Sunday, October 13, 2013

Progressive loss of recess?

When I was in the fourth grade, I came out of band class one afternoon and noticed the upper classmen (6th graders!) on the playground at their one recess of the day. Us fourth-graders had three.  I flashed on my older sister who had just started middle school and was talking about how there they got no recess at all, but did get to play a bit at lunch.  Then I thought about my dad whom I barely saw during a day because he left before dawn and returned about dark.  The pattern became instantly clear - life consisted of the progressive loss of recess. 

I railed against that principle for much of my life until I recognized the fallacy of it - I could go cruising!  And here we are, moving on to our boat and rushing around to get her ready to take to sea.  Is managing the many small-but-crucial repairs, ensuring all needed supplies and parts are aboard and accounted for, validating systems that we will need (eg SSB) are fully functional, getting my skills up to the task (how do you rig Jumar ascenders and which halyard is best to use to climb the mast?) not recess?  Certainly bobbing around a crystalline lagoon trying to decide to go spear fishing vs kayaking is recess.  But that's not the reality of the life aboard. 

The reality of life aboard is more about making your own way than it is about sunny-beaches-and-water-play.  I have an SBIR grant to complete, and the responsibility of ensuring the safety of Cerca Trova and her crew.  Weather, currents, bad holding, mechanical failures, and Murphy's Law lead to constant effort to keep the boat going and in secure situation.  Navigators talk about "staying ahead of the boat" because you have to be constantly thinking about more than the moment of Now. 

But all in all it is recess, on our own timetable, not the teachers'.  We plan to play for awhile and then return.  How long we are Out remains to be seen.  But when we return, I think we will be different people, and see the whole of life as an opportunity to take recess as we choose.