Brave Enough :: Thriving and Healing

When you recognize that you will thrive not in spite of your losses and sorrows, but because of them, that you would not have chosen the things that happened in your life, but you are grateful for them, that you will hold the empty bowls eternally in your hands, but you also have the capacity to fill them? The word for that is healing.
— Cheryl Strayed

It’s hard to say if I’d change anything about my path.

I wanted desperately to go to Waiakea High School and didn’t get a district exemption - so I had to go to my intended school - Hilo High School.  I had gone to Waiakea Elementary and Intermediate.  Thirteen year old Megan was devastated.  

Hilo High School turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I found a really cool group of girlfriends.  Friends that are my family today.  

I started surfing in the mornings before school and fell in love with the water.  To be clear I was always a water baby but the morning surf sessions made me think:  I want to do this always.

I found the canoe Makali’i.  It enraptured me.  I feel in love with navigation.  With the stars.  With the magic of the ocean and more importantly with the magic of getting from point A to point B on the ocean.

I went to Maine Maritime Academy - only because I didn’t know about California Maritime Academy.  Thank God.  I wouldn’t trade my time in Maine for anything.  

I got out of school and couldn’t find a job, so I sailed AB (able bodied seaman).  On a tanker in Alaska.  I learned how to work hard.  How to not complain about being cold because the evidence is in: everyone is cold.  I look back on those days as ‘baby Megan goes to sea’.  They’re precious.  I’m lucky I didn’t get a Third Mate’s gig right away.  Those AB days molded me.

I sailed tankers and reached a breaking point.  I knew I couldn’t go back.  I decided not to return without another gig lined up.  I ended up Chief Mate on a heavy lift.  Hallelujah.  I learned how to learn.  How to learn fast.  How to trust my shipmates.  How to motivate my shipmates.  How to let people be who they’re going to be.  I learned how to float.  I mean really, Hallelujah.

That ship got laid up and I was distraught.  Then I learned what it was like to really not have a job.  It was terrifying.  It built a sense of empathy that I had never even remotely possessed for the unemployed.  

With 300 bucks in my bank account and a mortgage payment due in 2 weeks - I reached out to friends.  I drove two days straight - walked into a brand new union hall and got a ship.  I was flipped.  Totally flipped.  Except, I had a safe place to sleep, my brakes got fixed by people who care, I found a job.  I learned that your people are your people.  Forever.  

I sailed out of the union hall for awhile.  It was okay.  I learned that being a nomad isn’t always all that it’s cracked up to be.  I also learned that it’s not as cheap as you’d imagine.  I had fun.  I travelled to new places.  I’d do it all again in a heartbeat but, it’s also nice to know exactly where your garlic press is.  

I decided to drive to Seattle and try my luck there.  The union hall was deader than a door nail in California.  Seattle wasn’t looking promising.  I was worried.  

After a year of ‘being nomad’ and shipping straight out of the union hall I was drained.  On a whim I sent my resume in to a tug and barge company.

Three days later I had an interview and four days after the interview I was flying to Japan to meet my first tug boat.  

I wouldn’t have chosen any of that but, I’m absurdly grateful for it all.  I’m just going to hold my empty bowl and work on filling it up.  It feels good.  I’m going with: feeling good = healing.  For all intensive purposes I’m thriving.  



After reading Cheryl Strayed's book Brave Enough I wrote responses to the quotes that resonated with me.  You can read more about why here.