Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fear of flailing (technically speaking)

This week a new boat is moored in our marina. Small, simple, efficient and world-weary -- she has clearly traveled the world. We brought two Tootsie Pops as gifts and introduced ourselves.

 Faith and Cindy have been sailing the world for 12 years. They live very simply -- little or no meat, no alcohol, no marinas, rare restaurants. No beauty shops -- they cut each other's hair.  I was deeply inspired and overwhelmed with questions. What are your favorite sailing grounds? Turkey, Moorea (Tahiti), Italy and Australia.(noted!) What is your favorite cruising food? Couscous. (check!)  How do you do watches? Six hour shifts.(Wow -- not three or four? Actually, that sounds fantastic! We'll try it!)

We talked excitedly into the night, four kindred spirits sharing our hopes, dreams, experiences and cautionary tales.

Then the hubster asked about their computer system, modem and single side band.

Suddenly my eyes glazed over and my synapses ceased firing.

Here is where I must confess that I'm a technophobe of the worst kind. While I enjoy all of the benefits that my laptop, cell phone, Kindle and DVR bring me, if I lived alone I would probably end up happily residing in a single room apartment with a land line and a small TV with rabbit ears.

What frustrates me about modern technology is that no sooner have I invested hours and hours into learning how a software/hardware system functions, it either breaks down or becomes obsolete, rendering my hours of mental investment moot.

My nightmare can be expressed in four words: increasingly complex technical systems. This is feedback-loop hell to me.

So, back to Faith and Cindy, who recommended we buy a new back-up laptop for the trip -- preferrably an IBM compatible, as opposed to the Apple we currently use (YIKES! Cough, hack, where's my inhaler...). This also triggers my second major fear: financial issues. Then the hubster implies that we might be using both laptops at once during our travels.

That's it. My breaking point. I freak out. While the three of them continue their modern, rational, technical discussion of boat communication systems, in my panicked mind I have now jumped to this fictional nightmare scenario, in which we have spent every penny of our kitty before we've even left the dock, and where the hubster has maniacally built a gigantic super-computer communications center at our nav station worthy of the QE II, groaning so large it tilts our little boat gently to starboard, and rendering our solar panels woefully inadequate to charge them.

Sigh. I know I'm not alone in my fear. I realize that the answer is to understand that technology is a tool that can enrich our lives.  It is not the enemy. So, in this as in all things, I seek the middle way. We need just the right amount of technology to enrich our lives -- but no more.   Finding that sweet spot is the challenge.

The hubster, thankfully, is proficient in this area. He enjoys the challenge and certainly has the intellect and constitution to manage and maintain such a system. I trust him implicitly. Fortunately, he also has the patience when my anxiety hits to roll his eyes and smile, gently encourage me, and explain (again!) how it works and what I can do to help.

The challenge for me is to let him build it, and as with a diesel motor, I need to go outside of my comfort zone and learn how it works and how to use it, albeit at a lower level of proficiency as he.

As we bid a fond "Fair winds and following seas" to our new friends Faith and Cindy as they pull away from the millionth dock for the millionth time, I will keep these brave ladies in my heart and mind as inspiration. If Faith and Cindy can do it, then so can I? I mean, so can I!

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