This is the conclusion of my short trilogy dealing with the Sea Gypsy Tribe in a post-Apocalyptic scenario. In order to understand it, I would encourage you to take a few minutes and read my two prior installments entitled The Stranger Arrives and The Shattering. Just scroll down the page and they await you.
Hello again, Stranger. Our medical volunteers have informed me that yesterday, for the first time since your arrival, you were able to speak. That delighted our tribe immensely. However, we were even more pleased to learn that the first words that you uttered were “Thank you.”
I was also told that your efforts to communicate seemed very painful. So the medical staff asked me to discourage you from trying to speak until the wound below your jaw has healed more completely. As for your efforts to write with that broken right hand of yours, we again urge you to be patient. However, your attempts with your left hand have brought considerable amusement to all of us. One nurse describes your scribbling as a cross between Japanese and Thai with a slight hint of Brooklyn.
In a few hours our Midsummer Revelries will begin. They might be characterized as a sort of Renaissance Faire that “went live.” Many of us attended such festivals during our “prior lives,” but none of us imagined that we would one day experience them not as a make-believe entertainment but as an authentic ritual of sharing and community.
It will begin with a ceremony called “The Winding of the Clock.” Time is an important but paradoxical issue for the Pelican/Slocum Sea Gypsy Tribe. On the one hand we greatly admire the way that indigenous people ignore mathematical time and abide by the rhythms and cycles of Nature. But as a clan of sailors, we also value exploration and horizon quest, which requires precise time-keeping.
When the GPS system was destroyed during The Shattering, we suddenly became dependent on celestial navigation. Fortunately, several of us had retained this skill, but it requires an accurate time piece in order to calculate longitude. The captain of the beautiful schooner in our fleet is a traditionalist, and so he uses an old U.S. Navy chronometer that he rewinds each day at noon. To open the festivities he stands before us and ceremoniously winds his old navigation clock. After he has done so, he exclaims, “Time is good, time is bad, time IS!” And then, with our best Renaissance Faire enthusiasm, we all yell “Huzzah! Huzzah! ”
Next comes “The Great Juggle.” We deliberately position this event early in our celebration because almost everyone in the tribe participates. One important element of our survival success was the fact that we viewed physical fitness not as a luxury, but as a necessity. And so we encourage juggling, which is both excellent exercise and great fun. It combines co-ordination, flexibility, discipline, balance, concentration and most importantly – laughter! Almost everyone in the tribe, who is older than a toddler, is involved and many types of juggling are displayed. Besides the individual skills, there are large club passing formations and great cheering when they successfully complete a difficult sequence.
But there is no fire used during The Great Juggle. That is saved for later in the evening. After "The Recitation of the Code," the young person delivering it lights a ceremonial flame that is then used to ignite the torches of a half a dozen jugglers who enthusiastically run down to the beach and present a dazzling routine as the drums roar and the tribe cheers them on.
For their finale, they all dive into the water, thus extinguishing the flames. It is a ritual that symbolizes our reverence for the Old Ways because all four of the essential elements are united. The Fire is dancing in the Air while the jugglers stand on the sandy Earth and then plunge into the Water.
Besides the planned events, there is also spontaneity. For instance, last year during our archery contest, someone placed a young coconut in a net bag and suspended it from a tree. It was then swung from side to side making a far more challenging target. Each bulls-eye was greeted with a roar of applause and a geyser of coconut water - which did not get wasted.
There are lots of other games and simple but fine food and drink, so just enjoy whatever catches your fancy. But again, please remember that you are still recovering from grave injuries, so enjoy the festivities cautiously. In particular, I urge moderation when it comes to sampling our coconut wine. As our current Spokesperson, I have many duties today, so you might not see me again until The Recitation of the Code. When you hear the drumming begin near sunset, just follow the sound to where everyone, except our lookouts, will be gathered.
Welcome, my beloved brothers and sisters of the Pelican/Slocum Sea Gypsy Tribe to this year’s finale of our Midsummer Revelries. Our first obligation – and joy – is to welcome the newborn to our tribe. And this year, for the first time, we are celebrating the birth of twins! Cindy and Ricardo, please stand up and hoist high those beautiful babies. Ah ha, I see you have bundled them in our tribal colors of blue and green. Bravo!!! I believe I speak for all of us when I say that we were both delighted and amused by the names you chose for your new sons. And so, let us have a roar of applause as we formally welcome Aldous and George to our Pel/Slo family.
As we do the Pass Around of the new babies, I will take this opportunity to formally salute the Stranger who unexpectedly joined us a few weeks ago. Even though we know so little about him that we don’t even know his name, we certainly admire his fortitude for just surviving the injuries that he sustained and the emotional trauma that must have accompanied them. We look forward to his day of healing when he can share with us his name, his story and his news of the other world. As is our custom with significant events, I have composed a haiku to mark the occasion:
A stranger arrives –
wounded and mute, he speaks with
the language of eyes.
And now it is time to introduce the lovely young woman who will be delivering this year’s Recitation of the Code. Because we all bore witness to how swiftly the tools for preserving knowledge vaporized, we recognize the importance of verbally conserving our tribal wisdom. So each year as the climax of our Midsummer Revelries, one of our young people recites our Code which they have memorized. This event is also a rite of passage for that individual in which they reveal their newly chosen name. In their early teens, each of our youngsters gets to select a tribal name to complement their family name. Melinda, who is our honoree and speaker this evening, is also noted for her excellence in celestial navigation. We have 5 adults who have mastered this skill, but she is the only teen that has done so. Therefore it is fitting that as her tribal name she has chosen … drum roll, please … Melinda Starpath.
Ah ha, I can see that the old hippies amongst us seem to be applauding this choice with particular enthusiasm. Perhaps that is because you recall those days from the 60s and 70s when you christened so many of your children with names like Moonbeam and Dragonfly.
Melinda, I realize that you are probably a little bit nervous, but please be at ease. Most of us already know the Code; so you do not have to recite it perfectly. I am sure you will deliver it magnificently – just enjoy the process and this wondrous occasion.
Dear brothers and sisters of the Pelican/Slocum Sea Gypsy Tribe, I stand before you to speak words that most of us already know by heart. But even though they are not new, we treasure them - because they are a statement of our Core Wisdom.
The horrors of The Shattering proved that humanity made some dreadful wrong turns along the road of history. The worst of these was when they stopped perceiving themselves as members of the living kingdom and started viewing themselves as separate and superior beings. They arrogantly believed that they should have dominion over all other life and even over the entire biosphere. In their toxic pride they believed that they need not abide by the Laws of Nature and could even transcend them. Instead of recognizing that they were a strand in the web of life they proclaimed that life was a pyramid with humanity at the pinnacle. Such foolish omnipotence led to the wasteland of death and desolation that now shrouds so much of our planet.
At its inception, our tribe established three core directives, which are to Survive to Thrive and to Strive. And what we strive for is a new vision of humanity which will not repeat the mistakes of our predecessors. We realize that there are probably other pockets of human survivors scattered about our smoldering planet, who will try to resurrect a living arrangement similar to what prevailed just before The Descent and The Shattering. We believe this is a serious and suicidal mistake. Therefore we have codified principles that we believe will avoid such a fate.
These are those core values. This is our Code:
Amazement is the foundation of our worldview. Look to the West at the amber glory of the sunset. Cast your eyes on the turquoise waters beside us. Look heavenward in another hour at the billions of stars. They are even more desolate and destroyed than our wounded planet. So we must rejoice that at least there is still Life amidst the ruin. And if we behave wisely, our grandchildren’s grandchildren may once again witness abundance.
Hierarchal societies become horrible societies. Tribal societies are small bands where everyone knows each other and they work together for the benefit of the clan. There are no rulers and ruled, no rich and poor, no inequality between the sexes, no chiefs living in splendor while everyone else lives in squalor. But hierarchal societies suffer from all of these injustices. And despite the false propaganda, those who rise to power in such systems are not “the best and the brightest.” In fact, they are the most ambitious, ruthless and despicable. They create dominator cultures that hurl death and destruction across the planet. Hierarchies should be as dreaded as the mushroom cloud!
Churches and States must remain buried in the ashes. The most obscene atrocities in human history have usually been committed in the name of the love of god or the love of country. Striving for spiritual or pantheistic joy is admirable, but organized religions that demonize others and demand their annihilation should never re-emerge from the wreckage and fall-out.
As for States, humanity existed for hundreds of thousands of years without them. And now as we struggle to survive on a scorched planet, we can point to governments as the cause for the obscene murder of billions of innocents. May the grotesque spell of churches and states never hypnotize us again!
Capitalism must capsize. It should have been obvious that any system that places profits ahead of the people and the planet would be disastrous for both. An economic model that worships greed cannot possibly serve the common interest or the greater good. The tribal model has provided a template that allowed people to live fulfilling lives without harming each other or the environment. Capitalism deserves the casket!
Cities, speed and stuff are curses and not cures. Urban sprawl, a pace of life at hyper-speed and people being possessed by their possessions, were all symptoms of late-stage Civilization. Our sea gypsy tribe believes that life should be lived no faster than Nature suggests. The fastest horse and the swiftest sailing boat are organic guidelines that insure happier people and a safer planet. Without humanity’s worship of speed, there could have been no missiles to deliver the death.
This concludes The Recitation of the Code. For my final duty, I will joyously light this ceremonial flame that symbolizes our tribe’s ferocious determination to Survive, Thrive and Strive. And now arise fire jugglers – ignite your torches and remind us once again that Life is Amazing and Life is Precious!