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  • Writer's pictureParker Hewes

Practicing Gratitude When Your Whole Life Might Crash and Burn

Written on 5/14/2023

Morning views from the deck of Come What May

Come What May...And Love It. That's the name of the 52-foot catamaran that I'm about to call home for the next month and a half. But after what we just went through, last night might be the only night we spend on her.

The boat, our home, belongs to my friend's parents. The four of us are staying in Hanalei Bay, Hawaii, before my friend, his dad, and I set sail across the Pacific Ocean towards Kodiak, Alaska. Today, we decided to explore the island on foot since we will not touch land for another 3 weeks. Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of Kauai, was our destination.

Hanalei Bay, our home for a week before setting sail. The movie, Soul Surfer, was filmed in this bay.

Plopping into the inflatable dingy attached to the sailboat, we coasted to the shoreline about 500 yards away from where we dropped anchor. The rental car was waiting for us on a side street that had the softest grass you've ever felt. Like a combination of moss and crabgrass, it felt like stepping on a sponge and yet it never seemed to grow more than a few centimeters tall (that's my kind of lawn). Eager to get to the canyon, I resisted pressing my face into the luscious bed of greenness to take a nap. Instead, we ducked into the car for an hour and a half drive to the other side of the island. Well, we thought it would only take that long, but on a island of only 75,000 people, we somehow hit stop and go traffic on the way. As it turns out, tree trimming is a very important job in a place where plants seem to never stop growing. And today, the tree trimmers ruled the road. We were in no hurry, so it was all the same to us. Although, I raised a sceptacle eyebrow to some of the arborists after we waited 45 minutes just to drive past a five-foot log on the ground while four men in neon vests stood around staring at it (neither of them holding a chainsaw, axe, or pair or gloves in their hands).

We were so close to Waimea, in fact we just turned into the town from which the canyon was named. Music was bumping and excitement was building. Then, over the sounds of us belting out the Tarzan soundtrack (in Spanish), we heard Siri say, "Call from, Unknown Caller." Brian, the dad, picks up the phone as we lower the volume and continue a conversation at a respectful decibel. Brian hangs up. In the most plain and ineffectual tone, he says "well, apparently the boat is floating away." SCREEECH. With no warning at all, Jaromy, my friend, careens off the road and whips a U-turn, barely checking to see if there were any cars behind us (and surely ripping up some luscious 'crabmoss' in the process).

For those of you that don't know much about boats, this boat isn't one of those little skippers you see in a marina. This is a yacht with sails, and it has been Brian and Teresa's home for the last four years. Needless to say, if there's a chance that your retirement was floating into the open ocean, or towards an unwinnable fight against a cliff, you would be frantic, too. But Brian was surprisingly calm in this moment. In fact, he suggested that we see the canyon anyway. "We're so close to the canyon, and if it takes us over two hours to get home, the damage will be done already by the time we get there." Fair point I guess, but in the end, we decided to make our way back to the boat.

As expected, we ran into traffic again, but the stop and go was much worse in this direction. Meanwhile, Brian was getting calls from one unknown number after the other: the harbor master, the fire department, the lifeguard, the coast guard, and other sailboat owners in the bay. Even the coast guard in Honolulu, two islands away, called to check in and share the news. Again, Brian remained calm. "I just can't believe the boat would be dragging or adrift right now. I have 100 yards of chain out in the water and a top-of-the-line anchor attached to it. The boat breaking loose would be so unlikely, but I guess stranger things have happened."

Jaromy, on the other hand, was zigzagging through traffic and practically driving in the ditch in order to make it home faster. When we spotted a cop ahead, we promptly halted our shenanigans and nonchalantly squeezed back into the traffic line. But that didn't stop us from running up to the police cruiser to ask for an escort. The policeman unfortunately declined, saying he could lose his job if it wasn't life or death. But he did give us his personal phone number as we added him to our entourage of agents on the case.

At this point, the calls continued to roll in one after the other, but we still were unsure what was actually happening to the boat. Is the anchor dragging on the ocean floor? Has the boat broken loose and is floating adrift? Is it floating towards the sea or the shore? Could it be that the wind shifted direction and the boat is just swinging on the abusively long amount of chain that we let out? After all, the ocean floor was only 35ft where we dropped anchor, and we let out 100yds of chain. That's over 250ft of radius that the boat could move in the water before the anchor engages. This was Brian's theory, but enough people were telling the adrift or dragging story that there was real concern for danger. Also, we didn't find this out until later, but Brian didn't have insurance on the boat. Apparently boat insurance doesn't cover excursions across the ocean (I can hear you asking, "why wouldn't insurance cover that? Isn't the purpose of a sailboat to sail it places?" Insurance is dumb. That's all you need to know).

Basically, Brian had plenty of reasons to freak out. But literally every phone call he got on, we could hear him laughing and joking around with the person on the line. He would frequently hang up, take a breath, and say, "I am just so grateful for the amount of people who are stepping up to help with this."

...What?... Who are you? How are you not freaking out right now?

Incredible. Despite the roller coaster of emotions, from extreme worry to having our minds at ease, everyone remained grateful, pleasant, and positive. It was a lesson in what the boat stands for: 'Come What May and Love It.' And during one of the calmer moments of the car ride, I asked Jaromy's mom, Teresa, what the name means to her (she named the boat, so she must have some idea). Essentially, what she told me is that you have a choice. No matter what happens, you get to choose how you respond. Will you respond with grace, remaining thankful for what you have? Or will you respond chaotically, negatively, or aggressively?

You have a choice. No matter what happens, you get to choose how you respond. Will you respond with grace, remaining thankful for what you have? Or will you respond chaotically, negatively, or aggressively?

Even in a moment when their entire lifestyle could crumble against the side of a rock like a piece of paper, Brian and Teresa were smiling. It allowed me to stay calm, too, and that proved something to me. When you display control over your attitude and mindset and choose to proceed with grace and gratitude, you positively influence those around you as well. By choosing to love whatever moments come your way, even the unlovely times will become pleasant memories.

By choosing to love whatever moments come your way, even the unlovely times will become pleasant memories.

It's a beautiful lesson from a few everyday people just like you and me. But they've learned to embrace this mindset and they are now living the life of their dreams. That's what Getting Gooder stands for, too. No matter what may be, love it anyway.

Thankfully, the boat was just fine. Brian's theory was right, the boat was simply swinging on a long line of chain. But, as crazy as it sounds, I think they'd still be smiling even if they found their home splintering against the rocky shoreline. That's just the kind of people they are, and it's beautiful.

Come What May and Love It.


Written by Parker Hewes, a chiropractor, author, American Ninja Warrior, and serial adventurer living in Salt Lake City, Utah. Parker believes learning and growing are the keys to living a full life. He started Getting Gooder to help others learn and grow, so they can create the happiest, healthiest, and wealthiest lives imaginable.

Parker also knows that our ideal life gets even better when we have others to share it with. So, keep following Parker and the Getting Gooder community as we build our ideal, together.

1 Comment

Jun 10, 2023

Love it Parker. I hope to meet your inspirational friends soon! Tell them thank you for passing on a great way to live!

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