There’s a necessary provisionality about day to day life aboard a ship – plans and timetables are changed by seemingly innumerable variables.

A ship’s captain and an entire crew must be among the world’s most flexible people – always having eyes and ears for what happened yesterday, what is happening now, and what looks most likely to happen tomorrow – and all the hours, minutes and ‘watches’ in between. The effects of Covid-19 are just the latest arrivals to voyaging complexity.

And every day I notice their calm and grace. Captain and crew appear largely unruffled by pretty much whatever’s going on. Challenges are met with a high degree of equanimity. Ship life, it is recognised, can be decidedly unpredictable, and a ship’s company has no choice but to respect that.

After recent Canarian warmth we’re now ploughing through moderate to rough seas, rain, and thick, low, grey cloud. Most of the passengers onboard will disembark tomorrow amid a flurry of intense activity, to be replaced with an entirely new company of adventurers. And the processes of making new acquaintances, heading back towards blue skies, warmth and a host of new provisionalities will – hopefully – begin again for captain, crew, and lucky me.

And between sunrise and sunset I find myself reflecting on new clarity in the phrases ‘going with the flow,’ ‘weathering the storm,’ and ‘riding the waves.’ And my well-loved favourite stanza from Louis Macneice’s Mutations echoes in every fibre of my being:

For every static world that you or I impose
Upon the real one must crack at times and new
Patterns from new disorders open like a rose
And old assumptions yield to new sensation;
The Stranger in the wings is waiting for his cue,
The fuse is always laid to some annunciation.

photo FOCL

8 thoughts on “Variables

    1. It’s humbling, Lori, isn’t it? – and at the same time comforting – to know that we’re not in control of anything much really. Of course we must learn to manage ourselves as best we can, but gradually becoming ever more attuned to ‘flow’ is one of life’s surprise gifts 🎁😘✨

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      1. Yes. I think there’s a relief that comes when you realize that you can’t control all the variables. If the pandemic has taught us nothing else, it has taught us that. And you are absolutely right…the delight that comes with allowing yourself to ‘go with it’ and see what happens is oftentimes profound. I’m reminded of so many of Mary Oliver’s beautiful poems, wherein she draws your attention to the simplest of things in our world. We just need to allow ourselves to slow down and see them. Looking forward to what delights you encounter as you embark on this next leg of your journey. Xx

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  1. Shoot, hit ‘reply’ too soon. 🥺 As I was trying to say, just meeting the day where it’s at, rather than marching to the dictates of a calendar…meetings, calls, texts, emails…is utterly enticing. I revel in your experience!❤️ xo

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    1. YES! – so often you enunciate what I’m feeling, Lori, in much the same kind of way that my late heroine Mary Oliver did / does. I don’t think the poet ever marched to the dictates of anything other than the quiet poems welling up from the fountain of her being. Thank you! 🙏

      Why I Wake Early

      Hello, sun in my face.
      Hello, you who made the morning
      and spread it over the fields
      and into the faces of the tulips
      and the nodding morning glories,
      and into the windows of, even, the
      miserable and the crotchety –
      best preacher that ever was,
      dear star, that just happens
      to be where you are in the universe
      to keep us from ever-darkness,
      to ease us with warm touching,
      to hold us in the great hands of light –
      good morning, good morning, good morning.
      Watch, now, how I start the day
      in happiness, in kindness.

      Mary Oliver

      Liked by 2 people

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