by Ray Jason…
A cold front has lost its bearings and meandered all the way down to the Banana Latitudes. The evening chill is quite refreshing. In a celebratory gesture, I light AVENTURA’S kerosene lamps. Normally, they heat up the boat too much when I am south of the Tropic of Discontent. But tonight … they are perfectissimo!
The warm, amber light is so different from the sterile, blue, fluorescent lamps that I use most of the time. It not only illuminates, but it also pleases the senses with its gentle flicker and its subtle smokiness. It enriches the already magical beauty of my little ship’s small, tidy cabin.
The dark, gorgeous mahogany wood shimmers. The polished brass barometer gleams. The white, glossy bulkheads sparkle. The stained-glass red rose that decorates the liquor cabinet, takes on a richer hue. The stainless steel trim on the miniature fireplace shines.
Directly opposite me is part of my excellent ship’s library. Nearby is a shelf with my collection of about 50 classic films. The galley pantry is full of delicious, healthy foods. In the forward cabin is a rack for my champagne flutes and my gorgeous Japanese sake set is secured in a padded locker. A life of un-tethered travel and freedom combined with simple creature comforts. I seek no more than this.
As my eyes continue to savor the honey-golden glow of the cabin, my sailor’s ears detect something different in the sound tapestry. It rapidly swells from muted to dramatic as a tropical deluge thunders into the bay. A powerful swirl of wind heels little AVENTURA over about 20 degrees and then she eases back up to vertical. It reminds me that my sea gypsy sweetheart is not just lovely – she is strong.
There were times when conditions out on the Wide Waters were so fierce and frenzied that all I could do was cower below and hope we would survive the tempest. The rugged Aries self-steering vane kept us on course and the deeply-reefed sails propelled us along like an above-water torpedo. Some nights were so utterly demonic and terrifying, that I had to subdue my fear with shots of rum. But AVENTURA never failed me as she sheltered me through long, furious hours where dawn seemed as elusive as a fool’s dream.
AVENTURA is the Spanish word for Adventure. And every single time that I have cleared into a Latin American country, the Port Captain would read that name in my ship’s papers, slowly look up at me … and smile! For if there were ever two perfect mates they would be a Sailing Boat and Adventure.
Dolphins showing me a moon-bow in the far Pacific … a century-old lighthouse flashing out a course to safety after a storm-flung passage … a mid-ocean rendezvous with a fellow solo sailor … sharing sublime romance with some of the exquisite women in my life – far from the tribulations of the misnamed Real World. All of these and so much more have been bequeathed me by my mistress of the sea.
One of AVENTURA’S greatest gifts has been her ability to shelter me from world weariness – or more accurately from what I call “Humanity Fatigue.” Early in my teens I already knew that my temperament would be both a blessing and a curse. Some impulse had been seeded within me that urged me to understand Life as deeply and honestly as possible.
Thoreau helped spark this with his non-conformist encouragement to follow one’s own drummer. I once made a pilgrimage to Walden Pond and sat for hours by the foundation of his tiny cabin. I probably looked like a fool to the other visitors that day, but I was trying to become philosophically drunk on his love for learning and Life. When I returned to my little ship, I measured her interior dimensions and was delighted to learn that I was making my own attempt to decode the world in a space almost the same size as his little house.
I firmly believe that a well-lived human life is a voyage towards Awakening. But as one expands their awareness, they are also likely to increase their disillusionment. Because with careful examination, the vast foundational institutions that supposedly help us and nourish us, are revealed to be tragically fraudulent.
Government does not serve the wishes of the people. It expands and consolidates the power of those ruthless enough to acquire high office. Churches do not care about the spiritual and temporal health of their flocks. They prefer to dominate and fleece them. Education does not encourage critical thinking. It is just sophisticated vocational training so that the machines can be operated. The Media goliaths do not inform us and expand our horizons. Instead, they narrow our perspectives and breed hive-mind. The police are no longer the friendly cops on the beat. They have morphed into Kevlar-coated storm troopers.
Almost every aspect of human society is dysfunctional and obscene. And yet how do people react to these appalling aberrations – with APATHY. As long as they can have 200 channels of Distractovision … as long as the drones are attacking people somewhere “over there” … as long as they can stay connected to their 847 Facebook “friends” through their iSlave devices … then they will not resist the cultural death march towards Insaneistan.
With such a pessimistic – or in my opinion “realistic” – appraisal of modern civilization, one might expect that I spend my days wallowing in Despair. But in fact, my life is mostly happy and meaningful. And AVENTURA is the reason for this paradoxical contentment.
Every time the Humanity Fatigue weighs too heavily upon me, I sail away from it all. Out on the Wide Waters there is no human presence. My only companions are the creatures of the Sea and the Sky. It is all so elemental and enormous. The great winds, the towering clouds, the vast dome of the night sky, the staggering grandeur of it all – replenishes me like an oasis of the soul.
So, thank you, AVENTURA, my little ship, for your many blessings. And most especially for helping me to escape when the tribulations of land life were too overwhelming. You have cocooned me magnificently with your beauty and strength every single time that I needed the healing waters of Mother Ocean.
For Jason Ray’s blog THE SEA GYPSY PHILOSOPHER click here.