Wednesday, August 12, 2009
STRENGTH TO LET GO
When you find things are more enjoyable, not because of anything you’ve done to change them, but because you got over annoyance with the way it has and will always be, one may find a depth of fulfilling pleasure that seems out of reach from any other direction.
After the requisite quantity of lifetime and quality of experience I felt qualified to declare myself among the masters of the earth. I had graduated as a mechanical engineer and been snapped up by the premier technology leader in ‘64, IBM. I had learned to program computers based on the physical requirements of the mechanisms they were to control. Now I worked for the company that made the computers themselves; designed and manufactured the mechanisms that handled the keyboard inputs, the magnetic card/tape recording and printing the perfect text messages extruded from composers’ platens.
Oh, yeah. I had it all. A wife, two kids and an income in such excess of my needs that half went straight to stock that split every six-months. The American dreamer ensconced in the pillow growing softer every paycheck. Nothing could get to me.
Sixteen year-old Robin Graham pushed his 24 foot sloop, Dove, away from the dock in Southern California in’65. Like the proverbial butterfly effect, the breeze that filled his sails blew between the lines of whatever our marriage certificate meant to my wife until it became clear to us both it did not include our cashing in our stash for a boat capable of circumnavigation and a world class education for the girls. When I learned of Robin’s voyage through the syndication of his adventure in National Geographic a couple of years into his five year circumnavigation, that security blanket began to feel like a padded cell and my wife became the warden every time I’d suggest our escape. It’s scary out there.
I settled for the sop of a Cal20 bumping around in landlocked Lake Travis until the fateful day I smoked the straw that broke the camel’s back, and she pushed off to the safer harbor of mama’s wing leaving me to “listen to the grass grow.”
Well, here 38 years later, as it has and always will, the grass growing sounds much more pleasant than me mowing. I have a long way to go in learning to detect and relax wishes to control the course of the inevitables in nature. This is inextricably intertwined with detecting and shedding culturally inculcated “truths” by which I am still tethered to the shore of the myth of western civilization’s destiny to reshape the earth in order to see nature as it is.
I sewed my canvas sail and stretched it out in the breeze across tipi poles taking me as far afield from the American dream as any circumnavigation of a globe being slathered in it could ever take me. Curious as to what one would do for an encore after such an accomplishment by the age of twenty-one I looked Robin up and find that he attended Stanford studying architecture. After two years, both he and Patti, the girl he met in Australia, became disenchanted with a society based on youth swallowing civilization’s myth whole with no experience outside high school (reminds me of me, even after four years of military) and built a log cabin in a Montana forest to raise their daughter, Quimby. We sail the same sea, different tacks.