|Sockdolager with flags a-flyin!|
This is a shout-out to our friends and readers. You readers whom we haven’t yet met are simply future friends. Thanks from the bottom of our hearts for all the wonderful comments and emails, and for sticking with us through high seas and low times as we crossed the Pacific. You rock!
|About an hour before we left Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for the Marquesas in French Polynesia|
As we round the upper left corner of the country and think about the 10,500 miles we’ve sailed since leaving Port Townsend in mid-July of 2011 (which does not count the 6,000 miles from New Zealand to San Francisco via container ship) it's given us the perspective that the world is both larger and smaller than it seemed when we set out.
The case for the world feeling larger? Seeing the endless horizon for days on end, its flatness making tactile comprehension of the earth’s roundness almost impossible. Witnessing the darkest, starriest skies on earth, as only the mid-Pacific can give you. Nights and nights and nights of stars, to infinity. Not seeing one airplane, jet contrail or ship for thousands of miles. At times we felt, literally, like a planktonic organism, alone and drifting across the vastness of the sea, self-contained in our own tiny world.
To be at sea is to be afloat, adrift, abroad, astray, aweigh, amorphous—and at large. We were surrounded by the majesties of light and dark, searing heat and cool breeze, sunrise, high noon and sunset, the moon in phases, the sun and clouds, lighting and darkening the sea. Billions of years of this celestial procession have passed before us, will pass after us. We are, in comparison to that, motes of dust that settle for a time, flitting, floating, fluctuating, and then we blow away.
The case for the world feeling smaller? The idea that we can jump on the boat in Port Townsend and sail anywhere in the world makes the world seem that much more reachable.
|About a minute after we anchored after crossing the Pacific.|
We have plowed tangible wakes in our minds now; we have sensate memories all the way to New Zealand. We have crossed the Pacific Ocean in, ya gotta be kiddin’ me, a 24-foot boat. We have streamers of other peoples’ dreams fluttering off the taffrail, and through this blog we’ve been able to keep in close touch with friends and family. We didn’t sail off the edge and disappear.
Sometimes the world feels larger and smaller at the same time. Why is that? In a word, people. Everywhere we went, with everyone we met, we found that they’re just like us in so many ways—the universal currency of a smile works wherever you go—but they’re also different in ways that show us what we’ve lost. The common decency of perfect strangers, for example, who climb trees to pluck fruit that they give to you with pleasure, refusing any payment from a visitor who has a thousand times more wealth than they do. Monetary wealth, that is. I know who the real billionaires are, they’re the quiet welcoming ones living lives close to the bone, to the rhythm of the waves and tides and chirping of insects in trees, in communities like big families, like tribes, honoring the things that need and deserve to be honored. Things that can’t be bought. That’s why the fruit is sometimes free, it’s a lesson to us Westerners who think that everything has a price. I want to be more like them. A lot of sailors do, I think. A world like that lets you breathe deeper.
But when you travel on airplanes, highways, the internet, or read about giant swaths of ancient lands going under the axe, the bulldozer, the pipeline, the endless tarry spills, or the mighty Pacific having a garbage patch, you realize that the hype of corporate conceit is so big that not even the earth can hold it, and then the world feels not just smaller but also diminished. It feels bad when you realize how it can be used up, that it is being used up, that our generation is key to the next seven, and that we might fail them.
But then the world can feel larger again, when you realize we haven’t completely destroyed it yet, that there are things we can each do, things that aren’t just token gestures, that there are mysteries and creatures and galaxies completely unknown to science whose stories haven’t yet begun to echo, that there is probably personal growth in store that we can’t begin to imagine. Immense things can be fragile, and fragile things can be immense. Like this beautiful blue planet.
May you also wander on wings, in whatever form they may be, that take you outside of yourself.
The water is wide. I cannot get o'er
And neither have I wings to fly
Give me a boat that can carry two
And both shall row my love and I.
|A beach on the Tasman Sea|