Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Work Play Conundrum

Having seemingly survived half a foot of snow and three inch thick ice (snow and ice remain resolutely imperial in my mind), the good yacht Sunshine was subject to human overwintering at the weekend.

Fortunately we had already filled the engine cooling system with anti-freeze a week before the snowfall, tucking it up with a duvet as an extra preventative.

But she's an old boat and the snowmelt had found all the routes inwards, down the mast and under the cockpit seats being two preferred pathways. We'd removed the cushions too so she was looking an unappealing and unlikely pleasurecraft on Sunday.

But owning a boat (even only as a third share) is a good lesson in taking the good with the bad, the rough with the smooth, and work with play. Although I'm not quite sure when the play begins when sailing - certainly not at the chart table, the sail changes, the weather forecasting, or skippering inexperienced crew.

It's a bit like being a poet. When are you not a poet? Certainly not when you're asleep (that's often when I'm busiest), or watching telly (although I've given up on most of the ideas that floated by as I was watching the British Museum's History of the World), or being with friends (too many of them have become sounding boards or inspirations).

And there was me, in my twenties, vowing not to follow in my father's footsteps of living and breathing work. The Protestant Work Ethic is not just an ethic, it is a gene.

But then it isn't really work in that sense of management, salary and pension. It's work in the sense of a romanticised freedom; as in I'm on a boat and can go anywhere (the wind and sea permit); as in I'm a writer I can do anything (I'm capable of expressing). What is real freedom?


David said...

"What is real freedom." Oh go on, ask a difficult one instead :)

Sarah Hymas said...

Okay, how about this: can freedom be unromantic?

David said...

She's at it again...