We crossed the human defined 30th parallel last night, I sense Nature didn’t blink an eyelid!
The current out here, after being our quite aggressive 1 knot foe, has switched to being our gentle friend, now helping us along by about 0.5 knots. (Can the sea be our friend, or even our foe? See what Joseph Conrad says below!) After rain and the 20 knot winds yesterday, the rain has left clear skies as we go through a light wind patch associated with an alien localised High Pressure zone. Should be back to full on 20 knot trades tomorrow and the seas are predicted to rise from the 2m of today to around 3.5m. So we shall see….: Just on 1100 nm to go to Tahiti!
The Extreme Adventure: A glimpse of its dark side!
As I write this post from the seeming comfort of my padded leather chair and desk, in my single porthole ‘prison cell’, I’m filled with confusion and turmoil. This is why I prepared for this new One Point Zero adventure as being the most extreme ever, and the journey of the mind has begun…..
Yesterday I sat down to write about some real One Point Zero stuff, trying to connect ‘you’ to the One Point Zero picture I have inside me. Its many scary rooms, corridors and stairways and levels, which maybe only from my perspective, make a cohesive One Point Zero edifice.
It then hit me that there may be nobody is even reading this? Compared to my previous blogs, life and my struggle on the ship vs Africa, South Pole, Siberia, etc maybe seems boring? A struggle that is seemingly from the outside is not even a struggle but a luxury cruise! Then add, the hard to confront, Facts of One Point Zero, and its mission, and maybe I have the basis for a box office flop!
Ha-ha, being a pessimistic realist, and apprentice activist, I have plans for all scenarios, even the “Howard is the only one who reads his blog”, scenario! I realised a while back that one has to do what one loves, and the way one loves doing it, not what you think others want, otherwise’ ‘ya will fail yaself’. This is where it does get scary though….: Thanks to so many followers of my adventures in the past, I have lived ‘snugly’ for many years under the ‘Solo but Not Alone’ banner, but experiencing ‘Solo and Alone’, would be a whole new challenge…….!
Adding to of this, with the novelty of the first few days of ship life behind me, I’m now in the very familiar, yet unfamiliar, adventure capitulation zone. Capitulation is part of all the extreme adventures I have done, and is the point when one finally accepts one’s new life circumstance and moves to loving it, and finding meaning and purpose in all of its ‘Now’. Normally that would be dealing with the, non-leather chair realities of the adventure, but the unfamiliarity of this passive ‘prison cell’ capitulation is new!
Just a Sunrise on the Bridge!
This morning I was up on the bridge at first light and the chief officer was on watch, grumpy and hardly acknowledging me as I walked through the doorway into his domain. It was close to the end of his graveyard watch, and having worked shifts in oil refineries, and then had many years of solo sailing through the night, I knew how he was probably feeling.
Making it worse there was I seemingly an ‘insulated’ passenger, having had a full night’s sleep, and arriving just at the only special moment on his tiring watch! The moment to capture another, undeserved, stolen tourist sunrise for Facebook posting! It was a special sunrise to the point I was surprised he even took his camera out went outside and took ‘the shots’, we all do these days.
I moved to the control panel taking my shots from inside to capture the uniqueness for me, of the bridge panel and the sunset. The captain arrived, and the mood changed to one of warm friendliness as I sense he sees me as adding valued diversity to his ship life. He also had his camera and not knowing my intent said: “You should rather go outside as the windows aren’t clean and will spoil the shot!” The discussion continued to him telling me how this Pacific is a desert, ‘there is nothing out here’!
I didn’t know this, and this was my first sunrise at sea…..???!!
Man I felt a whole range of strong emotions flow inside me as I thought how many vast wilderness I had been in that were so called ‘deserts’ as he was describing? Antarctica probably being the one that caught most memory time, but then for more relevance solo ocean crossings came back vividly. How being alone facing the full intensity of Nature’s Grand adventure is so different to this ship experience.
Through no fault of his own, the captain wouldn’t know that two years ago I had experienced this big ocean desert, the largest in the world, but at the mercy of its elements in a 45ft yacht. Not that it was a particularly difficult trip, just that the intensity of being so small and vulnerable in it was so different to this….
Somehow on this huge ship one feels like all one is doing is reluctantly ‘using this desert’ to get somewhere where ‘someone else’ wants it to be. As I talk to the guys on watch there is just one goal, to get there on time for the boss’s docking schedule. At least three of the senior crew to my amazement, have shared with me they don’t even like the sea, they are scared of it!
I can see how the unpredictable moods and power of the sea, particularly the vastness of this Pacific Ocean can be the source of fearful disinterest, or maybe even a conclusion of pointless belonging with a void of any useful human context.
I truly believe that being such a huge part of our Planet’s surface, like the rest of wild Nature, the more intimately we experience it, the more we can understand it, and belong as full, deserving human inhabitants of our home. The more we understand it all, and how we fit in the more we will see the wrongs of our ways, and the easier the One Point Zero Challenge will become, because like me we’d see the change as exciting and life enhancing!
I can see the Captain loves what he does, and as I explore more I see that his love of the ocean is from some perspective that I do not fully understand? I do wonder whether he has any idea of my perspective, and as we chat I sense he is respectful but doesn’t want to go there to even try to understand. I sense for him I’m crazy taking on the risk and discomfort, he has power and a machine that can ‘take on the sea’, and never lose.
I was feeling like I was with people I should have bonded with, but in reality I was in their world and they didn’t understand the world I had experienced? On this huge ship I almost felt betrayal to Nature and myself that I had opted out for this armoured vehicle option: Rather than being intimately immersed in the Nature’s Grand Adventure?
Why was I doing this? I seemed caught in no person’s land: I didn’t have the intensity and sense of belonging with Nature that goes with sailing, and yet I didn’t have the convenience of crossing ‘this desert’ as quickly as possible (by plane) to get to where I ‘have to go’…? The turmoil didn’t stop there and so back to the Captain:
There seems to be a huge difference in his and my relationship to Nature’s Grand Adventure: Our relative sense of insignificance, vulnerability and depth of intimacy with that Adventure. He uses a huge, sophisticated, armoured vehicle, needing many fellow humans to keep it going and ‘him and them’ protected from the forces of Nature.
I have only used simple, more fragile ones: Often not even having a vehicle, and therein I sense our different perspective on the relationships to Nature lies.
Sadly, I sensed from the passionate discussion we had two nights ago, that in the years gone by he had experienced a much deeper intimacy with the Sea and Nature. I saw his face change as he became animated in bodily expression, transforming into a vibrant, intense human. I could feel his words coming from his soul and the context of this deeper bond with the sea, but one which was now just a memory. He even spoke with some sadness about the changes that have taken place.
Now on the bridge, he shared with me that these days the RPM of the engine of Cap Capricorn of which he is the Captain is set and monitored real time by the ‘Head office Captain’ sitting in Hamburg! In the pursuit of functional efficiency his freedom is fast dissolving into soul-less compliance. This is what is happening in his journey to Success. The modern world in its ever more powerful armoured vehicles and focus on urgency, schedules, and ‘the buck’, has moved his Intimacy with Sea, to being merely a distant memory.
As I pursue my work, the challenging One Point Zero question I ask myself is:
Is this ever increasing armour and amazing logistical success journey part of the path we need to One Point Zero Success? To more and more ‘block out’ the spiritual intensity associated with Nature’s Grand Adventure, and merely use our ocean wilderness for our anthropocentric needs and functional purpose? Maybe ‘we’ are improving a process that is fundamentally flawed? Maybe it is a process that promotes a Way of Life that increases our already too much ‘unfriendliness’ to Nature and our Planet? One that is a contributor to our One Point Zero problem: Both in its ecological footprint cost to deliver, and in its support of our unrestrained demand for convenience and novelty? With every day of increasing unfriendliness to Nature, we are losing our home and our ability to belong!
If the answer is the latter best we search for a whole new Life process that sets us on the One Point Zero course, rather than waste human innovation and genius on increasing the conflict with Nature that will result in our eventual demise.
The Ship for the 1%!
Later on in my day, while doing my perimeter walk I bump into Liu Yangyung, one of the crew from China, and his job is to check every 2 hours that the refrigeration on each refrigerated container is functioning. I ask him to show me how, and I was astounded to see most of the refrigerated containers being kept at minus 25 degrees C or thereabouts. He confirmed that it was meat and fish inside, and the deep freeze is to eliminate any chance of bacterial decay. This is an expensive and footprint heavy import / export process. I wonder who buys this meat imported meat, I then pondered? Oh well obviously: Surely it’s only the ‘1%-ers’ who could afford flesh that is shipped across the Pacific, and kept refrigerated at minus 25 Degrees C for 20+ days. I have probably eaten it many times in the past without blinking an eyelid, maybe seeking its exoticness, having never engaged in the mindfulness step this ship trip is facilitating!
So there we go, another item to add to My One Point Zero Challenge list: No more imported meat or seafood for me! Actually thanks to a strong influence from Fiona, we have both moved almost 100% away from farmed meat for the reasons of its huge ecological footprint of which I am sure most of you are aware, and also its anthropocentric flaw! Yeah, all challenging stuff for the ‘little boy’!
The Sea, Nature and Humans
Continuing on our relationship with Nature, but with different context, I can relate deeply to Joseph Conrad’s words: “The sea has never been friendly to man. At most it has been the accomplice of human restlessness.”
Conrad is seemingly humanising the sea, but I sense beyond an adversarial relationship he points to a mystical synergy between humans and Nature that ascends our human understanding of relationships. The increasing armour of mankind’s ingenuity maybe taking us further away from a spiritual restless accomplice that is linked to our Real Success?
Over the years of exploring how my Definition of Success has changed and how I moved from my anthropocentric, capitalist world void of spiritualism to a world where my very being relied on an understanding and acceptance of my place in Nature, has brought me face to face with the above seemingly flippant idealistic questions. As I have explored more and contextualised the huge shift we need to make to move toward a One Point Zero world, the paradigm shifts behind these questions are seemingly more and more like the imperatives we have to face.
From my little boy, transformed by Nature’s Grand Adventure, perspective: It is very clear that we are aiming at the wrong beacon of Success! One that is taking us further and further away from living intensely as full humans and belonging to Nature and our Planet.
The sooner we see that, and change the beacon, the sooner this amazing human innovation machine can be pointed at Real Success. When that happens, the One Point Zero goal will become an achievable reality. The challenge is for us all to see that where we are aiming is not success, but rather mass annihilation of a brainwashed or mushroomed crowd. Unfortunately the leaders of The Crowd seem so entangled in the power fame, and fortune associated with our journey to the current beacon of Success, that they won’t volunteer to lead us where we really need to be going! It will take all of us to demand from them to step up and show us the way or either step down and fall on their swords.
Now yes, that is a very big statement with huge ramifications from a ‘little boy’!
There we go, it just started with sunrise on the bridge, and it all led to this!
Oh maybe some of the above is because I’m feeling seriously unbalanced with ship life at the moment, and this new capitulation is challenging me?:
‘They’ broke ‘My’ gym. ‘They’ feed me too much! ‘They’ won’t allow me to ‘sail’ the ship! ‘They’ are all males! …. Ha-ha, yeah life on a container ship! So what are you going to do about it Big Howard?
I went up to the bow of the ship, ‘right on the point’, sat and had a serious ‘one on one’ meeting with myself! Yeah, as those that know my claim to hold the world record for ‘Romantic Dinners for One’ would know there used to be ‘Me’ and ‘Myself’ two quite different personas that had many, many romantic dinners together until they became ONE! Well that was years ago and I thought we were ONE, but this ship or maybe the activist pulls are sort of splitting us up again! So yeah the meeting on the bow was good in finding out why, and what is needed to get us ONE again! So action:
1. I skipped lunch today: That felt good and will become the norm now!
2. In place of lunch I did 1 hour of mostly ‘gym-less’ exercise as the equipment is now fully U/S. So running up and down 8 flights of stairs 5 times, then out on the afterdeck for on the spot running. Then a fast walk around the ships perimeter pathway climbing all the caged ladders along the way and up to the various places they go… Then lastly into the gym for bench press and sit ups, as that is all that’s in working order. Felt soooooo much better to be out of the cell and working the body!
3. Decided I have to be brave and just write how I feel to ‘you guys’: Whoever ‘you guys’ are, even if there isn’t a ‘you guy’!
4. Solving the men only problem: I decided to spend two hours tonight and every second night (ha-ha) dreaming of being with Fiona!
Now those that know my love for the 1965(?) book entitled ‘The Ulysses Factor, The Human Need to Explore’, that I have shared before, will know that it says the only way to experience something, is to experience it!: To live it, to deal with its joys, struggles, and mediums. To throw your heart and soul at it, and most of all to be naked in it! No armour or simulators, or tour guide capsules, just you and the experience alone, albeit with others around! One has to feel the full force of the experience on oneself! This is what I volunteered for an intense experience, not hedonistic pleasure or a short cut to happiness!
Well yes, that’s what I feel I am doing at the moment, and I’m trying to share it all, not just the fantasy stuff! Ah, sorry I won’t share those ‘two hours every second day’ with you, but ‘everything else’! As best I can, OK!
Will I stop flying and resort to container ship travel? Well let me have the full Ulysses experience before I answer that! What would help my decision is if JUST two people from my ‘socio-economic’ group would also take up the challenge and commit to a future without flight! (I prepared to listen to less onerous proposals within My One Point Zero Challenge commitment to myself!) Anyway early days yet, we have almost three months to think about it and decide!)
OK, bye from out there in the deep blue yonder desert!