A postscript to the last two days.
This week is taking on a life of it’s own, so far as Learning from Dogs is concerned!
For when I penned Monday’s post, Running on Empty, I had not yet read George Monbiot’s essay Are We Bothered?. When I did so, it struck me as the perfect sequel to Monday’s post and formed the crux of yesterday’s post The nature of delusions. That second post also included a personal account of my delusion with regard to ocean sailing and seemed sufficiently wordy not to be extended by my further reflections.
Thus the decision to run over to a third day!
Let me offer, first of all, my own reflections to George Monbiot’s concerns. That I distill, using his words, to: “The more we consume, the less we care about the living planet.” Expanded in his concluding paragraph:
So the perennially low level of concern, which flickers upwards momentarily when disaster strikes, then slumps back into the customary stupor, is an almost inevitable result of a society that has become restructured around shopping, fashion, celebrity and an obsession with money. How we break the circle and wake people out of this dreamworld is the question that all those who love the living planet should address. There will be no easy answers.
When I first read Mr. Monbiot’s essay, I found myself nodding in agreement. Yet, upon further reflection, I became less sure that “a society that has become restructured around shopping, fashion, celebrity and an obsession with money.” was the core of the issue. I think it is a symptom.
Stay with me awhile I take a small deviation. To dogs, and other animals.
Many creatures have a powerful and instinctive means of assessing danger. One only needs to observe the wild black-tailed deer that frequent our property to know that the slightest hint of danger or the unknown has them dashing away to safety.
Dogs are the same in that they will run early on from a danger.
Humans also have the propensity to be cautious about a clear and present danger. However, it’s my proposition that when the danger is unclear and when that danger threatens the very essence of who we are and the world that we have constructed around us, we can be blind to the point of madness. I can think of many examples in support of that thesis and I’m sure you can too.
Yes, we have “a society that has become restructured around shopping, fashion, celebrity and an obsession with money.” But I contend only because of the power of capitalism, of the power of modern marketing and advertising and the allure of being ‘one of the crowd’.
So back to my proposition. It is this.
That when our lives are threatened by something unclear, complex and, ultimately, of devastating impact, we are very reluctant to embrace it and even more reluctant to both embrace it and escape to safety; whatever the latter implies.
Mankind’s effect on the environment, the rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, the increasing acidification of the oceans, the growing concerns about global weather, and on and on, are the most unclear, the most complex and the most devastating of futures to embrace.
So it really is no surprise to see mankind in general behaving as though this is a bit of a hangover, and an aspirin and a good night’s sleep will sort it! Especially when there is so much money and control invested in selling the same message; the message that there really is nothing to worry about.
There will be a so-called ‘tipping point’. A point in our awareness where the urgency to prevent the destruction of the biosphere will be paramount. And it will be a miracle if when that point arrives it isn’t far too late to save us.
I truly hope that I am wrong.
Remember what I wrote in yesterday’s post? About experiencing an Atlantic gale?
Fewer than 48-hours before my estimate of coming into Horta Marina on the Azores island of Faial, Songbird of Kent was struck by an early, fierce Winter gale. I seem to recall it was touching Force 10 Beaufort Scale (54 – 63 mph or 48 – 55 knots).
Anyway, it just about finished me off: literally as well as psychologically! I was so frightened, so utterly scared that I could think of nothing else other than getting to Horta and never going sailing again.
It revealed my delusion!
That was my ‘tipping point’ when it came to ocean sailing.
The gale subsided and I motor-sailed the 150-odd miles to Horta without any break for sleep or rest. Came into the harbour early in the morning after the second night since the gale. As soon as I was securely berthed, I closed the boat up and found a local hotel where a hot shower and a clean bed could restore a part of me.
Within a week, I had engaged a crew to sail the boat to Plymouth in South-West England and I flew back to England on a commercial airline.
Once Songbird of Kent arrived at Plymouth, she was put up for sale at a price that wouldn’t delay matters and that was that!
Oh, and I have never read any more books about single-handed ocean sailing. (But see my P.S.!)
In yesterday’s post, I referred to Les Powells. Remember when I was in Larnaca, Cyprus? This is what I wrote:
Living on a boat close to me was Les Powles. Many will not have heard of Les but this quiet, softly-spoken man knows a thing or two about solo ocean sailing. As an article in The Guardian newspaper explained (in part):
In the 1980s and 90s a British man called Les Powles sailed three times round the world – always single-handedly, once non-stop. He couldn’t afford a radio transmitter, and on his greatest adventure he didn’t speak to anyone for 329 days. At 84, his circumnavigating days are now behind him, but he still lives on his boat, the Solitaire. What’s the appeal of sailing, I asked him. “It’s the solitude. When you’re out at sea on your own, there’s no government or bankers to worry about. You’re not responsible to anyone but yourself.”
Three times around the world – solo!
Thus getting to know Les was a great inspiration in getting me over the hurdle of can I really do this! (Les once said to me “the first three days are the worst!”)
Anyway, I have discovered that Les is living happily on his boat in Lymington, England and has written a book about his sailing life.
It has been ordered and arrives today. This one will be read – from the comfort and safety of our rural home in Oregon!