It is a bit past 2030 on a Wednesday evening, and I am onboard Amélie surrounded by an incredible stillness. The sea is as flat as I have seen it in a long time and my floating neighbours are all just bobbing about. The only sound is the odd ripple of water as it brushes against the hull of Amélie…things are pretty good. As the sun was beginning to drop behind the headland, I thought it was a good time to begin to write another letter for you.
It is probably hard for anyone who does not have boating as a key chromosome to understand how nice this all is. Sitting on the aft deck, just watching the world revolve makes this whole thing about being alive pretty incredible. About the only discernable noise came from my CD player gently surrounding me with Carl Wilson’s ‘Heaven.’
Today was meant to be a busy day for me. I had been here at the beginning of the week, but then had to go home to deal with some client things (and clean the house, of course). But this morning I was all caught up, so I came back in Amelia. The drive here from Sol y Mar is pretty much all motorway, and it is an easy 25 minute drive. I would like to being Miranda here, but when I stay onboard, it would mean that I would have to leave Miranda on one of the narrow town streets overnight (or for multiple overnights), and I am not too keen on that. It isn’t that Amelia is an ‘expendable’ car, only that I think that because she looks so normal, no one would do anything.
After arriving, I went to my meeting point and found Améliña waiting for me. Améliña is the name of the tender to Amélie, and I use her to get from boat to shore or the reverse. I have a good friend here to sort of watches over my boat when I am away, and when I do come back, he brings Améliña to shore for me and ties her up at the same place each time. So I plopped my satchel into Améliña and motored out to where Amélie is moored. (Sorry if all these names are confusing…you really do need to pay attention.) After doing my mandatory (self-imposed, but mandatory none-the-less) cleaning chores onboard, I decided that I was due a bit of fun, so I rowed Améliña from my mooring to the other end of the harbour. It isn’t like crossing the Channel or anything, but it is over a mile each way, and rowing a hard-bottomed inflatable boat isn’t exactly all that great. But for me, it is cheaper than having a land-based rowing machine, and the exercise is clearly good for me. The row there wasn’t that bad, as there was a breeze behind me all the way. But the way back was a real bugger, but that is what exercise is supposed to be about. Isn’t it? Anyway, I did make it back and had some lunch and then sat down to get some client work done. And then tonight, the stillness set in. I was thinking that this would be a good time to do some TM, but just being onboard is the best meditation there is, so the Maharishi will just have to wait.
So I was once again faced with a major conundrum: should I just relax a bit and enjoy the incredible stillness, or should I do something a bit more constructive. Just to clarify, something ‘constructive’ means using my brain for something other than a repository of too many creative ideas whilst sitting in the sun. I seem to run into this conundrum quite often, but in all fairness, I found quite a few years ago that being surrounded by sun and water are incredibly stimulating to me. So, like many humans who are faced with massive conundrums, I compromised. This doesn’t mean I just defaulted to the sun-solution. I decided to use the sun and the gentle waves of the sea to help me get cracking again. And it didn’t take long to get those brain cells to deliver a solution to me.
When I was researching for my Ph.D., I spent a considerable amount of time studying far eastern philosophy. One of the things I learnt has stuck with me as if it was super-glued to my psyche ever since. The phrase I had discovered was, ‘when the student is ready, the teacher appears.’ After about 30 mins, I was apparently ‘ready’ for what I needed to do, and off I went.
I had received the most wonderful little book from David and Nancy. The book is titled “My Dad,” and after opening it, I discovered that it was full of lined pages. Almost completely devoid of text, the only writing consisted of questions on every other page. At first, I thought, ‘what cute questions.’ They were things like ‘what was it like to grow up,’ and ‘which one of your parents are you most like,’ Cute. Some of the questions were a bit more inquisitive, but none-the-less, it looked like answering them might be a good thing to do.
The intent of the compiler (no author, just a couple of people who dug up the question) was to have a ‘Dad’ fill out the pages with answers to the questions. Very cute. But it didn’t take me long to realise that my answers would require more space than the book allowed, so I fired up my computer and began typing. I do like to write, and after quite a few hours, I had managed to get a good start. I was now ready to finish my little question-driven essays. I went below and grabbed the computer I have on Amélie and went up to the aft deck to finish what I had started when I received the book. I did this with the best of intent, but here technology mucked up my plans. I do have a relatively good computer onboard, but whomever designed these laptops must have never considered that they could possibly be used outdoors. The brightness of the sun made trying to see what I was typing damn impossible, so I had to go below to do my writing. This ‘modification’ to my conundrum wasn’t anticipated, but I figured that I could finish up the questions in short-order. I was wrong. When I finally did finish, long after the sun had gone down, I had whipped out 12,000 plus words…and was dead knackered (but in a good way).
Upon reflection, and the main reason to tell you about this, this ‘exercise’ was brilliantly cathartic and I would encourage any father to do something similar for his children. I never realised until I had encountered each question how little our children really know about who we are, and how we managed to arrive at where we are in life. At the risk of promoting a book in this letter (especially a book that I did not publish), if you are a parent, go buy the book and get writing. It will be good for your children, and very good for you.
P.S. Webcam update. The new webcam that I had to install at Sol y Mar (because the lens on the previous one went all wonky) decided to go to webcam heaven, so now whilst I am waiting for its replacement, I am back to the Monet-like picture on the first one. My apologies.
the incredible stillness of it all
just arrived from my Italian craftsmen
the latest design from the Studio
so very still...
the book worth buying
what you would see if the webcam picture wasn't blurry
copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, James B. Rieley