Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Return of the Blonde

My friend & neighbor from SD, Todd Girouard was just here for 2 weeks with his girlfriend, and I learned something. If you follow the arc of the characters on this odyssey that you’ve been reading for the last 2 years, maybe I don’t shine through as a hero. I think I’m fine with that. It would actually be a far more interesting plot line. Maybe the emerging hero is Suzi. Maybe she’s a girl who pulled through the English caste system to overcome a horrendous family tragedy and embark on this personal challenge beyond anything most would dare. Now that I see it in words, it’s true. With the exception of the “black cari years”, my life has been a rather charmed one and because of that, my character arc isn’t nearly as interesting as Suzi’s. Her sister was killed by the sea and 6 months later she crosses the largest ocean on the planet. Now that’s a story worth reading. Todd’s boss’ wife made this apparent as she can’t get enough of Suzi’s website.

She’ll be returning to Barraveigh on Feb 29th after 4 months off for bad behavior. Let me explain-

Everything dies a premature death on an ocean going sailboat: electronics, rigging, relationships, everything. The stresses, the confined spaces, the life threatening situations, It’s like living inside a pin cushion. And the ocean just rubs salt in your wounds. A life in motion on a blue water cruiser accelerates the demise of everything. 2007 was a tough year. We fought a lot.

And then we took 4 months off. Perspectives change, blame shifts, the earth dries and gives way beneath heels that have dug in. Emails begin to be exchanged, followed by brief phone calls, and then longer phone calls. The sweetness gradually returns. Slowly, I find a way to give this a 2nd chance.

In the immortal words of Leonard Cohen, “Maybe there’s a god above, but all I ever learned from love, is how to shoot somebody who out drew ya.” I, like everyone else that calls Earth home, am dysfunctional in my own majestically flawed ways. It’s the ugly that makes us interesting, maybe even attractive. I’m nowhere near perfect, but I like myself (a lot), and that puts me a leg up. Let me tell you something else I’ve learned -

As the captain of a ship, everything is ultimately my fault. It’s incredibly empowering to know complete personal responsibility. Since I and I alone, am held totally accountable, it forces me to confront problems differently. This wasn’t marketing’s fault. The lost contract wasn’t due to production not shipping on time. I can’t blame personnel for bad hires. I am resigned to perfecting my circumstance. I look for the zen in patching my dinghy. I find the sublime in chiseling the barnacles off my rudder. I blame myself for mismanaging a relationship.

Suzi, our returning hero, will be back aboard in 3 days. 2008 will be an enormous year. We’ll sail to Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Malaysia, and end the year in Thailand. We’ll eat orangutans, dive WW2 shipwrecks, find lost tribes, dodge pirates and navigate uncharted waters. And of course, there’s always the odd row or 3.

Wish us luck,

Captain Bob Friedman

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