We didn’t mean to go to sea, and some days are easier than others.
Today was ok, for the most part. Yesterday was dreadful. Yesterday my mind and body were so full of frustration and sadness, I didn’t want to carry on sailing endlessly to nowhere. On this little ship we don’t know where we are going, I hope that we are going somewhere, but the ocean is so vast. It appears that we could spend the rest of our lives out here without meeting anyone ever again. I wonder what that would be like, perhaps I shouldn’t wonder.
I love the fact that the ocean is so deep in places that nobody has been there, eighty per cent of the ocean remains unmapped, unobserved and unexplored. Apparently more people have walked on the surface of the moon than have been into the Mariana trench in the Pacific ocean (one of the deepest parts of the ocean). The ocean floor is very dangerous for many reasons, some parts are hotter than 400°C, some parts are freezing, it’s very dark down there, the pressure is immense, and of course there are sea monsters. Sea monsters are swimming about beneath my feet and nobody has ever seen them, apart from maybe Jason and the Argonauts. I find it wonderful that people cannot explore the deep ocean; it makes me very happy indeed.
I read that there are places on Earth, on the land, that are so inaccessible that nobody has ever been there, and there are still a few tribes which remain un-contacted. One such tribe live on the North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal, this tribe are so violently aggressive to anyone who tries to make contact with them that they are left alone to get on with whatever they are up to. Those people are living. I imagine what it must be like to be a part of a society that hasn’t been polluted by modern industrial doom. But I can’t imagine, I can only fantasise really. Perhaps it is also a fantasy to imagine that they are peaceful, equal societies. Keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t wash up on North Sentinel Island!
As a child I spent a huge amount of time reading the National Geographic magazine, I was completely in love with it. In particular I loved to look at and read about tribal people, I found them utterly fascinating. There is one picture that stayed in my mind in particular, which was of a young warrior with amazing facial piercings. I thought I would grow up and visit those tribal people, or maybe I thought I could join them. It makes me laugh now, and a little sad, that my life is so different than I thought it would be as a child.
If I could choose an era to go and live in (which some people might suggest I already have done, but I say to them ‘yeah whatever’) I think I would go back to about twenty five thousand years ago and be a hunter-gatherer, and take my chances. Of course I would want to be born into that life, not get in a time machine and go there because I would probably last about five minutes in my modern garb with my modern attitude. But I can light fire by friction at least and make twine from nettles and willow bark. I’d be just fine I am sure.
I cannot imagine anything more wonderful than experiencing the world before the human race got so big and out of control and went around rampaging and mindlessly changing everything. Even if it meant I got eaten by a sabre tooth tiger I’d be up for it. Of course I like loo roll and other helpful aspects of modern life like books, but I am pretty sure that is because I don’t have any other options.
It feels strange that the actions of past human beings has led to the curtailment of our freedom in terms of the possibilities for exploration of our beautiful planet, or perhaps it is that exploration that has led to the degradation of so much of the planet, that now perhaps we all really need to stay at home. People are not content with the surroundings they are born in to. There seems to be so much of “there must be more to life than this” so people go looking for it far away. I am sure there must be something wonderful about travelling the world and seeing all the diversity in cultures and landscapes, flora and fauna (and that must have been what I was doing as a child from my bedroom with the National Geographic).
I haven’t really travelled the world very much, not as much as I would like to have done, I have instead spent my whole adult life having children and being too poor to really travel far from home.
I also fell completely in love with England when I came home from Ireland. I am utterly in love with the luscious green landscapes of England and our indigenous animals. I find it remarkable that we have wild animals left but they are usually very hard to see.
One of my favourite animals is the badger, when I first saw a badger in the flesh I was really surprised by how large it was. I was walking down a road at about two o’clock in the morning with a man with whom I was hitching around Ireland. (oh ok I was still in Ireland at that point). Clearly that day it had been a rather unsuccessful hitch and we were looking for somewhere to camp. Actually I can’t work out at all why it took until 2am to decide to start looking for a camp.
Anyhow I was walking along when I looked into the field next to me and there was a real live badger trotting alongside me! It looked at me with nonchalance and went on its way. I stood staring in amazement at its casual attitude. Well if that badger saw scruffy hippies every night of the week at 2am, I certainly didn’t see badgers!
I have seen a great many badgers since and now have a bit more of an understanding for its indifference to my presence. Badgers frequently trot around the lanes late at night around Glastonbury Tor, and I think the reason for their nonchalance is their size and stature. A big badger at 2am came running down a single track lane towards me and it didn’t take me more than a second to realise that it was me who would have to stand aside! They really are a force to be reckoned with.
Deer are dear to me too (dreadful pun). One night a couple of years ago, when I was living in my little bus in an orchard where I was making a living by picking up rocks (never again I said to myself after a few weeks, although I have considered it since) I was walking back to my bus in the dark on one of those nights when the moon is absent, most inconsiderately. It was properly dark, the kind of dark where you can’t see more than a few inches in front of your face and you have to feel fairly confident about where you are going. I was walking through the fields back to my bus which we had managed to park about a ten minute walk from the road, when I stumbled blindly into a herd of deer. This was an extremely frightening moment for me, and probably the deer too! I think I actually touched one, how on earth I was walking silently enough for them not to notice me until I was amongst them, I will never know. I suppose I was trying to walk quietly so as not to be spotted by any passing monsters or demons from other realms (because that is way more likely than walking into a herd of deer).
It had never occurred to me that I could walk into a herd of deer, or indeed that deer hung out in quite such large groups, in the dark, in orchards. Once I was amongst the deer a wave of panic went through them and they charged away with loudly galloping feet, leaving me crouching on the ground feeling bewildered and desperately trying not to allow myself to bolt in the opposite direction which would have led to my getting completely lost in the dark. Once I had regained my composure and realised that I wasn’t about to be eaten by otherworldly figments of my overactive imagination I stood up and made my wobbly way back to my bus.
I feel that in terms of exploration what we are left with, if we really care at all about planet earth and her creatures, is our local areas and our minds. My mind feels a bit like an unexplored ocean at times, I never know what I will find there, I don’t think there is anything too scary lurking in the depths, but I do believe it could be almost as exciting as the Bermuda triangle, things disappear there never to be seen again, while other things appear that I seriously was not expecting.