by Ray Jason
How sweet was this? Looking at the tables full of sailors eating, chatting and smiling, I realized that I was one of those rarest of individuals – someone who had found his Tribe. In a world cursed with profound loneliness that is deliberately hidden behind the charade of cyber connectivity, I was blessed with genuine community.
These were not Facebook friends, they were face-to-face friends. We were not communicating via screens and pixels. We were interacting with our voices, our glances, our laughter.
My fantastic local marina had provided three big turkeys for our Thanksgiving Day feast. Two of the cruising wives spent about TWENTY hours cooking them up … in a single oven. The rest of us brought pot luck items that overflowed the serving tables.
These thirty sailors, gathering together to share food and friendship, hailed from ten different countries. Four different languages were being spoken – actually five – if you count Aussie.
Back in the so-called Real World, the social engineers are deliberately stoking the fires of unnecessary antagonism. They understand that the more tension there is between various groups, the easier it is to increase their control over the battling factions.
But in our sailing tribe there is an over-arching commonality that focuses on our similarities rather than our differences. We all had to endure difficult and dangerous conditions at sea in order to get here. We all realized that back where we came from, the social fabric was being shredded. And we all recognized that the situation would probably become far worse before it got better – if it ever got better. Such shared experience forges some very strong bonds.
Our fleet is a last bastion of true equality. Nobody cares how large or small your boat is. But they do expect you to not anchor too close, which would put other vessels in harm’s way. Most of us don’t know what the other cruisers did “back there.” But we do know that some really good traits for “right here” include being easy-going and conscientious and with a sense of humor. And being rich doesn’t mean much in our world. We value heart worth over net worth.
Our cruisers’ feast lasted about three hours. No voices were raised, no strident arguments over petty politics broke out. Instead, our friendship and fellowship was celebrated.
Most of us probably paused at some point during the afternoon and recognized that this was the formula for rich living. Our lives do not hamster wheel around stuff or schedules or speed. They flow quietly and slowly like the tides that embrace us.
And we laughed over the frenzy that would grip the U.S. the next day as consumers embraced their “inner barbarian” at Black Friday sales in El Norte. Here, in the Archipelago of Bliss, there are no malls or cineplexes or fast food restaurants. But there are beaches without footprints, reefs without divers and anchorages without boats.
A few hours after everyone had returned to their boats, I sat on a nearby dock to reflect a bit more on this lovely day. A new moon bejeweled the West with its graceful sickle shape.
It reminded me that I often feel like a fool barking at the moon, because my little essays just seem to evaporate in the vast emptiness. My core message has been that we seem so hypnotized by the frenzy and glitter of the modern world that we do not see the emptiness that it hides.
The antidote that I have prescribed time and again has been to return to those things in Life that are elemental and enduring. And this day was a perfect template. Food made with loving hands and shared with friends. Relaxed conversation and laughter with shipmates for whom you have genuine admiration and affection. A joyous today and a gleaming tomorrow.
Now the moon was beginning to dip behind the trees on the hillside. I stood up and started to head back to my lovely sailboat. After a few steps there was a little splash from a jumping fish. I paused and looked back at the water.
And then this aging sea gypsy bowed his head … and gave thanks.