Wednesday, November 20, 2013


by Ray Jason

Time shimmers past differently for a long-distance sailor.  The daily markers that are so familiar in the real world do not exist out on the Wide Waters.  There is no breakfast with the family or racing off to school or leaving for work.  There is only the subtle curve of the horizon, the enveloping water, and the on-looking sky.  Occasionally a wild sea creature flies past or emerges from the depths, but mostly it is an immensity of space and an undulating flow of time. 
Thus, my decades as a sea gypsy have gently distorted my sense of how swiftly the years thunder by.  So I was totally blindsided last week when I realized that the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy was approaching.  That horror bludgeoned me in my youth.  It was the first time that I really had to deal with mortality.  That was my initial taste of the bitter randomness of death – of someone being vibrantly alive and then gone forever.  
Like so many other young people, I was inspired by JFK and hoped to one day follow his lead in sculpting a better world from the clay of our democracy’s political institutions.  My grief then was overwhelming and personal – my hero had been viciously gunned down.  But as the decades ebbed and flowed, my sense of loss widened and intensified.  Yes, I had lost a role model, but the planet had lost a visionary and a healer. 
What haunts me the most is that brilliant speech that he made before the United Nations when he offered the olive branch of Peace during one of the most incendiary stages of the Cold War.  When I watch that footage and see him accepting the applause from the General Assembly after he offers to lead a campaign for total world disarmament, a heart-breaking realization assaults me.  He already knew!  There is a nobility and resignation in his body language that seems to imply a foreknowledge that the bullets had already left the guns and were headed his way.  He probably understood that by speaking those peace-seeking words, he was signing his own death warrant.   But he spoke them anyway - boldly and poetically - because he knew that sometimes Right must defy Might.

Friday, November 8, 2013


by Ray Jason

There is no calendar aboard AVENTURA, and I often lose track of what day it is.  Actually, down here - south of many borders - the seasons are so similar to each other, that I often lose track of what month it is!  But I always know when it is Sunday.  That’s because a veritable armada of cayucos will stream by my boat on their way to church.
A few weeks ago one passed very close, and as always, I waved with neighborly enthusiasm.  Seven or eight of the kids waved back just as vigorously.  But there was one young, teen-aged girl who responded differently.  Apparently she had never been so close to one of these sailing boats, and she studied it carefully.  I watched her gaze drift from bow to stern and then from the waterline to the top of the mast.  Then she noticed my boat’s name which is the Spanish word for “adventure.”          
With the cayuco only 10 feet away, I delighted in seeing her happy smile as visions of travel, freedom and exotic elsewhere’s danced in her head.  But swiftly her face changed, and I witnessed something that a man in his Middle Years never wishes to see in the eyes of someone so young.  As she looked directly up at me, I watched as her youthful joy was suffocated by despair.  There was surrender in that look - the realization that her dreams for a life that could cross over the borders of her birth, might never be achieved.  
This experience touched me so deeply that I created this little story, which tries to depict what she is experiencing at this threshold moment in her life.  And even if this tale is not accurate in the case of this young woman, it surely is for someone else her age – and probably for many, many others out there who also feel caged by the circumstances of their birth.