So it’s cuffing season again, and HIE is gunning to make some changes in his approach to love. And also in his approach to his career and his free time. Basically a total overhaul. Except, I’ve been beaten down by the weight of so many failed attempts to make positive life changes that I don’t have much faith in them. Also, my library card stopped working mysteriously today (in the app), and the local branch was closed, despite having open hours on Mondays.
Conspiracy? Columbus Day?
Probably the first one, because as we all know, no one celebrates Columbus Day anymore, what with the bad rap expansionism/colonialism/genocide has gotten. But I will say, those olde tyme explorers had some real fucking adventures, no? I mean, is it okay to leave aside the massacres and shit and talk about all the rest?
I had this book I was supposed to read in grad school, written by a Spanish (maybe Portuguese?) explorer about an expedition to South America in like 15XX (I have no idea exactly when, could even be 1625!?). Basically it was a compiling of his logs and maybe some other logs kept by surprisingly literate other crew members, and then enhanced and rounded out by some friend of his back home? I dunno.
The only thing I managed to read after the introduction (which, PRO TIP: in grad school it is essential that you at least read the introductions to all your book assignments. They contain the basic argument and enough details that you can easily hold your own in most American liberal arts classroom discussions. Which seems fairly reprehensible until you understand that most of your classmates won’t have even done that much, but will still manage to blab away most of your “learning” time. DIGRESSION OVER) was a bit I fell upon at random, possibly on the toilet, written about a grueling long stretch in the doldrums.
Which are this big swath of ocean in which the winds just die. I looked for a picture of the area on a map and got practically NOTHING in the way of easily digested infographic. How can we put a goddamn man on the moon, and every episode of ‘Gummi Bears’ on youtube, and not have a nice clear map of the DOLDRUMS pop up for anyone to google?
So, the bit I read was maybe from the first mate and it described how they’d been forced to boil all the leather stuff so they could eat it. Because they were out of food… and there was a PARROT that they strove to not eat until the absolute last possible moment, because it said funny things and the crew had grown super fond of it. I think they did boil him up eventually, but were sad about it. Aren’t old timesy guys amazing?
What I want to know is what the fuck was it like, to be one of them? I’ve got this suspicion that the average human being back in ye’ olden times had a much sharper mind, especially for solving problems in the world around them, and for making observations in said environment. But also, were SO CONNECTED to the physical reality around them. Do you think we could work out that some of the lights in the sky are spinning near us and others aren’t without googling it? Or that you can figure out how tall a tree is using the angle of the sun and the length of its shadow? And what about how ninjas used to be able to tip-toe on water and slice stone clean in half with a sword?
Hahaha ok ok ok.
But honestly, if there’s anything I’d like to change, and really believe in that change and the steps I may take to get to it, it would be to get back to some of that grounded focus that comes from living in a world that you can’t do otherwise than pay attention to. How do you think you’d manage on a ship in the middle of the flat, featureless ocean, with nothing to do? I think you’d do fine, once you got over the outrageous unfairness of your situation. You’d find ways to occupy your time, maybe carve some wood or make a musical instrument, teach yourself the principals of knitting, tell stories, become fascinated by a talking parrot, and really look at shit. Really see things and their qualities.
How to do that without doing something extreme? I’m sure there’s some sort of meditation class or someshit somewhere. And I really do think you’ve got to learn to get there without the excessive measures of taking a sailboat around the world, or hiking the Appalachian trail (although that one might be called for, in fact). Maybe it’s a combo. Some kind of light daily/weekly exercise to maintain, and then periodic heavy factory resets in the wild? Does anyone know what I’m talking about? At all? I’ve suddenly got an overwhelming urge to play video games.