A human being is part of a whole called by us “the universe”, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening the circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
In the moments where I can’t find comfort in where it’s all headed and I can’t seem to affect as much change as I’d like…there is one thing I try to do that seems to help in a small, but important way. Connect with the moment…connect with the people right around me and also those far away that I’ll never meet. Make it not about me, but about broadening whatever feeling or subject is bothering me, to incorporate all the other people in the world feeling the same way. Whether it’s anger or sadness or confusion or frustration, there’s always someone else in the same ‘boat’ and many worse…By thinking about the rest of those beings, I connect with the rest of the universe and get some perspective on the situation. I tap into the One Love, One Heart that is in all of us. It’s a beautiful thing! When the guy in the line behind you looks super hurried and stressed out, let him go in front of you. Or the surfer who is struggling to catch a wave…GIVE him ONE?! A smile to a stranger might be just what they needed in that moment. Imagine that lady in traffic who needs to get over into your lane as your mother…let her in!
This voyage has taught me to view all people as my family, all the kids like they are my kids, and to love and respect all creatures like they are my equals. We’re all one at the roots. We all feel the same feelings and have the same wants, and connecting to that makes you a part of something big, powerful, and often indescribably beautiful. By acting with patience and kindness, we can perpetuate love, connectedness, compassion, light, and peace in the world!! It takes practice and awareness…Some days I feel more up to it than others…but the beauty is that if you GIVE and connect when you can, and when you feel too tired or YOU’RE in a hurry…the goodness, the favors come back around.
Although at first glance, this doesn’t appear to be an ‘environmental issue’, I believe what Einstein describes above–our “optical delusion of consciousness”–is at the root of human problems, thus, I might go so far as to claim that practicing compassion is the at the root of healing our environment! So alongside limiting our use of ‘SINGLE-USE PLASTICS’, having a kind heart is something I believe we can do everyday to heal the world!
…So after a week or more of putting things back in their places aboard Swell, she became a livable, sailable vessel again. But between the boat work, checking in with friends around the island, collecting trash in the lagoon, making sure Helmut was as ornery as usual, writing emails, and pondering how to save the world…I found myself spread thinner then usual. But when, Eric, a single hander from Seattle aboard his Cal 33, ‘Secret Agent Man’ introduced himself and asked if I could teach him some yoga before he continued his voyage west. “Of course!” I told him. “Come back at sunset…”
Swell’s boarded cockpit served as our yoga platform that evening. I guided him through the basics of a sun salutation along with a series of poses I find particularly great for boat life. Afterward, I whipped up a veggie stir-fry and we chat about the state of affairs in the world—plastic, peace, Polynesia, and polar ice caps were some of the subjects covered, and how sometimes I just feel like I can’t do enough! “I’m exhausted,” I finally told him.
The next morning I prepped Swell for sea. The urge to be in blue water was like an unreachable itch. Just when I needed a hand to put the dinghy on deck, Eric came over to say goodbye. He helped get Miti Miti and the engine all squared away, and then pulled out a book and read me a quote about compassion and the way of a warrior of peace and light. The last part described a condition called ‘compassion fatigue’, wherein the person gives out too much compassionate energy without restoring himself. He subsequently diagnosed me with the condition…
I laughed. I felt honored. We bid each other fair winds, and I assured him that just beyond the edge of reef, I would get a chance to ‘refill’. I pointed Swell’s bow to sea…With bright blue skies, 10-12 knots of breeze, and just enough of a wind angle to point toward my upwind destination, the glittering Pacific welcomed me…I relished the routine sail-setting and adjusted the wind vane with a smile. Swell heeled into an easy, close-hauled reach. I sat in the shade contemplating the whole of it all…
The island in my wake slowly shrank. Soon the details blurred together. I could no longer see the trees or houses, just the green outlines of the mountains with clouds gathering around their peaks. The lulling of my oceanic cradle rocked me into a light sleep. With each breath, the peace of the open sea restored me…