You may think me crazy, but I assure you that I am not. It’s just that these people around me seem so much bigger than they are sometimes. With their great noises and unending motion, their motor-run mouths and the space they take. When you truly stop, breathe, and stare, there’s something in the disorder that sweeps you away, pulling you into its current. They do not sway like the ship on days of heavy wind. They vibrate. Oftentimes, I along with them, buzz at high frequency. It’s how you stay afloat here.
Schedules strain time and effort from you until the day’s end leaves you a shallow and frail husk. Most days it’s fine, some days it’s not. Some days are simply impossible to keep up with, but you are taken along anyway. It’s what the schedule demands. The schedule does not wait for your fatigue to dissipate, it does not dodder around in anticipation of the right time or the right feeling before work is done. It sweeps you up in its chaos and keeps on chugging.
It is not simply the people and the tasks. Alone, these are alright. They are manageable and moldable in my mind, easy things to defeat. But sometimes they mold into an abominable, monstrous giant, that even the sharpest slices of sword would not defeat. It rises up and takes you down from within, stripping you of sanity with a deafening blow. Some days are like this.
You may think me crazy, but it is because of this that I find peace closer to the sky. Somehow, I now have no trouble with a thread-thin ladder twisting in the wind. I have no issue with the high consequences promised upon a fatal slip of the hand or foot. I cannot think of a problem with the tantalizing concrete below, threatening a permanent sleep. It is aloft where things settle, you see. The people, with problems holding them high and tight on days of strain, towering over me like foreboding structures, shrink to near nothings when seen from so high above. They are but ants in a farm, hustling from one place to the next with a dutiful and constant march. I see them as lines on the ground. It is the schedules that keep them there, keep me there, that become so arbitrary. Aloft, your mind begins to wander when it realizes it finally has the space and time to do so. It wanders far and it wanders high. I’m starting to think this is where much of the appeal lies. Not in the detoxing rush of adrenaline distracting from the tension of the day, nor the sight of crewmates transformed into dots along the boat belly. Peace is sourced not from what is below, but all that is above. The nothingness in its entirety. A sky of blue and an undefined horizon that gives off an illusion that the blue, mystical and empty, stretches into eternity.
It was a man that spoke in rhythms and conducted himself with an eccentric jauntiness that brought me there. His name was Gabe. I speak in terms of days passed because he is elsewhere now. He left with the turn of school seasons and did not glance back. We parted with a high-five. Still, his spirit lingers here, and I will not forget the gusto with which is stormed up that ladder on our first encounter. He did not tell me all this before, nor mention it in passing anytime after. He never spoke of the euphoria of the above and of the empty. Perhaps if he had, I would not have had such a challenging hoisting my beat carcass up the braided ladder into what I discovered was a special kind of paradise.
A view of the sunrise from the Upper Top Sail, overlooking a slab of an island just off of Samana. It has been claimed by an adults-only resort, though few guests have been spotted frolicking on the turquoise shore.
No, it was not that at all. I was terrified at the start. I was a climber in a previous life, one that existed before the ship. I enjoy a heart-fluttering height as much as the next fellow, so long as security is ensured.
That whole “peace” thing really comes out up there. When you settle from a shaky ascent into a carved-out nook on the spreaders. The sails flap at your front, stretching down, far down, and touching a terrestrial world much too distant for your concern. Your mind is not there, nor here. It is gone. It has skipped away in the wind like that bird that was just resting on the stay.
I watched a sunset just the other day. It’s different up there, especially since I am often swept away in that inevitable current, diving into my own hustle-and-bustle, filling time with things but not so much with thought. I do not watch sunsets on deck, but I think like the vitamins slurped and squeezed from meals, a recommended value ought to exist. Not every day. Sometimes it’s alright to get lost in this chaos. Converse with the giants and consider their valiant opinions. Let yourself go limp and let routine sweep you up, removing thought from action.
The view from above.
But not always, and that’s when I put rubber sole to ladder.
Written by: Bianca, Class Afloat Student 2017-2018