Years ago, I bought a sailboat. It had a diesel engine in it. This was probably the last thing I was thinking about when I bought the boat. As a sailor, I wanted to race the boat. Not big races like the Newport to Bermuda race or anything like that; mostly the Tuesday night races held at the club during the summer. With my newly purchased boat I envisioned a racing life of clever tactics, enduring speeds (for a sailboat anyway), and brilliant strategies my first year racing. I never got any of them. The boat I bought was nice, but it was 20 “something” years old, and not so well mechanically maintained. Boat years are like the proverbial dog years; they wear exponentially. When I started my “boatwright” skills, I knew nothing about diesel engines, fresh water systems, or marine carpentry. I do now. In the last 15 years, I have spent more than a fair amount of time working on my diesel engine. In the end, what did I really learn? I learned I like it. Life is strange that way. If I had told myself that I wanted to know more about diesel engines for the sake of knowing, I would have never “gotten around to it,” an offshoot of necessity is the mother of invention. Over the years, I did race my boat and I got better at that as well, but in a jam, my diesel skills are far more cherished than my tactical skills. Tactical skills are good, but they never carried me safely through a squall.
In an odd twist of geography and current events, I would hear news stories and segments on the radio concerning Myanmar. As the talk of the former Burma went on, I would think to myself that I should know more about this country, or be able to locate it on a map instantly. I could not at the time, but I can now. Sound familiar? Because of my engine, I always at least knew the pronunciation of the country, which is not always the case. Somehow I felt connected to this country, and found it easy to learn more about it. I like to stay up on current events, but it’s not always so easy to do as time is precious, and as the world becomes “smaller” there is more to keep track of.
I like to think of life as a connect the dots game. If I try to connect all the dots at once, its overwhelming, but if I do it as a few dots at a time, I learn more, appreciate more, and by all means find other dots to move me along in life; My Yanmar, diesel engine, skills, geography, history, human rights, Myanmar.
These dots of life take some strange turns, but if it’s good enough for M-M, It’s good enough for A-Z.