This is personal drivel, you have been warned. About 28 months ago I made a decision that I was going to buy and live aboard a narrow boat (me...a man of 6'3" was going to live inside a 57' metal tube). Great joke right?
I was seriously into the idea. It was the first thing I remember truly wanting. I made the decision back in April 2015, a few months later I wrote a little something about the idea.
It's funny how things change; a narrow boat isn't my dream any more. But for a long while I was very interested. I watched videos online, I read about peoples experience and I browsed ads for narrow boats almost daily. I saw beautiful boats come and go in my price bracket, and spent hours tracing canals across the country in google maps. I think it was nice to have such a special interest even if it didn't last forever.
I was so into the identity of 'future narrow boat owner' that I had a narrow boat illustration on my CV & business cards. Lame.
Why a narrow boat?
It was different. I think at the time I was a little bit lost, I didn't really feel like my life was heading in any given direction, but having a dream was something to latch onto. It also seemed like a daring idea, and as a typically shy individual I've always been attracted to daring ideas and individuals.
My idea that was living on a narrow boat would provide me with constant challenge and excitement, it would give me a better connection to a more exciting life. It would give me a better connection to the outdoors and nature.
At the time I had no real mobility. I couldn't drive, and didn't even own a bicycle. Thinking back that was pretty sad, and the concept of being able to move your entire house with 'ease' for work or pleasure was wildly attractive.
The tie in of having a narrow boat and living a minimalist lifestyle, and the cost savings associated were attractive. The prospect of avoiding council tax and mooring fees by continuously cruising (moving to a new part of the canal network every few months) was nice.
But overtime this desire faded. When people ask me why I'm no longer getting a narrow boat the answer is always pretty simple; I got a motorbike instead. From 4mph to 0-60 in under 3.3 seconds.
It took a while for it to dawn on me. But the things I wanted in a narrow boat I could find through other means. Having a narrow boat was not the only way to gain the same satisfaction.
I started riding a motorbike in June 2016, and almost right away I became a happier, more relaxed person. I had a sense of freedom and control that I hadn't really had before. I had the ability to take myself where I wanted, whenever I wanted.
Having a narrow boat was a gateway to future adventure and experience. But a motorbike can do that too. When I had the idea to get a motorbike it came as a sort of 'a-ha' moment and I wondered why I had never thought about it before. I got my adventure. I got my experiences. And the ability to take myself into remote, rural places I got my nature. I didn't realise it at first but it ticked a lot of boxes.
What did I learn?
You can't buy happiness but you can buy a motorbike and that's pretty close? I guess people always want more than one thing. They're often torn between different things they would rather be doing; at least when it comes to big life decisions. Plan for a wedding and spend thousands? Or use that money and go travelling for months? For many people both might sound appealing but in reality you have to choose one. Leave one job for another more appealing one, or sack it all off and take a sabbatical? Or do something else entirely?
The moral of the story? There isn't one...gotcha. This was just a little trip down memory lane for me; it's funny how life works out. I never imagined that having a motorbike would become so important for me, or that it would cure me of a dream narrow boat life in the process.
Maybe the moral could be; there's always deeper reasons behind the things you want and figuring those out helps you choose a more enjoyable, bigger life. And equally; because there's always multiple way to achieve your goals or live a happier life, maybe we all need to worry less and do new things more often.