Letter to a friend:
There’s nothing I have experienced that’s anything like being on a stormy ocean on a small boat, out of reach of all mankind, reliant totally upon self and the fickleness of the sea gods.
Not all the nations in the world with all their resources can do anything to affect the course of one boat out in the ocean when Nature, that uncaring and sublimely beautiful bitch, decides to wake and scream.
2 miles, 10 miles, 200 miles are all the same when you’re in it, when wave and wind work together to manifest all that is creative and awesome in the truest sense of the word, showcasing ancient forces unknown and unknowable to those not willing to risk their most precious asset.
There is no sound, no taste, no feel, no color to match the uncaring fury of Homer’s ancient wine-dark sea. Nothing. Having that memory as mine I cherish it, nurture it, look in on it cradled in the cloak of my mind like my own yellow white candle of intense experience when I wonder, “Have I lived?”
“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest.”
Any kind of unrest, the uncertainty, the unknowing of the outcome has proven to me to be the key to a meaningful voyage. Storming up a pass in Patagonia, sailing through heavy weather, even out on those long runs when the Muses decide to smile with their terrible brilliance, to ask with flashing eyes and sharp teeth of steel for more than you think you have to give, when you just don’t know if you have it, when there’s no guarantee for greatness, when you have to reach and fail and reach again to leave this plane of experience for the next.
That moment of flight, that moment when the breaks turn your way, when the energy starts to run through you, when the follicles swell and the hair stands erect, skin crawling, lungs stretching and expanding, legs strong and unstoppable, feeling the strength flow through you from the sky, that’s the moment of physical reassurance that you’re still alive.
Reaching that, that moment, never seems to come from a state of knowing, a state of confidence that all will be well. Remembering that uncertainty is necessary for inner victory we each pursue it in our own way; combat, physical action, mental peregrinations, all are built on the base of unknowing so important to the human condition of fleeting satisfaction followed by unfulfillment.
We live incomplete in order to enjoy all the more those ephemeral moments of satori gained by our own efforts, knowing that it can’t, it won’t, it shouldn’t last. It’s why we do what we do, and it’s awesome in its simplicity and impermanence.
“[The wise man] does not have to walk nervously or cautiously, for he has such self confidence that he does not hesitate to make a stand against fortune and will never give ground to her.
He has no reason to fear her, since he regards as held on sufferance not only his goods and possessions and status, but even his body, his eyes and hand, all that makes life more dear, and his very self; and he lives as though he were lent to himself and bound to return the loan on demand without complaint.
Nor is he thereby cheap in his own eyes because he knows he is not his own, but he will in act in all things as carefully and meticulously as a devout and holy man guards anything entrusted to him.
And whenever he is ordered to repay his debt he will not complain to fortune, but he will say, “I thank you for what I have possessed and held. I have looked after your property to my great benefit, but at your command I give and yield it with gratitude and good will.
If you want me still to have anything of yours I shall keep it safe; if you wish otherwise I give back and restore to you my silver, both coined and plate, my house, and my household.
Should Nature demand back what she previously entrusted to us we shall say to her too: Take back my spirit in better shape than when you gave it. I do not quibble or hang back: I am willing for you to have straight away what you gave me before I was conscious–take it.” What is the harm in returning to the point from whence you came?”
-Seneca, On the Shortness of Life.
Love especially the “Take my spirit in better shape then when you gave it.” Such a great way to live, and look at life.