A Midsummer Cruise

Time for another quiet cruise on the North Sound. This one is as much for my mental health as it is to simply “get out into the real world.”

The Rosario Strait, San Juan Islands and Mount Baker

Once I get out in the Sound, there’s a decent breeze… just right! The smell of the sea air, the ducks floating nearby, a big container ship in the distance, I realize that once again this is an inspired idea, just to get out here and check in with reality. I plan to stay out here two days this time, as the weather has been so beautiful here for the past week. Right now I’m wearing a long sleeve sweat shirt, as the temp out here is in the low ’60’s.

I have some lemonade on the Aimless, along with some coffee, tea and brandy. Am boiling some water for some tea, and I’m going to spike it with the brandy today. Hell, it’s August and B and I have been quarantined for over 4 months!. Time for a little self-indulgence, perhaps a little celebration. Only thing that could make this better is if some Orcas came by and breached, and if B were here with me.

A day like this makes me wonder – is reality found in a corporate board meeting, or out here on the North Sound? Easy, depends upon our perception of what is real to us. Out here on the Sound is my reality. I always hated meetings of any kind. The last meeting I attended was a group meeting at the UU church in Atlanta. I was defending an idea of some kind, and this one woman looked at me and said sarcastically, “Oh, you love mankind all right. It’s people you can’t stand…” Actually, I think she had it backward. It’s people I love… I just can’t stand mankind. The lying, the greed, the massive selfishness of the species… I could go on and on. I’d better pour that tea…

As I sip my spiked tea and look out across the sound to the distant mountains, I think about why I love it out here so much. Oh hell, a hundred reasons! For one thing, everything that touches my senses is pleasant… the views are gorgeous, the smells of the sea air are delicious, the feel of the breeze and the sound of the water splashing against the raft are instant reminders of how good life is on the Sound. We’ve messed nature up in so many places, and in so many horrific ways, but not here. It feels, right now, like i’m the first person to ever be here, to see it, to experience it.

And there’s something else, something I can’t put my finger on. It’s almost a feeling, a difference… as if something’s missing, and being replaced by something else – something important, necessary, powerful but not visible. But what the hell is it?? Maybe I’m simply imagining something that doesn’t exist. So I sip my tea and continue to sit here, looking around and enjoying the moment. Damn, this tea is really good today!

Then it finally hits me! It’s Nature’s little secret, maybe even little joke that she holds on me… and on us! Can’t believe that I never noticed this, or figured it out until now! Sheesh! Because everything I’m experiencing out here right now is honest… and dead true! Unbleleveable! That skiff of tiny waves the brushes over the water is caused by the wind. The water is responding to the wind in the exact amount that it’s being affected by it. Even my sail is responding in an exact amount that it’s being affected by the breeze. The seagulls are doing exactly what they want to do at the moment, whether gliding for pleasure or looking for food. The tide is responding exactly to the moon above and the rotational force of Mother Earth herself. And what has finally become evident to me in all this? The truth of it all! Everything I see, feel and experience out here is totally true! Everything. Even the sound of the waves splashing against The Aimless is exactly how loud it should be, given the force and size of the waves. All this truth, all around me, everywhere! Ha! And in all this truth, now I see what is missing out here… lies, and deception!

How weird, to finally realize this, to not have known it all along. It follows in all of Nature. The blatant truth that is so inherent in Nature, yet we fail to acknowledge it. The flowers grow in exact accordance with how much sun and rain they get. And yet there is also some predictable randomness in Nature, but never with lies. Even in the predatory killing of a small animal by a larger one, there is an inherent truth in it all. All sentient beings live and die, the earth warms and cools in direct relation to the sun and the weather patterns. A hurricane force wind blows across a stand of trees… some will snap while others will bend and survive. The reason some trees snap and some don’t are all for honest, truthful reasons, proving to me, at least, that even the random actions of Nature are honest, straightforward, true.

Am wondering why this concept is so new to me right now, and why it’s suddenly so important? Ha! That’s easy! Because the human situation on the mainland has become so conditioned to lying and deceiving, that I notice its absence out here, where there appears to be none of it. Humanity is showing its ugly ass in ways they never taught us in school, in ways I would never have imagined. Yet here, right now, Nature is telling me that all is still basically just as it was, just as it has always been. Sure, there’s a problem with the water down on the shore close to Seattle, a reddish toxic bloom of algae of some sort. Of course some of our ocean has tons of plastic floating in it, (and now masks!) killing the sea life. But here on the North Sound… none of that. Just the silent promise that Mother Earth is the world’s best house cleaner, and so far has been able to repair much of what we’ve done to her. I keep thinking that one day the earth will finally shake all of mankind off the whole planet, like a tick off a dog. One thing is certain in my mind, we would absolutely deserve it!

This “basic truth” of Nature has answered another question for me – virtually all man-made structures begin to look dated over time… behind the times, out of step, old. On the other hand, a forest on a mountainside, a green, fertile valley, anything in Nature, never looks old fashioned, out of date. To me, anyway, nature always looks fresh, new, vibrant, welcoming. I see now that one of the reasons for this is Nature’s timeless truth, its sincerity of intent, its absolute dependence upon everything else in its vast system to survive and flourish. Absolute truth, for mankind, is pretty much a myth, a concept perhaps, but something to never actually be achieved. Yet here is Nature, showing it to us every day and every night, showing us how it can be, and how beautiful the results usually are.

Do we learn from it? Can we learn from it? Hell no. It’s not how we’re wired, and history has shown us time and again that, as a species on this planet, we haven’t learned shit about how to live together and grow toward a lasting truth, a lasting peace. There are pockets of us who desperately want that and work toward it every day. But we are obviously a pathetic minority, with but a tiny voice in the daily workings of the huge economic machinery that has been in place, and in power, for nearly two centuries. And our corporations’  silent but overwhelming credo right now sounds very much like, “Nobody ever got rich on the truth!”

Well, maybe not. I know I’m in the vast minority when I feel as I do right now…. that the sounds of the gulls, the smell of sea water mixed deliciously with distant pines and sun on my face are FAR more satisfactory to me than would be a fat bank account right now. All this, right here, right now, is our true and real wealth! The Great Outdoors is my fat bank account, and I don’t have to tell a single lie to have it and enjoy it. What a luxury! What a blessing! It’s the simple things, after all.

My spiked tea is gone, and it has done more than its job already… I feel great! It’s such a gorgeous afternoon… what the hell… I think I’ll have another!

Steve Hulse