I have no shore power this morning. I was looking forward to playing with my new space heater. I’ve also got my guitar on the boat now, which I haven’t played since impulsively adding it to the carload of stuff I brought back from my trip to Toronto two weeks ago. The dead power outlet and no Internet could be due to the strong winds last night. And continuing, the boat’s rocking and rolling, bumping the fender against the hull. Rhythm. There’s a small bungee hanging in the galley. It’s kind of like gyrating. Hard not to watch it; something compelling. If someone was in here using stimulants they’d go crazy, thinking that its twisting was aliveness. The clouds around Venus are in the news this week, with a story about the possibility of this being evidence of life. I reckon don’t hold your breath looking forward to a conversation with the extraterrestrial Venetians. Better to contemplate death instead. Contemplate existence. And just try looking for something around here that’s not somehow alive and/or totally mysterious.
I try to contemplate time, and it’s just different. Being a Buddhist with Taoist pretensions, I have recourse to teachings on death, existence, and mystery. The Buddha lived life as an inspiring exemplar. As did Jesus, and the whole panoply of mystics and cosmopoets. But reaching for a helping hand on the topic of time, from any of them, all you’ve got is their smiling faces. No reasoned and rational explanations. Take the topic of time to physics, philosophy, neuroscience, and psychology, and it’s all very interesting. Tending, however, to presentations deeply furrowed brows, frowning faces; and not much inspiration to my contemplations.
Sure, one can say “don’t know!” and reach for the temple bell, the guitar, the next thing. One can pretend to live in the present, plant a flag on some idea of what’s between five seconds ago and five seconds not yet, and imagine yourself watching it flow in the breeze. But just because there’s an awesome and compelling mystery of existence and absence, form and emptiness, doesn’t mean the everyday everything is subsumed in irrelevance. I’m still here, and so are you. I don’t know where we are, or when we are, but are we not still keen to learn how to live well. Are you with me on this? Despite that politics and popular culture would have us believe that reality is other people, typically just a very few other people, even that significant one and only other person. We, as a species among many, many species, in a world of infinite shades of green, we are all together facing existential threats and anthropogenic dystopias. The very small and very large are very very real, even if our only window on reality is our consciousness. Humans have survived ten thousand generations. If we were to be so lucky as to get another ten thousand, then, believe it or not, this generation we are in right now will be famous. We will be remembered for how we dealt with the fact of extinction, how we paid attention to the future. Forgetting is what we do more of than anything else, and ultimately each of us does it quite perfectly. Perfectly naturally and normally. Letting go is the way of personal happiness. But I reckon that people alive now should aim to be remembered. And if we are, it won’t be for being nice.
Orion surprised me in the sky this morning. My, my, the sky has changed since I got here on June tenth. And after several inclement mornings in a row, and then a couple windy days that have blown all the clouds away: It’s autumn! Frost on the ground, on cars and roofs, and this is the clearest sky I’ve seen in months. Orion, my old friend, I smile. Look for the others, and everybody but Polaris is sitting somewhere different from the last time the music stopped. But ohmygod the wind bites and blows upon my body, and I just have to say, even as I shrink with cold: “This is no flattery. These are counselors that feelingly persuade me what I am.” Sweet are the uses of such suffering as this.
A few hours later I am in Aragorn’s cabin and I’ve gone through the procedures to reconnect the electricity, and so now it’s warming up nicely. I’m keeping my vintage TNF fleece jacket on, and my Icebreaker merino hoodie, and my new Patagonia workwear coveralls, which are hemp and organic cotton. And I have worn these new coveralls every day this week, and still not a stain or scuff on them. Closest thing to work I’ve been doing is varnishing Pippin the dinghy’s seat and motor mount, which I could safely do in my off-white linen Armani suit. Which I just for fun should wear next spring when I put a coat on Aragorn’s brightwork. Make it a formal occasion, like. But no, for that outfit, because of the colour, the date would have to be after the Victoria Day weekend. True-blue yachtsman like me should hope to have varnishing done by then. That’s the weekend of the annual Sailpast. So, instead of the light linen, maybe the very nice grey mid-weight wool and silk blend. Single button, if I remember correctly. It’s a shade that’s somewhat, but not much, darker than my hair. I think it’s Italian. I hope so. Might be Dolce and Gabbana. But could be Hugo Boss. I’ve been using foam brushes, but perhaps, talking this way now, I should consider a good bristle brush of natural fibre: hog’s hair is highly regarded.
Hearing me talk this way now, a person would think I was planning for the future. When actually, I don’t have the faintest notion of what the coming months will bring. This week began with running scenarios that included and imminent sale of the Toronto house and purchase of something here, with my wife in a new job. Now it’s Friday, and that plan is history, and today: I’m focussing on this weekend’s races. This cozy and comfortable cabin, and the deck and rigging, all need to be prepped for action. Not for writing, posting, and playing guitar. Good chance I’ll get back to those landlocked things on Monday. And do I know how lucky I am to have the choice? You bet!
But right now I shall act on the good fortune of having been asked for help by a very nice older couple who need to un-step their mast. Season has definitely changed.