I live on a boat. Not a houseboat, a sailboat. It's 29 feet long, 9'4" at the widest point (outside measurement), and has overhead clearance of just barely 6' in the main cabin.
Since I'm less than 9' wide and 6' tall, this works for me.
A small boat is an unstable surface, shifting with every step and wiggle. You keep your balance by toning your abdominal muscles – as soon as you tighten your midsection, the wobbly feeling disappears, and even if the boat's surface is 30 degrees from horizontal, you can still keep your feet under you.
I have the strongest core of anyone I know who doesn't either live on a small boat or teach Iyengar yoga, because that's just how it works.
A friend of mine moved away and couldn't get rid of his even smaller boat (25' with rather less overhead clearance), so he sold it to me cheap. The main difference between his and mine is that the smaller boat has a larger engine and a thicker hull. It was designed to sail across the Pacific.
Now I have two boats. (That's COMMODORE Idiot, thank you very much.)
For various reasons, it's time to leave the Bay Area. I'll be returning part-time to rural Massachusetts, but I can't hack the cold season. It would be far cheaper and less painful to gnaw bits off me with a blunt and rusty saw. So I have to come up with some way to live and somewhere to be during the off-season.
Did I mention that I have a boat? ... In fact, two?
I'm discussing a boat-partnership with a friend of mine who is capable of the work, but hasn't found out if he really likes it yet. We're going to work on the boats this winter, getting them ready to sell; in the fullness of time, we'll know if we're cashing them in for an upgrade to sail towards the Equator in, or flogging them and splitting the money then going our separate ways.
The second option is easy, sensible, and well within my expectations and experience of life. Our friendship could easily continue intact.
The first is not necessarily any of those things. But the long-term benefit of it is that it would probably give me a second home to go to, somewhere warmer, with the comfort of a friendly face to greet me.
Some think that coming away with a sack of cash is more like stability. Having money reassures me in a way known only to those who've done without. It feels solid.
But what's the value of solidity? I'm used to ground that moves under my feet. Snug up your core, and it's easy to handle. And there's nothing like casting off and taking off, nothing over you but open sky, and your own home flying through the water with such poise that it makes even the cormorants faint with envy.
[IMG cormorant superflock on my birthday sail]
Stability might mean solidity. Or it could mean being able to balance different forces well. Which of these sounds more interesting? Even – or perhaps especially – when you aim to make each day as sparkly and intriguing as a handful of jewels?
[Just wait till I get the pictures up :)]