But boats do bring us together. One way that strikes us today is in the desperate migrations of refugees escaping a ravaged and desertified North Africa and Middle East for the shores of Southern Europe. It’s eerie to see all those blocky, cheap orange life-vests, the kind we tend to associate with playing on the water, left abandoned in piles in their hundreds on the rocky shore of some Greek Isle….
Migration is nothing new. Throughout human existence people have moved about the globe in small boats of some kind. We just don’t expect to see it live on TV.
They say there are two kinds of people: Those who would only leave the shore out of desperation and those crazy few who do it for fun.
Yachting has been a way to insulate one from the other. Insulate the comfortable, seeking thrills, from the desperate, seeking refuge. Much of my Quixotic Enterprise has revolved around an attempt to find another way to honor a love of boats and the sea.
We are expected to fall for some form of pragmatism. We’re told that this position is too idealistic. That one too simplistic. Taken as a whole this furor is a sign of how fractured and devalued everything we hear through the loudspeakers of media has become.
This is a bankrupt time. The greatest sign of bankruptcy has always been a strident refusal of its victims to see the truth. How easy it is today for a hundred, a thousand, a myriad of conflicting excuses to bombard us with no concern for the the only truth behind all this noise being broadcast:
A path beyond such deep bankruptcy begins with a humble realization:
We don’t know how to make sense anymore….
The only coherent message is that no one is being coherent.
And, while there is a great show of alarm – everyone has their pets in this regard – there is no effective alarm, no coherent, expressed, engaged, response to the underlying bankruptcy of our time.
Boats, whether rafts and commandeered small craft loaded with refugees, or the trim yachts of the comfortably well-off, can just be regarded as mere vessels of escape.
We do take to the water to get away.
But, who actually succeeds? Who really does get away?
Refugees find their troubles follow them. Most land in limbo.
The Yachtsman? Does he escape?
Not what is bruited about in carefully dosed bromides: fantasies wrapped in sugarcoats. The kind of hand-waving, flag-waving, cheap-tear inducing incantations that inundate us.
A dearly paid-for benefit of this incoherent moment is that the cacophony of conflicting cries cancel each other out.
It takes a committed fool to continue to fall for any of them.
There is a hidden secret in all this. Most yachtsmen have some inkling of it. Most refugees have no idea. They’re too far gone. Too stressed….
What about those of us who are not yet at that point?
When we choose to go out on the water the shibboleths of life-on-land dissolve. If we resist we experience it viscerally as sea-sickness.
When we open our selves to its power we find we are navigating a fluid world, living in a dynamic interaction with what-is.
We find a way of acting that is not just another frightened and angry form of reaction.
This view of what boats can do is missing in those images of discarded life-jackets. Also missing from what’s on view in our marinas and waterways; crowded on a summer weekend by those trapped in frantic attempts to escape.
Even a relic of a traditional sailing craft reflects a glimmer of another, deeper relation to the sea and to each other. Any artifact of life on the water from before this time of universal corruption and collapse brings us a visceral feeling from an almost-lost heritage that connects us to something we still feel inside us.
When we connect with this possibility every interaction we have with any floating vessel, any boat, even a raft, in any capacity, at any level helps us discover an option to denial or escape.
This question is much abused today. Very little light actually being shed.
Boats help us here as well. Sharing an experience on the water is quite a distinct experience. No abstract concept, no -ism or belief, can touch it.
Wishing to be somewhere else: in a warm dry bed or beneath a quiet, rooted tree, instead of thrashing to windward against a squall; will not make it so.
Sharing these circumstances requires the active participation of everyone on board.
This kind of sharing is felt in its Quality not measured against some abstracted quantity.
Facing these questions directly and within the actual context of our lives, not in some grand abstraction, chasing some ideal; we begin to discover a course of action we could not imagine from our current position amid all the traps of confusion that surround us.
This can be so much more than bait intended to hook us into yet another exploitation….
*Incoherence is a fancy word for confused. When something does not hold together….
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