Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Conversation with the Inner Sailor.

I've mused about this for years.

The sailor is indeed an archetype. In many cultures, the sailor is even one of the most well defined of the archetypes. While the ideal lends itself to caricature--it is hard to suggest that the image of the robust, aware, hard-living, passionate voyager with a worldly eye is a mistaken one. . .I know many "sailors," in type, only a few of which have spent time at sea, and fewer yet at sea under sail. There are many archetypes in our human community, for sure, but I will still insist that the sailor, at least in western culture, is a huge one, if not one of the very biggest. Far too many of our scholars, or writers, or thinkers have been sailors at at least some part of their life for this to be mere coincidence. Why? Sailing requires looking ahead, and looking ahead squarely and bravely as its prime requisite. This seems, more and more, to be a shockingly rare characteristic. I guarantee you: while you may cross an ocean with your eyes closed, you will not make port unless you a paying a hell of a lot of attention to what is going on. As we voyage into a very uncertain and uncharted future, only those of us with the highest level of attunement to water and waves, and have the crackest crew, and the most wary hand on the lead will sound our way to safe harbor without mishap. Really, for damn sure. And this doesn't mean that the coast we close with is a friendly one.

People would do well to understand that a sailor, as an type, once he has determined that there is a hole in the boat, and she's taking water, will expect action in a timely manner. He may, as well, be a little less than polite in the urgency of the request to man the pumps.

. . .pump her boys, pump her dry
down to hell and up to the sky. . .
. . .bend your back and break your bones
for we're only a thousand miles from home. . .