I've been trying to come up with a helpful metaphor for our trip.
It's not just like a move, though we are sorting and packing and leaving our house.
It's not like getting an advanced degree, though there are hints of the same kind of deep learning and sense of accomplishment I see in my friends who choose that route in mid-life.
It's not a permanent downsize, since we're coming back. But we do have to drastically reduce the amount of stuff we will be living with while on the boat and that process naturally prompts other purging. We know we're going to wonder about some of our choices as it is. (If we knew which ones, we would have made different ones!)
Maybe it's more like parenting, in the way that it upends all aspects of our lives and is a journey no one can take for us. Though many cruisers uproot even more completely and travel for years, we only plan to be gone for a year. But still, there's not a lot in our lives that will remain unaffected. We are reconsidering communications and wardrobe, sleeping arrangements and laundry, shopping and income and cooking and worship and banking and entertainment and plumbing.
We've followed several other people on the same journey through their writing, both in books and online. Some friends have recommended that we write a how-to book, though I feel like anything but an expert. Just like parenting, there are already a good number of books with vast amounts of wisdom and advice on this topic. And we have learned so much from the cruising community. But also like parenting, reading the books (and the internet forums...and the magazine articles) doesn't get the job done.
We still have to work through our own set of difficulties and find solutions to our own problems. That's true about it all, right? We have to live our own lives. This year, we have to figure out which methods, gear, etc will work for our boat and our family on our route. And then, we still have to do the work. After all the gear choices are made, we have to install it. We have to choose to pack or donate or trash everything. And when we move out, it will be our arms carrying the boxes. And when we say goodbye, no how-to manual will be absorbent enough.