My name is Philip Nelson. I was born and raised on a grain farm in central Alberta, Canada, with wide open spaces, and many places to explore.
Growing up, I always yearned for adventure.
In grade 4 all I wanted was to race dirt bikes, in grade 6, an astronaut, in grade 9 through 12, a fighter pilot, after college, a race car driver. Now, I’ve never been to space, but I did race my brother and my school friends in the back 40 on my dirt bike, I did get my pilots license in grade 12, and I did race cars for a time after college. Each of those dreams stalled short of their end goal, but I did give them a solid effort, if perhaps misguided at the time. After college I held down a “real job”. The kind of job others convinced me was what I wanted, or more importantly, what I needed.
After 20 years working in the “real world” I learned what someone else thinks you need and what you actually need is not likely the same thing.
A little over 10 years ago, completely by chance, I took up sailing. My parents were taking a sailing course, and they asked if I’d like to come along, so I went. No expectations other than, it wasn’t work, and I needed a vacation. I couldn’t have imagined in that moment how sailing would affect me. The freedom sailing provided was captivating; moving solely by the power of the wind, going to any anchorage imaginable, anywhere in the world, many only accessible by boat. No motor whirring, no smell of exhaust. Just me and the wind… like Christopher Columbus or Captain Cook.
Unlearning North American society’s road map of how to live, work, and retire isn’t an easy one.
Like Noel Gallagher of Oasis said, “if you tell everyone you meet that you’re the greatest band in the world, half of them will believe you”. Similarly, if you hear every day of your life that a stable job with a good company and a retirement plan is what you need to be happy, you are likely to believe it. To date I’ve believed most things society has told me. And society isn’t necessarily wrong, but it is looking out for its own best interest. Stable jobs create stable economies which create stable governments.
That’s all great and everything, but like most CEO’s out there, I want more.
Don’t get me wrong. I‘ve been relatively fortunate in my career, compared to much of the world, and I’ve been able to afford a modest lifestyle due to my stable job. Being a gigillionaire would be great, but I’ve found over the years that most material goods only satisfy me for a few weeks, and then they’re just things that I have to take care of. With the exception of tools that is; something that can make something greater than itself. To me, that’s what a sailboat is. It’s a tool for me to explore the world; and through journalism, bring the world to the people, thus bringing people together, thus allowing me to create something greater than myself.
The reason there is so much conflict and hatred in the world isn’t because we are so different. It’s because we don’t realize how similar we really are.
Once we acknowledge the similarities, we will be able to embrace the differences. That takes an open mind and an open heart. If the world sees that someone else can do it, that one person can have a positive effect on another person, and that positivity can spread, they will begin to understand that they can do it too.
Great things all start with a single step forward, followed by another, and another.
We don’t all have to buy boats and sail away. Perhaps it’s as simple as encouraging people to start a conversation with the person next to them on the train, or simply exploring the world around them. Knowledge is power. The more we can learn and discover for ourselves, the more control we will have over our own destinies.