Today was a beautiful day to be on the ocean. Apart from the squally patches (of which there were several) it was a day of waves and whitecaps and sunshine.
I saw a school of flying fish for the first time since I set out on the Indian Ocean. First I noticed a storm petrel flapping its wings – an unusual sight, as they prefer to glide effortlessly, or to skim low over the waves, riding the cushion of air in front of a swell. Then I noticed a second petrel, and they were both flapping, and diving at the water. Suddenly about twenty flying fish took flight, their silver bodies gleaming. Three or four times they broke from the waves, covering twenty or thirty feet at a leap. Against the deep blue of the water they looked especially gorgeous.
Then they disappeared from sight, and the petrels were left to wheel around, which they did spectacularly, like two test pilots daring each other to ever greater feats of aerobatics. And I felt genuinely lucky to be here to witness their show.
My enjoyment of the day was enhanced by the book I finished and the book I started, which by accident rather than design complemented each other well. The book I finished was The Call of the Weird: Encounters with Survivalists, Porn Stars, Alien Killers, and Ike Turner by Louis Theroux, a British writer and documentary film maker. In it he revisits various American characters that had been the subjects of some documentaries about ten years previously – pimps, prostitutes, gangsta rappers, white supremacists, dodgy self help gurus and cultists. The second book was a novel by Jodi Picoult, called Change of Heart, about a convicted murderer on death row who appears to be the source of a number of miracles. The common thread between the two books? Beliefs, and why we choose the beliefs that we do. According to Theroux, humans are not so much interested in truth, as in choosing beliefs that make us feel good about ourselves. Very interesting….
I had another odd dream last night. I often have a dream in which I am about to take some important exams, and I am completely unprepared. This probably originates from a not dissimilar experience I had in real life as I was coming up to my law finals at Oxford, having spent far too much time on the river and in the beer cellar, and nowhere near enough in the law library (especially if we exclude the time spent falling asleep over case studies). But in last night’s variation, when I went panic-stricken to look for my files of notes to do some last-minute swotting, the files had “350” written on the front. Meaning? Is my subconscious panicking over climate change and 350ppm? (350.org) Am I feeling guilty that I haven’t done enough and now it is too late? Luckily it was followed up with a happier dream about chocolate cake.
Angela Hey – I liked your husband’s advice: Don’t borrow worry from the future. My Auntie Mary used to have a little cream jug that had a similar motto on it: Never cloud today’s blue skies with tomorrow’s worries. Wise words indeed!
Claire in LA – we used “The Majestic Plastic Bag” video as part of our campaign for a plastic bag free Olympics. I thought it was tremendously well done – and would be even funnier if it wasn’t so heartbreakingly true.
John Kay – thank you for the classic hints for boat maintenance – very funny! Must have taken you ages to perfect it. Well worth the effort – a good laugh in the Purple Palace!
Cynthia – I’ve made a note to read What We Leave Behind – I haven’t read it, and it sounds very worthwhile. It is very true that in the natural world nothing really goes “to waste” – it all gets used up somehow – while landfill is just going to sit there for centuries to come. At best it will do nothing, and at worst it will contaminate land and water while belching methane into the air. Woody Allen said, ” I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve immortality by not dying.” Unfortunately, plastic may succeed where Woody probably won’t.
Speaking of which… apologies to Terry Pratchett for implying that he had already shuffled off this mortal coil. I am pleased to hear that rumours of his death were much exaggerated – and interested to hear that just last week a documentary aired in which he considered just how he may choose to shuffle off this mortal coil. In the UK it is still illegal for a doctor (or anybody else) to assist someone who wants the freedom to choose the time and place of their own passing, so Terry P went to Europe to investigate the options. UncaDoug, I’d be interested in your views on this.
A quote on the subject of troubles, from the inimitable Dr Seuss:
I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!
But, although amusing, I don’t think that one is especially helpful, big bats being of dubious legality in addressing problems of most types. So I will also provide an alternative bit of advice, sent to me by Roger Finch.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.
It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
Thank you, Roger.
Sponsored Miles: Diane Freeman, Chris Lynch, Jeremy Stuart, Susie Slanina – thank you for sponsoring a number of miles.