Into the Rainbow

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As we prepared to set sail for the longest Atlantic stretch, from Bermuda to the western-most island in the Azores, a serious problem was on our minds. Although we were working as crew, and had paid for full room and board, it was abundantly clear that the nourishment provided on board was inadequate. Death had become a serious possibility on the last stretch. And this time things would be worse if we didn’t do something. In response Marc, Angela and I succumbed to the extremely high prices in Bermuda and snuck some snacks aboard.

We started out northbound to catch the trade winds, then curved our way eastward. Day by day I tracked our position as we approached one of the most desolate places in the world. The middle of the ocean is a strange, surreal, and symmetric place. The horizon stretches around to touch itself, like a glassy fun house mirror. You can turn left or right but nothing changes. And you can feel the danger of the waters beneath you – a palpable lurking presence.

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Large predatory fish and mammals tended to follow in our wake, probably because of Gwen’s habit of throwing all of his trash into the sea. We got into a bit of an argument over this issue during our first week at sea, but it was a pointless. Apparently all arguments are trumped by the statement, ‘the captain is always right.’ In spite of this flawless logic, Angela and I, and now Marc, have decided that in the future we will spend some hours picking up garbage on the beach to offset the damage that occurred in our presence. That said, rows of sharp teeth in the shadow of our wake pale in comparison to the fear of falling off – of being stranded in this realm of endless symmetry.

When Nature called, I would stand at the back of the boat with one arm wrapped around the aft starboard cable, imagining what it would be like to be drifting off into the distance. If the waters were calm, and if it was light out, it would be possible to survive if someone knew that I had gone overboard. If nobody heard my initial scream there was very little chance they would hear any screams after that. Even if someone noticed that I was missing a minute or two after I fell off, it would be extremely unlikely that they would ever be able to retrace their path accurately enough to find me. If someone saw me fall off during the day, then I suppose my biggest worry would be sharks (we think Angela snagged a shark with the fishing line). But if it was at night, there was little hope of ever being found. What would it be like to tread water in this place, waiting for the inevitable end? What would it be like to be reduced to a tiny speck in the middle of the ocean, waiting to make your trek to the bottom of the sea? Standing there, swaying back and forth, these thoughts would resonate in my mind.

The middle of the ocean is a place to get in touch with your self in a whole new way. Clouds paint the sky, morphing, absorbing each other, constantly transforming. Sunrises and sunsets come and go with little to no events between them. This slow pace quiets you down enough to see the footsteps of your own journey. It enables you to pull on the threads of your remaining fears, so that you might stand naked in front of the constitution of your hopes and dreams. Immersed in isolation you find an endless well of motivation, but have very few ways of directing it. It is like finding a fountain of youth, making you ripe with enthusiasm and vigor, but being unable to take it with you except for the ways in which it transforms you.

As far away from humanity as I could be, in the middle of the ocean, I found myself sailing into the heart of a rainbow. I reinforced my commitment to chasing my dream, following my passions, and braving the wild unknowns that slowly shape the story of my life.

Thad

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One Response to Into the Rainbow

  1. Lori Johnson says:

    Oh my goodness Thad. What a mind numbing story of reality. Halfway crying for you all, and halfway smiling that you never left completely your ‘DREAM OF A RAINBOW”. I am so sad that Gwen polluted our beloved seas. I think the sea rebeled and you happend to be in the sea’s angry wake. I do know a story of someone once who actually had what you described happen, the sea was so angry and it was the timing of the year pretty much and the ocean’s waves were no match for nearly any soul that I know.. WELL EXCEPT FOR YOU GUYS NOW… but, the story is that it matches how you would have felt.. just drifting and getting smaller and smaller nobody knew the wiser of the man overboard.. and the noise of the ocean.. well, you know how tranquil that is… so, to this day.. I visualize my friend as you say, trying to say above water, then slowly like a feather on the wind.. winding to the bottom of the sea. I am so sorry you had to go through that… and had to sneak snacks on the boat to eat… I am so sorry, but I crave to live in your rainbow now… OH… LO LOL. ON A HAPPIER NOTE.. HOW IS MARYANGELA’S COCONUT PIES TASTIN’, PROFESSOR??? lol lol…