Sailors are meant to be on ships,
Ships are meant to be at sea,
And land ain't nothing but a hazard to navigation!
After all of these years I certainly understand the meaning of this saying, oft-repeated in the Fleet. Life on land is complicated; at sea it becomes simpler, more manageable, comprehensible. When ashore I have to deal with the traffic on I-64, standing in line at the ATM, the noise of small children in the cinema, and a thousand other complications that arise when I find myself caught up in the "real" world; when sailing these stressors diminish and fade away.
Aboard ship I know my place, I am familiar with my duties and responsibilities, there are few surprises to interrupt the splendid routine of life underway; a life which resembles closely that which Sailors and Mariners have known for many hundreds, even thousands, of years. The self-contained world of a sea-going vessel has a structure honed and refined over uncounted voyages which, while perhaps not perfected, serves well to maintain her bottled ecosystem, her government, infrastructure and citizenry.
On the deck of a great gray ship alongside other seafarers, whether in calm or storm, in close-quarters maneuvering with an aircraft carrier or transiting the Strait of Gibraltar, I am at peace. I'm not a spiritual man by any definition that I know of, and not prone to "new age" ideas, but if there is a place where I am 'centered' or find 'balance', it is out there on the deep sea, where the days' tensions can be wiped away by the sight of a broaching whale, inevitable "personality conflicts" put into perspective by a sunset or sunrise.
I have been ashore since late in February, and confess that the yearning is upon me. As much as I enjoyed being with Lucy in New York, as much pleasure as walking Delany and enjoying the woods behind our little house gave me, as much as I treasure those nights at the museum where I volunteer, introducing guests to the wonders of the night sky and our own central star--the call of the sea beckons.
I'll be there soon.
I'll be there soon.