I wrote something little on Afoma Here.
The first time I spent nearly 10 hours on a boat.
Okay, so it was 9 hours but ten sounds better.
I recently took a trip to Union island; a Grenadine island. I live St Vincent & the Grenadines and I go to medical school there. I booked the fast ferry which usually makes the trip in two hours. We left at 10 in the morning. I was very excited. I took a selfie or two for snapchat and put on my music as soon as the boat left the dock. On the boat, I alternated between reading a book and listening to music.
Few things are as peaceful as being safe on a boat in the middle of the deep blue sea. Floating. Disconnected.
The boat docked at the first island at about 10:30am. I was listening to music and falling in and out of sleep. About five minutes passed before I realized that no one was getting off. I thought it was just taking some time, so I dozed a bit more.
‘Hey! The boat has problems. You didn’t know?’ An older man was leaning into my face and even though I had just woken up, I could tell he was judging me. I knew even before he said,
‘See what happens when you block your ears? You didn’t hear the captain make the announcement’
My mother would have applauded him.
Home follows you around; you only have to look out for it sometimes.
I stood up, put my iPod and kindle in my bag and looked around. All the passengers had moved towards the door like ants to sugar. The boat had developed a piston problem and we were docking in the island of Bequia until the slow ferry came by in around 2 hours time. The crew was nice enough to put on a movie for the rest of us not getting off at Bequia. It was a film I’d watched once before on a plane- Joyful Noise.
I’m not a huge fan of re-watching movies unless in the following circumstances:
-With someone who’s never seen the movie.
-In a different place, at least 2 months after the first watch.
-I didn’t pay enough attention the first time.
-The movie is ‘Pretty Woman’ or ‘Eat.Pray.Love’
-I’m going to be quizzed on the movie.
I liked watching ‘Joyful Noise’ the second time and here’s what I learned:
There’s always something new to be found in a second look and it’s not necessarily always good.
The slow ferry arrived at about half past 1. I had eaten my sandwich at about 12. To preserve energy because I wasn’t sure whether I’d find anything to eat on board, I took a nap. On a white bench with my backpack as my pillow and my hat over half of my face. I felt like I was in a movie with the music in my ears and nothing but green hills and deep blue sea around. It was beautiful. The sun came every now and then, slowly crawling over my face to remind me that it was there.
Many times I wanted to read my book or take pictures but it felt better to just BE. To just take it all in. My initial instinct when I see a stunning sunset is to reach for my camera (and I reached many times) but, I’m learning to sit still (as soon as I’ve gotten one shot) and just be present in every glorious or not so glorious moment.
I don’t like to speak to strangers. Not many good things have come out of it for me. A few of my friends have perfected the art of discussing with strangers and when I’m feeling up to it, I try to. I spoke to a girl on the boat, really just to ask if and where I could get something to eat. She showed me where and we talked a bit. It’s common practice here for people to tell you their entire life story at the first acquaintance and that she did. She wasn’t bragging because her story wasn’t of something she was proud of. I hadn’t seen this quote from Elizabeth Gilbert at the time but it encapsulates my next thought
“…I learned that not only does everybody have a story that would stop your heart but everybody wants to tell you about it”
I went downstairs to buy myself a sandwich. The man in charge was not the nicest, really. I know it may seem naive or petty but I actually really like nice people. Especially when they’re nice to strangers. It really doesn’t take that much. Anyway, I was extra polite and said, “may I?” “Please” and “Thank you” because when people aren’t nice to me, my defense is really to become nicer. It may make them nice or angrier. It keeps me at peace. At the end, a man came and told the man in charge that he was being mean because he hadn’t even responded to my saying thanks. I like to think that when people aren’t nice, they’re either not warm or having a bad day. There’s simply no other explanation.
Break the hurt cycle. Be polite to people who may not seem to be as nice as you are, because whether or not people show it, everyone loves kindness.
The second half of my trip, I mostly listened to Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast ‘Big Magic’ and I paid so much attention, mostly because my phone was dead and it was just so peaceful. I had been so afraid of how long this trip would take and how my phone had died so quickly. I thought I’d have been bored and lonely and hungry. I was indeed hungry for a while and tired too but a 3-hour nap in the middle of the day changed that. At the end of the trip, when I arrived Union Island at about past 8pm, I was happy to be getting off the ferry and meeting with people. I learned three things:
- I love alone time so much and I think everyone needs a degree of time alone. Alone like without your phone or any technology, except maybe music in the background, just you and your thoughts. It’s a bit romanticized, I know, but it is important.
- We also need to be around people, to talk to people and to listen to people. No man is an island.
- Being bored can be the absolute best thing if you put it to good use. At least I can confirm that it will cause you to pay immense attention to whatever “distraction” you invent.