Have been sailing for the last few days on the RSV Ambivalent. (Not really…
the raft is still the Aimless, it’s the captain who’s ambivalent…) The weather’s
been good, but I have mixed feelings about it. The fishing has been slow,
and I suddenly started missing TV for some reason. Finally figured out it was
nothing more than a sociopathic response to years of mindless stimulation,
usually after a day’s work of one sort or another. No work to be done here on
the raft, yet I started missing MASH, Cheers and the nightly news. Sick.
In a bad way.
I mean, c’mon! It’s absolutely great out here on the Sound right now. How could
I possibly let a bad old urban habit chase me down out here and haunt me?? It’s
stupid, that’s what it is. Stupid! If I had a library handy, I’d read about this. And
what would I find? Most likely some BS about the subconscious dredging up
past negative shit to fill a temporary gap in my present circumstance.
But I don’t want to read that crap anyway. I need answers! When it comes to
the point where I can’t be out here in this absolute heaven without needing to
watch a little mindless TV, then I need a total brain transplant. They can do
that, can’t they?
On the other hand, I’ve learned a lot from TV. I mean, damn! I just heard one
of my all-time favorite quotes on an archaeological show last week. This guy
was talking about his team’s latest discoveries. He said, “People want
to believe. And as soon as they start believing, they stop thinking.”
So yeah, I guess I love TV. And after ranting and raving about the idiocy of
reality shows, I quickly became hooked on a good half dozen of them. I love them
now. What are they? “Life Below Zero.” “Most Dangerous Catch.” “Building Wild.”
“Building Alaska.” “Alaska, The Last Frontier.” And that gold-mining show from
Alaska, with Parker in it… ah, Gold Rush. Do I learn much from all those shows?
Eh, probably not. Most of what they do is not applicable to my simple daily life.
What is applicable is their creativity and momentary response to problems.
Those people know how to invent… and survive. Here are some examples of
what they say, and how they think –
“Life – It’s a limited-time engagement, so why not pack it full of experiences?”
– Sue Aikens “Life Below Zero”
“You don’t get amazing men in this world, if they don’t overcome amazing
circumstances.” – Sons Of Winter
“There’s one thing I know for certain. In the wild, the only way you can
truly be confident in managing stress is to not be afraid to die.”
– Jeremy Keller, Edge Of Alaska
As we like to say in the bush, “We’re all out here ‘cuz we ain’t all there.”
– Sue Aikens
“Figure out who you want to be and how you want to be… and then live it…
live it honestly.”
– Sue Aikens
“You don’t prepare for your best day in life, but you gotta prepare for the worst.”
– Sue Aikens
“The only thing you know for certain out here is you don’t know nothing for certain.”
– Sue Aikens
“If we love what we do, then we have a chance to reach our full capabilities.”
– Jesse Holmes, Life Below Zero
“The level of comfort I enjoy in my life is absolutely directly related to how hard
I’ve worked to attain it.” – Sue Aikens
“This is not a lifestyle you just wander into, it is of a committed decision
to excel and over-achieve.” – Sue Aikens
From them I’ve learned to make fresh-cut logs look old, how to build a faux stone
fireplace, what a transom is, why gold is often close to quartz, how to skin and
gut a caribou, how to smoke salmon, how to keep bears out of your campsite,
how to make a chain saw into a come-along… how a failing fishing boat and its
butthead captain can suddenly be saved by a TV show that features it on a
popular satellite documentary channel. Yeah, I’ve learned a bunch, I think.
But how does it translate for me out here? Right now? It doesn’t. It doesn’t, plain
and simple. And if it doesn’t, then why do I need it, want it? I don’t much care
for the answer, but it probably is, *Because you have a lazy brain, and it needs
to detox from all this “deep and meaningful momentary experiential living now”
routine you’ve fallen into. Maybe, but no… millions of people have lived for
hundreds of thousands of years without TV. It must be that only a truly lazy,
urban brain that has had little to no experience with the daily realities of
survival and a simple life in nature, would reach out to the current technology
to fill its temporary void of…….. what? Yes, what?? Could it be that the urban
mind, my mind, has become programmed to function creatively only in very small
time increments, and that the daily outdoor life taxes it beyond what the city
demands of it? Now that I think about it, it makes sense. In many cases, we drive
to work, work, get lunch, drive home… the only critical part of our day is what
phone calls we make and how those calls go, or what we say in the meetings,
or what ideas we come up with for the Farnsworth account. There is actually a
lot of down time in that day, and if not, it’s only thinking – not doing, not surviving.
Well, surviving maybe, but in an entirely different way.
It’s hard for me to get a decent perspective on all this. It’s so much easier for
me to watch a guy cut a perfect slice out of a log with a chain saw, that another
log will fit right into, than to read about it or have someone tell me about it. So
what we might have here is a “mini media meltdown.” As you read this, I’m in
the process of copyrighting that phrase, knowing that it’s going to be the
buzz-phrase for the next maybe 5-10 minutes…
No, I think I might have this conundrum figured out. It is very likely a matter
of thinking things through and then doing. Yeah, it’s probably true… I do have
a lazy brain, but it’s a cultural anomaly born of this high-tech age, and not
my fault. We have allowed ourselves to become somewhat programmed to
thinking in more nebulous, than practical, terms. “Nebulous” thinking
isn’t easy, necessarily, but it’s damn sure easier than survival thinking,
which can get suddenly very important, and needs decisions NOW. Example,
you’re trying to come up with something for tomorrow morning’s board meeting,
Or… you’ve just got your campfire going well and there’s a disturbance behind
your tent, and then, a bear! And your rifle is in your truck, if you even have
a rifle. Get the difference?
So maybe I don’t have a lazy brain. Perhaps my brain is simply tired from
thinking myself through survival of our culture for 50 years. Who knows? I might well be a mental mess. If so, I don’t care to know. I took psych 101 as a freshman, thinking I would love it, and it was a huge waste of time… I hated it. Good teachers make all the difference, after all.
Think I’ll drift into shore and sleep in the trees tonight. That sounds good.
But the wind has died, the water’s calm… if I stay out here, I’ve got that
smoked salmon and some Jameson’s. The night sky should be fantastic.
Shit. I hate these decisions.