by Ray Jason
Perhaps you awaken in the midnight stillness and find yourself lost in the labyrinth of an elusive but disturbing dream. As consciousness returns, you realize that it is not a dream that is troubling you – it is the reality of your life. You suddenly realize that the modern world is not providing you with joyous possibilities. Instead, it is ensnaring you in a digital desert.
You recognize that your 1,243 Facebook friends are actually 1,243 Falsebook strangers. And you are forced to acknowledge that you hardly ever see your real friends - unless it is their image on a handheld screen. You wonder why you feel so isolated and alienated and ALONE - in a world that is supposed to be so connected.
Even more disturbing is your awareness that your future prospects seem just as bleak as your present condition. You are halfway through college, and your opportunities seem to range between barely tolerable and grim. How will you repay those student loans on a barista’s income? Indeed, your cynicism has grown so pronounced, that you now refer to this trendy occupation as a “serfista.”
One of your classmates mockingly describes your university as an Institution of Higher Indoctrination. When you first heard him voice such blasphemy, you were outraged. But now in your sophomore year, it is starting to seem like an accurate description. The prophetic words of George Carlin ring truer every day: “Schools are not designed to encourage critical thinkers - their purpose is to produce obedient workers.”
At a stage of life when you should be sorting things out, you are instead, floundering in confusion. All of the supposed bedrock institutions of the status quo seem bankrupt and corrupt to the core. Politicians only care about the rich people who donate to their campaigns. Religion keeps claiming that it is a beacon of morality, when it is actually a catalyst for repression and bloodshed. The mainstream media has abandoned its duty to be a buffer against too much power and is now an enabler of too much power. The entertainment industry seems completely dedicated to distracting you from any meaningful consideration of the state of the world.
Or to sum it all up: Nothing seems to be getting better! And what makes it even more disheartening, is that almost none of your peers seem to notice the depth of this culture’s dysfunction. It is hard for you to not feel like the proverbial stranger in a strange land.
Having spent much of my youth in the same nonconformist and almost outcast predicament, I feel genuine empathy for you. And more importantly, I believe that I can gift you with a bold suggestion that might bring joy and meaning back into your life. My solution is simple but radical. JUST SAIL AWAY FROM IT ALL!!!
Don’t waste money on a college degree that will allow you to be the smartest worker at the take-out window. Buy a good, solid ocean-worthy sailboat that will sell for about one tenth of what a decent house would cost. Go out and spend a year learning a tradesman’s skill like welding or refrigeration repair. I assure you that in the sea gypsy world a diesel mechanic is far more appreciated than a hedge fund manager. While you are acquiring an actual trade that is of value to someone, you can also master the basics of sailing and then learn how to choose the right type of boat for your new contrary-to-ordinary life. I have devoted an entire essay to helping newcomers achieve this - which you can find here.
Now here are some of the wondrous aspects of shifting to a sea gypsy approach to life:
· IMMERSION IN NATURE – The average person lives almost entirely in the human-built world of cities, freeways, malls, and office cubicles. It is an artificial maze of steel, concrete, glass and pulsing blue screens. This separation from the natural world is considered by many wise thinkers as one of the main reasons for the enormous problems that plague our societies. For example: the mass shootings, the need for prescription drugs to relax, sleep and enjoy sex, and the apathy in the face of the accelerating decline of freedom and joy. These are all symptoms of our severing ourselves from Mother Nature.
When living the cruising life you reconnect to the majesty and wonder of the natural world. There will be periods when your only companions are the creatures of the Sea and the Sky. You will learn anew that you are a human animal that is an integral part of the web of life and not a human being that is a master species ordained to rule over all the other life forms. It is both an uplifting and humbling lesson.
· SELF-RELIANCE – A major characteristic of the switch from nomadic tribal living to sedentary civilization was the steady erosion of personal independence. All the members of a hunter-gatherer group could fend for themselves with equal efficiency. Everyone could forage, build a fire, skin an animal, etc. But Agriculture brought “division of labor” meaning that the basket weaver was dependent on the farmer who was dependent on the plow maker. And they were all under the thumbs of the rulers and the priests.
An ocean sailor is forced to regain self-sufficiency. Out on the Wide Waters there are no repair shops to pull into. You have to complete the repairs yourself. You learn to sew patches on your sails, maintain the diesel engine and navigate the old-fashioned way if your GPS goes down. This “re-skilling” is tremendously empowering in an age when experts seem to be the only people who can fix things.
· ASTONISHING FREEDOM – How sublime is it to be able to hoist your anchor and sail off to someplace else if you desire to do so? Imagine not contributing a penny in taxes to a government that will use much of that money to bomb innocent women and children. How exquisite is it to sail thousands of miles just relying on the wind and the ocean currents. And if you decide to raise a family while enjoying the sea gypsy life, you can home school them and protect them from educational systems that strive to regiment them and stifle their creativity and individuality. And because an ocean wanderer embraces many of the “old ways” you are not contributing to the mindless frenzy of the supposed “real world.” You are turning your back on reality TV and Artificial Intelligence and the suffocating surveillance web.
· YOU ARE EMERGENCY READY – Most people believe that Humanity will just continue to muddle along with the quality of life gradually declining. But there is considerable evidence that suggests that catastrophic events could be lurking out there beyond the horizon. If a mass societal unraveling should occur, an ocean-ready sailboat is the ideal escape pod. Because we can make our own water and carry large stashes of food and generate electricity through solar and wind, we are extremely collapse resilient. Plus, we are much less likely to have to deal with marauders on the open sea. I have devoted a few essays to this topic. The best one to begin with can be found here.
And now let me return to that initial dream that inspired your reassessment of your Life Path. My wish is that you will consider the sea gypsy life as a better choice than the monotony and drudgery and conformity that so dominates the modern world. I further hope that one day soon you too will be sailing the Wide Waters. And perhaps you will again awaken in the midnight stillness. However, this time you will be dreaming of dolphins rubbing against your little ship. But then you will suddenly realize that it is not a dream. And while laughing with delight, you will head to the bow to greet these amazing kindergarteners of the sea.