Mapping the limits of the soul: return from the wild
S 14 20.969′ W 170 38.367′
Today we came into sight of land. Real land, with mountains and roads and things like that.
It was really pretty, sitting there with its jagged mountains low on the horizon under rain clouds. Here is a picture:
Since the squall depicted, the seas have been surreally calm as we sit in the lee of the island. This is not the ocean we have known for the past month, and it makes the land seem a little uncanny to be honest.
Tomorrow, we will be guided by a pilot into Pago Pago Harbor (pronounced Pango Pango), and thence transported to a bar, where we shall cut loose, drunken pirate style. The doc has a bag of condoms hanging on the clinic door with a sign that says ‘have fun, but don’t bring anything back with you’. Giving complimentary condoms to grown adults seems kind of quirky to me, like we all have learning disabilities or something, but it seems to be a good public health program.
Tonight I found that I had gained ten pounds (ten!!) since leaving home!! All that free food and those delicious deserts have caught up with me!!
Tonight also, they were watching ‘Into the Wild’ in the forward mess. I used to be dismissive of the guy in the movie, even though I liked the movie part quite a lot. I used to think also that it was escapist voyeurism that made us not feel the weight of our chains, and so not try to be free of them. But tonight it just made me reflect on how we are all on a trajectory towards trying to feel more free, or we are lost. And every person’s efforts to be more free are commendable (unless they harm others).
Then, after wandering off from the moofie, I went up to the bow to say good night to the stars. A nightly ritual that brings me much centeredness. Upon going outside, I saw the lights of Pago Pago. It made me think.
City lights have never really been my thing (unless it is Black Rock City, the home I may never see again – a tear that hangs in my soul forever). They always seemed to be mocking the darkness that came before the advent of electricity; a darkness that I think we need. They are a symbol of how technology has allowed us to transcend nature, and harm ourselves in the process. The counter-productive march of technological innovation. And after so many dark, starry nights with the milky way splashed across the heavens, city lights were not welcome. It made me think, somewhat resentfully, ‘you give us land, and look what we do with it’.
Give me the open sea or give me land, but please give me the night.
I hope my reintroduction into the world off the ship will be easier than these early signs suggest!!
The day after tomorrow (the one that is going to start with a hangover) I am going to try to fly out to Independent Samoa (I think it is just called Samoa now, but the habit of calling it Western Samoa is hard to kick) for a few days. I am told that Samoa is much more traditional than American Samoa, especially on the island of Savai’i. That might ease me back into society!!
Ro roh! I think this is going to be tough!!