The Sound And The Fury

Back out on the North Sound on my trusty Aimless. It’s quiet, peaceful, as if
everything else in the rest of this mad, mad world isn’t really happening. Blue
sky, puffy white clouds, very slight breeze, water a deep blue with barely a riffle.
The Olympic Mountains and Peninsula behind me, the beautiful Cascades
and Mount Baker in front of me… why in the hell don’t I do this more often?

My little raft seems to be almost smiling out here in the sunshine. I can’t hear
the water against the side of the raft, but I can smell it, sweet, mixed in with
the occasional scent of pine and spruce from the shore line, and the seagulls
crying overhead! As often as I see all this in one form or another, still the
natural beauty of this place can overwhelm me. Like right now… the sights,
the smells, the sounds, absolute magic!

I could fish, but I have enough food for a few days, and there are a lot of
fishermen over on the west coast already… I’m told the fishing has been
great this season. Right now I’m in harmony with all nature. I don’t need it
to sustain me, I just need it to remind me how beautiful the world can be
when we don’t screw it up.

It’s so simple, it should be so simple… to just stop, look around at the world
as I see it right now, and say to ourselves, “Look at all this. This is what
sustains us. All we have to does take care of it, nurture it, not strip it and
rob it of what it does naturally, of what it does best. Are we so stupid that…
no, let’s not even go there.

I’m out here because I cannot stand to see where our country is headed
right now. I was on the edge of a meltdown when B told me to go for a
sail, clear the air and the head. Clearing my heart would be more like it.
My heart is so heavy with a sadness and hopelessness… not only for our
government, but for our people, our culture, how we’re falling apart at
the very seams. Honesty, integrity, inclusivity, all have been thrown under
the bus by our “democracy,” and by our inability to find a way to right this
sinking ship. Our whole country is slipping into the mire, and we can’t seem
to find the backbone we used to be famous for.

Which is why I’m out here right now. The peace, the tranquility, the harmony
that nature embodies… the balance that it possesses when we’re not there
to mess it up. Even nature’s storms are nourishing and revitalizing… it all
works – without us.

I’m getting old, and I’m getting tired. When I first went to college, students
had to take the class, History of Western Civilization, only when they couldn’t
get into the classes they really wanted. Reading and learning about the history
of civilization, as I have started to do recently, only helps to sink my attitude
deeper into the mire. Through centuries we haven’t really changed, appears
we can’t change, but only roller coaster our way through time and space. Our
history becomes an evidence of a civilization containing signs of brilliance
and prosperity, but instead falls victim, over and over and over again, to the
tenets of hate, greed, power and religious self-righteousness. It appears we
will never find harmony among ourselves in any form except in small
numbers of us to understand, and help each other survive. There appears to
be a tipping point, in which a group becomes a mob, in which the mob
becomes a murderous band of sheep, and every time, it seems, a charismatic,
power-mongering asshole rises up from the muck to direct them, to lead them.
And they follow. Oh god, how they follow…

Last summer I was out here for the same reason, but not even imagining
how much worse it has gotten within the last year. I remember being depressed
then… now I’m devastated. As beautiful, as tranquil as it is out here on the
Sound right now, it seems to only magnify the difference between here and
the madness on the mainland. B and I live on an island, nearly as far away from
the festering center of our politics as one can get… yet suddenly it isn’t far
enough. Though I can’t hear the screams of the shooting victims out here, I
feel them, I hurt for them, and I weep for our country’s horrendous demise.
Past civilizations have experienced mass madness before, but we haven’t,
and this has become a nightmare I doubt any of us realized could possibly
manifest. But history tells us we should have seen it coming, that this is what
we do in large numbers, this is our legacy, warped and inhumane as it is.

I might as well set the sail and paddle on in. The Sound is not working for
me this time. Rather it’s simply reminding me of the incredible difference
between its calm balance of logic and reason as opposed to the raging seas
of hate, oppression and destruction we find mankind thrashing around in.
I actually slipped into the water for a few minutes and swam around the raft,
hoping I could pull myself out, cold and breathless, with a new perspective,
a little hope for our future… well, I got out cold and breathless all right, feeling
very alive and grateful for where I am, and for who I am.

We live in such an incredible world. I crawled back onto the Aimless, heart
pounding, senses alive, to towel off, warm up and take stock. I’m fine, and
nature, out here, feels like it’s hanging on. Our Orcas are dying from lack of
salmon, our salmon can’t get to their spawning grounds because we’ve
restricted their waterways… our forests are burning up. We’ve lost control,
and now that I think of it, that might, ultimately, be a good thing. As I slip into
my fleece and prepare to run the sail up, I know that an invigorating swim in
Puget Sound cannot change my perception of our culture. And that perception
sees our country as fighting for its white power, perhaps for the last time,
with every element of fear, hatred and divisiveness they can muster to hold on
to their power. I know, intuitively, that it won’t work. Our country has become
a multi-racial wonderland of possibility, and even some of us white folk see it,
accept it, embrace it. The United States Of America is no longer a white nation…
it has become, and will remain and grow into, a beautiful multi-racial country
that will once again lead the world in nature conservation, humanitarian
concerns and economic and social change to the benefit of all. B and I won’t
be here to see it, but it will appear to be a magical rebirth of a stagnant and
sick democracy that had to be jump-started by a multi-racial youth movement
that enough Americans got behind to bring its country back to prominence.
But… as I raise my modest sail and head the Aimless toward the eastern
shore, we haven’t hit rock bottom yet, though it certainly feels like it. I sense
we’ll hit it in 2020, right before the elections… rock bottom, and it won’t
be pretty. I just hope B and I are Villa Buonosera in Tuscany when it happens.

Steve Hulse

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