A New Sail

Any old headline would do today, such as –

Meanwhile, In A Parallel Universe…

The Life And Times Of… US!!

If You Can’t Stand The Heat…

And In Other News…

But first, a short, much-needed rant –

“these new facts are disturbing…”
“This new information simply is not true…”
“I find this to be unsettling, and potentially corrupt …”
“That tweet was puzzling to me…”

Puzzling?! Disturbing?! Come ON, you spineless cretins! Can NO ONE stand up to our political corruption, our racial murders and our country, so horrendously divided right now!

I am finding these liberal bullshit answers to the constant exposing of the continuing illegal behavior by the white house and the republican senate to be frustrating, maddening, empty of action, devoid of any opposing direction. It’s gotten so frustrating to see no positive movement against the corrupt white house that has turned our “democracy” into a fully-functioning dictatorship. The democrats’ pathetic inability to fight the current administration is as disheartening to me as the republican senate’s gutless inactivity coupled with the sad response of the white house to this coronavirus. Then, to top it all off, it appears that I can no longer shake hands with anyone. What?? I’ve lived my entire life on handshakes, have made probably over a half a million dollars on jobs without any paperwork, simply a handshake. And now you tell me that it’s become too dangerous?!  I. am. over. it.

End Of Rant

So you know, that is barely the tip of my iceberg. But that’s enough. Some of you are probably already pissed and have deleted this. So be it. Time to bail from the sad and depressing realities of our nation’s situation today and get a better overview of life by taking a sail on my trusty “Aimless.”

It’s been a long winter season and it’s great being back on the Aimless. Aaahh. As soon as I push away from the shore I start really breathing again! Weird. I’m immediately hit by the power of Nature, how consistent she is. The light breeze still has a chill in it, and as soon as I’m out in the Sound I build a fire in the little stove, put on some water for a cup of tea. The quiet calm of the Sound feels like a bit of culture shock, after the winter I’ve spent in front of the tv, observing our cultural madness unfold.

This is how the world is supposed to be. Not my way, not anybody’s way, just Nature’s way. Yes, there are brutal storms, yes there are massive fires, floods, extreme weather, sometimes unimaginable. But always, always, the earth returns to normal, as beautiful as before. Often different, yes… but always as beautiful, and still in balance with itself.

Of course it changes, it’s a mortal existence, after all. Everything changes, always, in this dimension. Nature rolls with it effortlessly. Humans, not so much. I am struck by the relative peace and contentment that comes over me now, almost as if the Sound is telling me that everything is still in place, everything is still all right, regardless of mankind’s flailing about on the mainland. Why don’t I do this more often? Hell, for that matter, why don’t I just live here full time and let the mainland madness destroy itself? Ah, a pregnant question, too heavy for a simple cup of tea.

I’ve lived so much of my life in the intangible realm, the realm of music. Yet i feel Nature touching me here, singing to me, reminding me of a different music… that of the gentle waves against the raft, the wind in the sail, the silence of a calmness that defies description. Sure, I hear the occasional distant whisper of a jet overhead, but even that simply reminds me of where I am, how I feel right now, how remote and removed from all the elements that tightens my neck muscles and intrudes into the part of my brain that would much rather sing and be at peace.

It is so easy to love life out here… it’s like I’m living real life out here, and life back on the island isn’t quite real, or at least as real as it is here. Not a religious man. A spiritual one? Yes. Yet I feel right now that I’m in great hands in the natural world, that it has my back, that it protects me and loves me as long as I live with it, go with its flow, follow its heart. And right now, that is a very easy thing to do. It’s an “open-eyed” meditation, and there is a touch of enlightened softness in the air that is magical to me. My god, if only we would re-embrace the natural world and stop trying to kill each other… how tragically far we have strayed from the initial important elements of our human existence!

But the tea tastes great, and the worst thing I could do right now is drag these negative thoughts out here with me. But wait, perhaps I need to drag them out here to die a natural death on the sea of Reality. I like it! Excellent! And so, die you dogs, you hounds of hell and heartache! Die, whither, explode and dissipate in the North Sound Breeze!

Every Man For Himself!

Seems like it sometimes, especially right now. But it can’t be that way, can’t work that way. Life is way too complicated to navigate it successfully alone… can’t be done, at least not now. Oh, there are the exceptions, naturally, but you can count them on one hand. Glen Villeneuve lives year ‘round in the Brooks Range of Alaska, as close to solitary as one can get. I watch the show, Life Below Zero, that often features him, in total awe. He shoots his own animals, catches his own fish, carries his own water, chops his own wood. He has several axes, a few tools and nails, some twine and rope, a hand gun and a rifle. But even Glen needs someone to make the bullets… plus, he’s married and has kids… you get the idea.

The wind has changed, turning the Aimless slowly back toward land, as if assuring me I’m doing the right thing here and to not worry. I finish my tea and turn the sail a bit to catch the friendly breeze a touch better. This euphoric feeling is not unlike what we jazz musicians feel when we’re all playing together, playing things in our solos that we know we could not have thought of on our own. At some point in our playing, another energy takes over, lifting us, inspiring us, and reminding us that, at those magical moments, we have become simply vessels for the expression of a higher power, through our music. And that, my friends, is why so many jazz musicians are spiritual, why so many of them become drug addicts. Once we’ve been made aware of, and moved, by a force from a dimension other than our own, we ofter question it, began searching for it, trying to somehow make it a tangible thing that we can actually see and understand. It doesn’t work, it never works. We can, however, revisit it often through our music, time and again, until most of us come to realize it is a real thing even in its intangibility. Yet even then, that realization usually doesn’t keep us from chasing it, trying to harness it, trying to make it an “every moment” event in our daily lives, simply because it feels so damn good! I am reminded of an old Buddhist saying, or maybe it was the Sufis… that if we somehow instantly became enlightened, it would blow our minds, and we would sit in a corner, muttering to ourselves for the rest of our lives. I believe that.

For some reason I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a guy way back in ’72. I was in Toronto, visiting my old friend Joe The Bear, and he had taken me with him to a cocktail party on the York U. campus. He introduced me to a few people and this one guy was interested in “the American musician.” At one point I remember he asked me what I wanted from life. I told him my idea of success would be to be a successful musician and have $10K in the bank. Joe The Bear was listening in and he smirked, “Who wouldn’t like to have $10K in the bank? Not very realistic, however…”
Then the Canadian gentleman asked if I’d thought about marriage, and kids. I had just rolled in from a fun vacation in Nova Scotia and was feeling fairly full of myself. With my only sport jacket on, a fat drink in my hand and feeling all worldly, I replied, “Oh god no! Not marriage, and especially not kids! I would never bring a child into this screw-up world!” The gentleman raised his eyebrows and slowly moved away.

Should never have said “never.” 14 years later my then-wife Lisa bore us a son, Dillon Harley. I obviously was not thinking of the screwed-up world right about then. But I am, now. Dillon is 34, and is about to have to deal with the most screwed-up world most of us can imagine… far worse than I was able to imagine back in ’72. And a thought like that could pretty much ruin what might otherwise be a blissful afternoon sail on a calm sea. Except for one redeeming thought. He can access the real world of nature in all its splendor nearly any time he needs to. The same Salish Sea that calms my soul can calm his. The same timbered mountains of Montana with its still-pristine streams splashing and gurgling down into the valleys… all that, and the quiet peace that it brings to heart and soul, is still his whenever he needs it. They will heal his aches, silence his fears and will reassure him that, in this real world, all is still very well. The beauty and quiet strength of the natural world will replenish and invigorate him. As it does me.

Steve Hulse

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