17 October 2012

Love and hate

I've always had a bipolar relationship with my professional seafaring life. Sometimes it seemed to me the most romantic career that anybody could ever dream of. Other times it simply looked just like a big waste of my (ours!) time in this good old planet. Granted, most of it is filled with water. So being a professional mariner in it is not as out-of-place as we might think. However, seafaring is a rose filled with thorns. To live this "adventurous" life the price to pay is high. We'll gradually loose contact with family, with friends. And that solitude will walk with us through our entire career, being it ten or thirty years long. It's like being a monk, without the habit and the implied celibacy.
And this feeling is not a new one. Already in the ancient Greece, a philosopher of the Era stated that there were three kinds of persons on the planet: the living ones, the dead ones and the seafarers. During my two years as a Cadet, when everything looked sunshine and roses and when I, rightfully, thought of myself as being a descendant of Magalhães or Vasco da Gama, I used to listen a lot one of my older shipmates favorite remarks: the sea is for the fishes. Sometimes they went as far as to emphasize that if this was the right place for us, we should have born with flippers, something that I obviously had not.
From those days on, my relation with my chosen career was always a tie between the good days (and they normally were marvellous) and the bad ones (normally disgusting).
One thing, however, I never forgot from those early days. I asked a shipmate (a First-Class Seaman, now retired for years), during one of the many boring lookouts on deck we used to do, what would he like to do after retirement. He said he'd love to make an ocean voyage. On a sailing vessel. Pushed only by the wind. To forget the endless seafaring life on motor-vessels, their main engine vibrations and the propulsion cavitation. Free from the rat race.
Like all souls in this Earth, he, too, searched the purity of his life though simplicity. And I knew that our happiness in life is merely dependent on the satisfaction of (mostly) a simple wish. And that our personal universe, to lead us to happiness, doesn't have to be so large. The beauty of life is on the simple things. We just have to learn to discover and cherish them.
We just have to take (as Robert Pirsig wrote in "Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance") a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.
A fisherman launches his raft to the sea, one early morning, in Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco, Brasil.
Photo taken with Nikon D40X and cheap Nikkor 18-55mm AF-S 1:3.5-5.6 G VR kit lens.
Post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CS3.