The Written Word

Finally Settling Down in the Florida Keys

Let’s start with the easy part … what are the Florida Keys? And why would one need to “settle” there? Well, let me give you an example.

Only 20 miles away on the mainland, cars hit the Florida Turnpike just short of light speed. They slalom, they tailgate, and they never use turn signals or show courtesy. They are the iconic “Miami Drivers”. But when you enter what is known as The Stretch, an 18 mile connecting road between there and the start of the Keys, things change. At least for the locals. There is this pale blue jersey wall that divides the lanes the entire way, and it somehow soothes you. Your shoulders come down. You start to relax. And as the scenery goes from everglades to water, by the time you reach the end your soul is as chill as chill can be. (Assuming the Miami Drivers didn’t delay the experience).

The Keys are exactly that … pure relaxation. We purposefully don’t allow many brand and box stores in, preferring to keep the Mom and Pop shops in business. There isn’t a lot of choice when it comes to where you spend your dollars, and honestly, you really don’t want accumulate stuff here anyway. Everything is about the water. Fishing, boating, diving, snorkeling … everything. Shoes are optional, flip-flops the norm. Alcohol is our basic food source. Life is indeed chill.

Sounds idyllic, right? And it is, except for when you have an active and searching soul.

I started looking at my Keys Life in the context of blogging and videos about a year ago. What would I share? What would I film? And once I managed a hypothetical script or two about water, booze, water, and water … I couldn’t come up with much more. Life here is to be lived, slowly, and doesn’t make for Good TV. Which ain’t bad, please don’t get me wrong. But for someone who created a YouTube channel with the tagline “Mastering The Second Half Of Life”, there isn’t much to master here. Except how to drive slowly and manage a hangover.

Here’s the thing … Keys Life intrigues me. I really enjoy waking up and deciding between a t-shirt and a t-shirt. I love watching the sunset with a beverage in my hand. But between that t-shirt and beverage, I’m bored snotless. Because I ain’t dead yet.

OK, that was a little extreme. The Keys do not equal death. Well, not exactly. You see, I now have even more of a sense of adventure than I did in my previous decades. I want to wake up every day wondering what new things await to be discovered. And then spending every moment between waking and my evening beverage in finding them. Hence my moving to Barcelona, Spain. For if you can’t find “interesting” there, then you did die on the trip over.

But this article isn’t about my future here and now. That’s for upcoming videos and stories. This post is about what I envision “after”.

At some point, this is probably going to get out of my system. This need to be bombarded with the novel and new. And if it does come to pass that I want to slouch back and just enjoy my memories, the Keys are most definitely a great place to find myself. I think I just came a decade or two too early.

My father made a comment last month when I was talking about my upcoming move to Europe. It started with “At your age, you had better …”. I know he meant that as a cautionary line, as in, when you’re pushing 60, you had better slow down. But after my initial eye roll and repressed urge to comment, I realized that I took it the opposite way. As in, when you’re pushing 60, you better get going faster because you’re going to run out of time long before you run out of experiences. And that is indeed the way I feel now.

I am in good health. It could be better, sure, and I’m working on it. (And an upcoming video is going to deal with that). But generally speaking, there isn’t a physical reason why I would need to be Keys-Slow right now. In fact, I would venture to say that this is the perfect time for me to be out running with scissors. I have a good 15-20 years ahead of me where I’m financially stable, physically healthy, have little in the way of responsibilities, and am blessed with a boundless bucket of curiosity. To overuse the old expression, “If not now, then when?”. Actually, I want to reverse that … “If not now, then never”. And that thought terrifies me more than just about anything else. I’m not ready to die (figuratively).

So … what happens when I am? Well, I have no idea. That far into the future, I cannot see. Settling … and I despise that word right now … in the Florida Keys could be a hoot. I would be active, drunk, and relaxed. I would be wet. And I would be able to ride out my remaining years in comfort. Only … my remaining years now far outnumber my current patience for staleness.

So, perhaps well after my father and his words of caution have long since gone from this mortal coil, I will look towards his lifestyle. With desire, perhaps. But for now, my life awaits. And I will make no apologies for my wants. My needs. My life. This is who I am.

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Captain Rick
Our dear Cap’n has been sailing the seas of life for 50-some years. Somewhere between impulsive and a stick-in-the-mud, he finds himself embarking on journeys that will either solidify his wandering ways, or give him a nervous breakdown. Come join him on his new adventures in moving pictures on YouTube at https://youtube.com/ThePirateWanderer.

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