This quote crossed my path this morning.
We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting or us.
These wise words come from Joseph Campbell, someone who does not readily come to my mind. He was a professor of comparative literature at Sarah Lawrence in the mid-20th century.
We have been more comfortable than we expected over the past week, with complete lock down in Falmouth Harbour, Antigua. The restrictions are harsh, but I do not find them cruelly implemented, as I might find in Grenada or Trinidad right now. There is an English gentility in the enforcement of isolation here. Bob and I swim around the boat twice a day, in lieu to trying to make any distance walking, with only 44 steps to circumnavigate Pandora’s deck. I am not a fan of being submerged in water, but the weather has been mild enough that my fears are less than in normal conditions. With a little luck, perhaps I will have grown so accustomed to swimming in the ocean that when the winds pick up again, in a few more days, perhaps I will be less fearful of swimming. One can hope.
In some ways, it has been a relief to put life on hold for the past week. Before that, I spent too much time wondering when we’d need to get up to the US Virgin Islands, and then which route would we choose, or be forced to take, to head home. No one sails in the north Atlantic until at least early May, so going all the way New England needs to wait a bit. Meanwhile, should we head out to the USVI to wait until we make our way slowly north through the Bahamas?
I’ve spent a good deal of this week working on a few projects I brought onboard. It has been a great way to stop thinking and planning. Here is my tapestry. I put is aside for about 6 weeks because I am so unhappy with it. If I were at home, I would have abandoned it already. However, here I have no other options if I want to weave. I’ve decided that the endeavor of weaving will still move my skills forward. There is always something to learn. I’ve learned the hard lesson that I will most likely never have all the necessary yarns I need onboard! At least I am enjoying the start of the octopus more than the struggle with the frustrating pillars.
Some of the plans we considered are now closed to us. The Bahamas is definitely not an option now. The government there is closing the borders indefinitely. Everyone not willing to stay put for an indeterminate amount of time needs to leave now. A quote from the Prime Minister’s announcement was “Do not wait, and do not assume this message doesn’t apply to you. As we have seen, we cannot predict if, when or how severely movement within and out of the Bahamas may become restricted by air or by sea. If you choose to stay, please be prepared to remain in The Bahamas for an indefinite period of time.” Well, we are not even there, so that’s not a choice for us anyway. The island nation is closed to new arrivals.
NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is predicting higher than normal activity this hurricane season, with at least four major hurricanes, possibly more. Just a reality check: last year they predicted fewer storms. This is not the year to take a chance being down here during the summer/fall. Although I am highly tempted to haul Pandora here in Antigua, I know that’s just me wanting to run away. We cannot take our time island hopping through The Bahamas to get home. Another of our plans, sailing non-stop through the Old Bahamas Channel, now moves from Plan B to Plan A. This route takes us through the shipping lanes on the north coast of Cuba, then up the west side of The Bahamas (I never it was The), for a total of about 1300 non-stop miles for this utter neophyte sailor. After 45 years of sailing, I have never done more than 3 overnights in a row, and I swore I’d never do THAT again. Never say never.
We don’t know if or when we can leave for the Virgin Islands. At the moment these islands are overwhelmed by cruisers seeking shelter and waiting for a weather window to get home. That is not likely before early May, although we could make landfall somewhere in the south or mid-Atlantic coast. In the meantime, the USVI are over stressed with so many non-locals. We all expect that any day now, the cruisers may end up evicted, even US citizens, and a closure for any new arrivals. We are no longer counting on starting our long passage from the there. At the moment US citizens and those with US visas can shelter there, but it is becoming a burden for the island nation. Cases of Covid 19 have advanced 10-fold in only a few days. They are not equipped with medical services to deal with this.
Still, the news from home is worse. The situation in the US is just mind boggling. Every morning I say I won’t read the newspapers quite yet, and then I sit down and immediately open them. The situation in New York is heartbreaking, and I believe it will be some time before it peaks. I read somewhere that Connecticut has some serious times coming. Rhode Island has closed its state borders and is stopping all out of state cars for questioning. My brother in law who drives trucks is seeing cars stopped for questioning on Route 95 in the Southeast. You already know this, of course. I know that we are safer here at the moment than at home.
When I was an adolescent in the late 60s/early 70s, many of my friends played a morbid game of choice that mostly went like this: would you rather burn to death or drown? I feel a bit like we are playing that game now. Would I rather go home to many more exposures to Covid 19 or stay in the Caribbean and ride out a number of hurricanes on Pandora. Is it possible to choose ‘none of the above?’
Here is the one and only project I have finished all winter. Maybe some of you will remember that Melody (Chris’ life partner who has become a dear friend to me) gave me this yarn for Christmas. It is one of the ‘cake’ yarns that has long color transitions, and no color is repeated in the length of the yarn. As you can see this yarn shades from deep coral through pale corals, then light grays into black.
So, here’s to struggling to make peace with making no plans, which is not something either Bob or I is good at doing. This is a good lesson in learning that skill. There are so many things I’m thankful for each day, and I need to stay focused on them. The highlight this week came late at night on Thursday. A men’s chorus gathered at the dock in Falmouth and sang a number of wonderful songs that may have been English hymns. To hear their voices streaming out to us in the ethereal night on the light breeze was such a balm to our worries these days.
Today a friend in New Jersey has sent me a number of youtube videos of today’s service at her church. Each segment takes place in someone’s home, the minister, the organist, the readers. Sometime between last night and early morning today, the minister of this church drove to every house in the congregation and left palm fronds at each family’s door. What a gift! There is another life waiting for each of us. It will bring some challenges we might not want to face, but there is little we can do about that. Be safe. I’m thinking about you.