is wilder; the safety nets few to nonexistent.  Living on the edge requires more diligence, a softer path, living lightly, a fluidity and willingness to bend and give with circumstances.  Treading softly becomes a mantra; leaving few footprints, avoiding the clichés and habits of popular culture.

Mentally we are discoverers.  Not many have been this way, a few, and their signposts are tough to distinguish.  Thinking on the edge requires work.  There are no easy approaches, no 'good books' with preprogrammed responses.  We eagerly seek and sponge up what wisdom we can from people before us, but ultimately each and every decision and thought is our own, and we must take responsibility.  Moral choices become thought out, pondered over, finding that inner voice that aligns us with nature as we see it.  Many times we follow the same path society has chosen, but it is our choice consciously made based on our principles.  There are times our choices do not follow the status quo.  Those times show how close to the edge we really are!

Living on the edge can be a quick phrase thrown out to give someone a point of reference to understand our choices, or can lead to all night discussions in the cockpit with like minded friends and a good bottle of scotch.  Fellow travelers on their edges sometimes cross paths with us.  Those are magical times!  The kinship between edge dwellers is profound.  It really is family by choice.

There seems to be an emptiness, a general dissatisfaction with people exposed to a huge number of possibilities and choices.  In the past, people didn’t have a clue what else was available, any different than their immediate circumstances.  There are so many unlimited opportunities it is difficult to contain our expectations, to be satisfied with any choice.  One has to learn to choose what is truly needed/wanted and be satisfied with those choices, rather than mindlessly coveting every new shiny possibility. One positive consequence of living lightly is the energy required to make it happen; less stuff generally requires less money…  Mark Manson wrote a beautiful piece on this HERE.

We continually redefine our lives and choices.  We do it consciously.  We work and play at it.  We try to maintain a commitment to our inner principles.  A few more concrete everyday ‘edge’ thoughts:

For us, living on the edge does not mean barely scraping by, living with very little, being near despair, hitting bottom.  The other side of coin for us is the conscious act of living frugally and mindfully.  We have the means to live large but choose to ‘live smaller’, keeping a small carbon footprint.  We endeavor to keep our consumption of resources to a minimum.  Our energy consumption, measured by gallons of gasoline used, to kilowatt hours of electricity spent are less than 3% of the US average.  Our water use totals ten liters/person/day.  The US average is 400!  Our food purchases are basic, unprocessed, and as close to local and natural as we can find.  We spend a little more time cooking, but enjoy a much healthier, nutritious and varied diet. 

We apply our ‘Edge’ philosophy to other areas of life.  Personal relationship models are very proscribed in our society, any deviation from the norm is highly suspect.  It is quite an undertaking to rethink and explore alternatives to the accepted nuclear family with 2.3 children in a suburban house.  Nature exhibits an enormous range of choices, some of which make a whole lot more sense to us at the fringe.    

Possessions are problematic in many ways.  We may not see John Lennon’s utopia outlined in ‘Imagine’, but we can begin to do our part in the practical everyday relationship we have with things.  Living on a sailboat in the third world presents opportunities to share many things.  We like to look at things such as tools as ‘community property’.  We once lived in a community of 40 people and shared just two washers/dryers.  Can there be problems?  Of course!  Can they be solved with a dedication to working it out? 

So, are we utopian idealists with our head in the clouds?  Maybe.  Given other labels or boxes to be defined by, it’s not one I’ll object to.  We already have a theme song:

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No Hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Livin' for today
Aaa haa

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too

Imagine all the people
Livin' life in peace
Yoo hoo

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharin' all the world
Yoo hoo

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

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