Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Big Galliot Cay, Exumas, Bahamas

0 nm
Wind: NE-E 20-29 knots, gusting above 45
Seas: Building to 8-12 feet offshore in Exuma Sound, breakers visible in cut

I don’t know why the spiritual meaning of my adventure keeps eluding me, but it does. Today the wind hit in earnest, at least 25-30 knots, with gusts well above 40. We’re getting the forecast now, but it’s not cheering. It’s pretty depressing when they give the whole week in one lump, and it’s all above 25 knots. What’s worse is that we need to wait for the swell to abate and north of east or west winds, and once the swell abates the wind’ll be back out of the southeast, exactly the direction in which we need to go. Big surprise.

So I have nothing to do but sit around and justify my existence or debate with Karl about boat projects. He’s gotten all ambitious about building new cabinets and reorganization, instead of going with my plan to do nothing but play cards and read Ulysses for a week.

I’m making progress on Ulysses, at least. Only two chapters left! Maybe it’s that that has my spiritual imagination at work. James Joyce believes in the power of literature--he wrote a book, thinking it would change the world, and in some ways it did. In other ways it did little except force ex-literary scholars like myself to wade their way through virtually unreadable prose. The book’s still laugh-out-loud funny at some points, and often violently obscene, even for someone exposed to contemporary American television and cinema, but how much can a book change the world if no one can read it?

After all, that’s what I’m supposed to be doing, while Karl reorganizes the quarter-berth and rewires the boat. Writing the great American novel, that will fund our adventures into perpetuity. I have to believe that the blog counts for something, that just getting the raw mass of my experience down will help in future literary endeavors, fictional or nonfiction.

Why am I really doing this adventuring? I believe in experiencing other cultures, being a disciple of sorts, showing love, but is that really what I’m doing? I can journal about it all day long, but having some Bahamian fishermen give us a conch isn’t the same as being a missionary. Without deciding to remain connected to a locale, to stay put, we can’t really make a difference in a community. Does adventure itself have spiritual importance? Or do I need to find that, like James Joyce, in art? If so, how in the world do I discipline myself to become an artist?

These are the questions that swirl around in my head and which I now inflict on you. Our friend in the open catamaran, Ted, laughed at the question: adventure, to him, was the all-important and only spiritual quest. Karl questions why I need to justify my existence at all? Isn’t it enough to merely live?

I suppose these are the questions that haunt us all, whether we’re at a helm or a desk, on a boat or on land, whether we’re explorers or martyrs or poets. Does what I’m doing matter? Does it? Does it? It’s the eternal question, maybe the only question. I can’t expect to answer it while one measly cold front passes overhead.

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