Stress is relative to prior experience. As is Joy. As is Love, as is Passion, as is fear as is pleasure. As is beauty.
Beauty… How to describe, how to paint that…. I see it. Its painted in my head. It plays like a dance with the prom queen for me. But I didn’t find it on a dance floor. I found it on the ocean.
I had lived in Southeast Alaska for a few years and decided to sail North to Seward. My boy’s mother lived there and flying them back and forth for the summers to visit with me was a half ass fatherly attempt at best. It was time for a change. A big change. I didn’t want to move back North. Back to my hometown. I wanted to explore. I wanted a fresh horizon. But I didn’t want to see it alone. I had so much to share with my boys. We needed each other. And in hindsight, this was the adventure that quenched my thirst the most.
The boys (Isaac and Steven) were 8 and 11 years old respectively. We had already had many adventures through the inside passage from Ketchikan to Juneau and Elfin Cove.
We had tasted the Gulf of Alaska, together, for the first time. We had lost sight of land together for the first time. But of all the firsts, I needed them. I needed their help. I needed their eyes for the horizon. Their hands for the helm. I needed sleep. And sleep I did while they kept watch on our 500 NM offshore passage via Yakutat from Cross Sound to Resurrection Bay.
The journey was not without its trials as I adjusted to my first “CREW”, yet EMPIRICUS sailed North.
There was a silky smooth night, where the warm wind whispered in my ear. The boys were quiet. The sky shrouded by cloud cover, leaving a faded curve, ahead of our path. The globe, a thin dim nightlight.
We sailed slowly, a pleasant splash rhythmically washing the bow, was disturbed by a familiar sound to a sailor in these waters… The splash of the Dahl’s Porpoise! Oh cool! We loved it when the Porpoise played in the bow wake. We had seen it many times, but it never got old. They were the messengers of joy. What intimidated us, was their playground. What we felt our way through with our dim light of knowledge was their schoolyard. So as we were prone to pray, they were prone to play.
Five or six Porpoise were now stirring our bow wake feverishly and we took turns creeping forward to the bowsprit. One by one we made our little walk forward to see them up close.
Standing on a bowsprit, at night, under sail is an experience all its own. Literally floating across the water, hovering with a breeze on your cheek. Only the plunge of the hull, cutting silky water, and the up and down bound of your platform, even hint of your progress…. The ocean has a glass floor on its top, while the sea writhes beneath your un-webbed feet.
I perched here. I saw beauty.
Before my eyes, unfolded a dance, lit by lightning. Usually at night, the porpoise could be enjoyed only under the beam of a light or by their sound alone. Yet another guest was at this dance. Their part in this presentation was to bring the light. The phenomenon is known as bioluminescence. Tiny microscopic lightning bugs, of the marine variety. I have seen them before while diving at night, as they wrapped my gloved hand in a glowing shroud of green sparkling light…
As these porpoise broke the surface, a green foamy splash of light, sprayed upright, raining light back down upon itself like a foundry of green molten metal… Liquid light.
A quick suck from the creature breathing a gasp was followed by a bullet quick dive below the surface. Now well below in the dark water was the silhouette of this graceful rocket, in full shape and color. Black and white, like a mini Killer Whale (a close relative). From its nose to the tip of its thrusting tail, kicking a green ribbon behind, flaunting its own personal spotlight. Dancing with it.
Now all together I took them in, not blinking but a gasp… The little pod made Vegas look like a pinball game in a smoky restaurant. Like fighter jets they played with the crushing bow, plunging, plashing and charging the hull and each other with daredevil accuracy. A collision less orchestra of controlled chaos, lit afire before me.
Hair on ends, founded by goose bumps, I found myself again humbled… Choked up by a sight that could not be imagined, digitized or replicated. Absolute Beauty.
The boys were amazed! We continually spelled one another at the helm while we enjoyed the sight together, in as many combinations as possible, while staying on course, keeping the boat moving and therefore keeping the Porpoise interested. It was a grand energy we loaded on deck that night and a memory that lives with each of us to this day.
I was surprised at how this impacted me. I asked myself why… For a long time I asked myself why… Maybe until this moment….. I see now why…. Like the straw that breaks the camels back, causing a meltdown of emotions, so it is for joy.
Not all lessons learned, are, or should be, about what not to do. There are many stories of joy that are the crescendo of a buildup of pleasure. Exploring the ocean with my 2 sons was an exhilarating time for me and this gift of a Broadway show by Poseidon’s dancers was a cherry on top of a magnificent week with my boys. My blood. My CREW
When we replay our lives in a rapid wheel, we see the highlights and the lowlights. A mishmash of moments, painting a picture of our heart.
As for me, though my picture has shadows of dark, and streaks from the rain, a bright fascinating canvass develops before me. More and more as time goes on, I realize something… My brush carries bright rich colors to my canvass. It does so, because that is where I dip my brush. In the sweet moments of perfection. The paydays in life. Dwell on them. Replay them. Do not dwell on the dark abyss. Dwell on the light. It shines for you, as much as anyone else on earth.
Captain Jesse Osborn