Recently, I was regaling a couple who made the mistake of engaging me in a conversation about the Shanti with all of the hardships we’ve endured since we moved aboard back in August. The terror of hurricanes, the bitterness of the recent ice storm, the toll of 120° temperatures in the summer, the uncomfortable sleeping conditions, the inconvenience of normally mundane activities like cooking, cleaning, and making a midnight trip to the bathroom.
I didn’t forget to mention one of the perks: a re-engineered bitch point.
When I was living comfortably in a two bedroom apartment with a view of the Mardi Gras Day parades and a short walk to restaurants and grocery stores, I was much more easily annoyed. Termite swarms annoyed me – and that’s reasonable (and unchanged) – but so did slow drivers and being interrupted during a Netflix binge. All kinds of minor inconveniences irritated me, including but not limited to: food smackers, feet draggers, long traffic lights, and excessive hashtag usage.
My menagerie of pet peeves was enough to spoil any day before it had even gotten started, but the Shanti has reset my bitch point – the point at which I will begin to complain relentlessly about some real (or more likely imagined) injustice that has been dealt me.
During the recent freeze, when we were all piled into Fain’s tiny berth, the cramped quarters and cold were pretty rotten, but my first thought wasn’t about the unfairness of it all. My first thought was: Some people have to live like this every day. Some people never have a chance to experience anything more comfortable. In a few months, things will be better for us, and that makes me incredibly lucky.
And that was that.
As it turns out, life without substantial hardship was more difficult for me because I became so accustomed to it that I felt I was owed continuous, uninterrupted comfort. That’s pretty much setting yourself up for a life of unhappiness. When you believe you’re owed contentment, every disruption to that state is a personal affront. When your bitch point is food smackers and slow traffic lights, you’re bound to spend more time being frustrated than not.
On the flip side, when you’ve acclimated yourself to a life that’s a little more challenging, your bitch point finds a new level. You find yourself spending more of your energy on identifying the things that are going right than reacting to the things that are going wrong.
Don’t get me wrong.
A lot of bitching happens aboard the Sea Shanti. We complain. Often. But the quality of our complaints has improved and so has our capacity to find the silver lining in the storm clouds.