The Big Picture

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A number of years ago, Gina and I went down to Puerto Vallarta Mexico for 10 days. My brother had a boat down there, so the 3 of us hung for the first half of the trip at a marina. Heaven. I love boats. Even have a 36′ sailboat. Anyway, one morning a fellow sailor with a 44′ steel cutter rigged sloop (an older design) came walking by and we chatted. He said that he and his wife had done a circumnavigation around the world for 7 years. They were going back to their home port in the LA area. He told me fantastic stories. Very entertaining. I also thought that he was full of shit. Later his wife spoke with me at length and repeated the same stories. So here is the story. 

He was a partner at a very successful law firm in LA. He was a litigator and made good money for both the firm and himself. She worked some managerial white collar gig. They had two young boys aged about 6 and 8. They had the perfect life. Power, money, position, country club, etc. 

On the last of a few late night meetings at the firm, he did something called “divvying up the points”. That was where the partners took their share out of the company’s coffers. He said it was interesting watching attorneys argue over money. He left to go get to his auto. Beside him was a junior partner’s car. He did now know the partner well personally. For whatever reason, the junior turned and smiled before getting into his car. He then said, “Time is the currency of life. Spend it wisely.”. Whatever dude! The next day at work the junior, aged mid forties , keeled over very totally and forever really dead at his keyboard. 

Some very short time later, the litigator called his wife and strongly suggested that they take time from work and have a long lunch. Like today! Not tomorrow. She thought to herself what is going on? Hubby’s secretary is pregnant with twins? Hubby is having an affair and plans to take up with the all too young blond hottie? Hubby has terminal cancer with not much time left? Hubby is going to leave her for another man? 

They met. He said “Do we have enough.” They had all the entrapments of the perfect life. After an exhausting dissection of their lives, they charted a new path. With the junior partner’s shocking death, they reassessed their lives. The litigator had sailed some as a very young man. He always remembered the days fondly. They sold the McMansion in LA, put a bit of stuff in storage, sold/gave away the rest. They also bought the used 44′ sloop, moved on board and got acquainted with the boat and a totally new lifestyle home schooling the boys. Then off to the Sea of Cortez east of Baja California. 

They stayed a little over a year. Then in early February they pointed southwest heading over the equator to The Marquises. Only about 3+ weeks in the open sea! Then it came time to leave going west through the South Pacific. And west they continued. Their journey lasted for 7 years. The boys turned into teen agers. The kids mostly lived on the boat but also now spent some time on land. The last 3 years were spent in The Mediterranean. All together 104 countries. Biggest issue worldwide was getting good drinking water. 

They would be back in LA in a month or so. The plan was to sell the boat, buy a much smaller one for just coastal sailing/day trips, buy a small bungalow, get the kids off to college, and reenter a more sane version of the American Dream. 

They also now understood that only rats run in rat races. Never again for them. I often end my correspondence with the junior partner’s profound words of wisdom. 

“Time is the currency of life. Spend it wisely.” 

Richard Doyle

The road of life is a challenge. It is but a series of potholes and roadblocks to negotiate.  What is important for us all is to focus on those things that we can affect. The rest must wait until  we are able to harness our wisdom. We all are in very challenged times. This too will pass.

Be safe.   RD