Night Watch, Heavy Rain
16 October 2010 | Underway for Port Vila
I 've been tossing it around in my mind for an hour or two - how to tell you, my friends out there - just what it's like. But time and again, I reject the words and phrases. As false, in some way. I WANT to tell what it's like, out here one hundred miles from land, - at night, in pouringdown rain - drenched, through my "waterproof" jacket, shorts soaked, eyes stinging in the runoff, fingers pressed to the engine vent for a little warmth - for an hour and a half, rolling in the confused seas, by myself.
Eventually I gave in - no more Mr Wet Guy! picked a lull in the rain and came below. Hung up the jacket in the shower/toilet (floor has a grating with a pump-out underfloor). Toweled off and put on dry clothes and proceeded to heat a kettle on the gas stove for a cup of tea. Why not some toast to go with it - I thought - knowing you can't cook toast in a seaway (could be a song, with a line like that! "Oh you can't cook toast in a seaway") because the oven door has to be open. What-do-yer-know! if the gimballed stove don't work just fine with the door folded away! Wholemeal bread, half-inch thick slices (sorry, must interrupt this to go on deck, though in this rain what would you see?) okay - where was I? - toast with strawberry jam - big goopy lumps of it, over melted butter, eaten while warm, chomping like I had not eaten in days, and a cup - no a mug! of hot tea with extra powdered milk. All the while the old diesel purring in its deep metallic throat.
Get out the butter from the frig, get a knife from the drawer, slice the loaf. Simple, you think? No - everything is moving. Locker doors open with a bang, and shut themselves - like it was a haunted house, my mug of tea takes off, slopping over, and the jam jar slides gracefully back and forth along the seventies blue tiles. Eating the toast with its burden of butter and jam, I feel good, and happy, the troubles gone. I will check the radar and go up on deck every 15 minutes, and enjoy it down here in the dry. Our saloon has a varnished table, with books and charming detritus slung about, and a Persian rug and upholstered settees and cushions and bookfilled shelves, just like yours. No, no - ours is a fantasy, cupped as it is in the hands of God,inches from infinite oceandarkwater above and below. Noah in his ark lived each day by faith - why shouldn't we?
Sometimes I think I write of only the good bits, but it's all good, if you look at it that way. (Cynical groans are heard, at this New Age waffle.) All I can say is: try it. I mean, it's a choice, ain't it?
Some golden light in the West, up ahead; the moon is going down. A few stars have popped out and the solar garden light in the rigging reflects briefly off the waves. My watch is done, time for sleep now.
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Anyway, what I was thinking about - earlier - is focussed in a book title, one of those book titles where the title says it all: telling you that you don't need to buy the book, because you've got the message. It was: "All I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten". Pause, and think about that. The guy (no woman was that dumb) never learned a thing after he was six in his tumbunctuous tumble through Life. Mm.
Maybe he DID learn, and what he learned was that his early teachers had THE package. The REAL THING: the Light that would guide, come what may. In hindsight he sees his blessing. Okay. We'll come to that. Only two people read this blog, and one has gone off to make herself some toast, so listen carefully - I'm not going to repeat this: Isn't it true that the package you and I were handed by those early teachers, including our parents if we we had any, is (nearly) always in conflict with Life As You Find It? In other words - the contrast between What's Supposed To Happen and What Actually Happens is (so often)- EXCRUCIATING!!
What I learned in kindergarten dogs me to this day. I'm frightened of dogs. Dogs should not be allowed! I can't stop using the word "should", that's one of the signs. How I am "supposed to behave" in any given situation constantly intrudes on my thinking. Am I "thinking of Others?" Lord luvaduck!! Others are the problem! Am I "Being Good"? I'll NEVER be Good! This is boring me as well as you; I'm just a - a - grumpy old man.
What I LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN - Oh, Lord, let me just forget all that, except perhaps the KIND- ness of my mum and dad, my teachers. They meant well, God bless 'em. When I see them again, I will wink at 'em before we embrace.
My friend, the author, learned it all back in school. Maybe I was away from school that day.