When I mention to my students that I don’t have a TV, they stare back at me as if I had just casually informed them that I’m actually an antelope. We are living in a very high tech time when the idea of possessing the latest smart TV is as natural and expected as having a dining room table. “Then what do you do? How do you watch television?” Well you see guys, I don’t.
I grew up in a household where there was a TV in the sitting room, kitchen, and bedroom. I got home from school and immediately plopped myself down on the sofa with my brother to watch The Simpsons before starting my homework. I’ll admit it’s an excellent way to rest one’s brain after a long day of school or work. I thought it would be a strange feeling not to have one in the boat, but I couldn’t argue with Herby when he pointed out that there simply isn’t any space for one. Now granted, most liveaboards make it work. They mount one on a bulkhead and run the wires down the wall or set one on the navigation station. I’d just personally rather have art on my one tiny bit of wall space.
I harbor no ill will towards those who have found nifty ways to install televisions in their boats. I’ll admit I find myself wandering the pier on Sunday afternoons to find someone watching the Ravens game. But if you are at all on the fence about it or even in the mood for a challenge, I highly recommend doing away with the hypnotizing black square in your living space. I’ve found it to be incredibly liberating and have not once wished that I could watch TV since moving into the boat. Ok, so when we are connected to shore power, we definitely find ways to cheat. At this point, anyone with a laptop has either Netflix or Hulu. Herby and I definitely watch our fair share of movies and shows after we’ve had some time to chat and catch up on each other’s day. And when I tell this to my students, they are usually somewhat reassured. But then it hits them and they become wide-eyed once more as they ask, “but Mrs. B, what about when you’re sailing? What are you going to do on your trip?”
“Oh my god.”
Yes, folks, you heard/read correctly. When we are on our long journey around the Atlantic, we plan to pass the time by performing the ancient ritual known to past generations of humans as “reading.” The students scoff and tell me that I’m crazy, and honestly, past Maddie would have agreed with them, but living on the boat has reintroduced me to the pleasures of reading and I am eternally grateful for that. I never thought I could be so excited to crack open a book, and Herby is the same way. The only difference for him is that he still doesn’t read; he listens. Some of the most peaceful and pleasant memories of sailing involve a calm afternoon that allows us to sit in the cockpit or even the hammock while I read aloud to Herby. I’m a fabulous reader as it turns out, and he is a fabulous reactor. He gets audibly and visually excited, nervous, and sad all at the right moments. It’s a special experience that brings us much closer together than sitting side by side watching a movie. It’s somehow much more personal.
And so, to those folks who are wondering how in the world we are going to pass our time without technology for months on end, I will tell you that there is no greater gift than the absence of these things that we all cling to like our lives depend on them. We will be completely present in each moment together and notice the wind, the water, and the sunsets.
We will have real intense conversations about life and about nothing at all. We will make each other laugh. We will play games. We will read. I am so excited!