Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shantaram - 24, February 2009-Anchored at Henry Lawrence, Andamans, India

I woke at 6am, took my yoga mat out on deck and succeeded at only one sun salutation on the rocking boat before submitting to meditation – which lasted only minutes before my mind rattled about whether or not to get off this boat. I didn’t expect this trip to be easy so I’m not surprised I’m struggling. I just couldn’t conceive of how it would be difficult. I have a great a cushy indulgent Plan B that tempts me constantly. I suppose, though, that I understood the highs of sailing across the Indian Ocean would be at trade off with the lows, so if I went a more moderate route, I’d miss out on what set me sailing in the first place. What are the good things? The total disconnect from society, the absence of the internet and television, the beautiful locales, the snorkeling, sleeping in a rocking boat is the best I’ve ever slept, John insists on fresh ginger tea daily, John’s patience and kindness, Nat’s delicious Thai meals, the general easy going nature of everyone onboard, the new friendships, the drifting feeling of moving across the globe slowly, the undemanding yet persistent exposure to sailing and navigation, the repetition, reading without diversion, the excitement of social changes, the long slow days of thinking, and the total immersion into something out of my control. Oh, but wait, that last part about control is the reason I’m going completely fucking mad.

A bit later:

We’ve just had lunch and Alyssa and I are relaxing in the shade under the tarp between the main and head sails. Lunch was Mongrel Mix (a pot of delicious leftovers from the last few days) and fried bananas. Alyssa and I snorkeled for the longest time. I think I’m going to stay on this damn boat with her because I like her. Also, she’s finished Shantaram so I started reading it today and found this on page 43:

“And I was a writer…I’d just begun to establish myself…when my marriage collapsed, I lost custody of my daughter and I lost my life in drugs, crime, imprisonment, and escape. But even as a fugitive, writing was still a daily custom and part of my instinctual routine. Even there, in Leopold’s, my pockets were full of notes, scribbled onto napkins, receipts, and scraps of paper. I never stopped writing. It was what I did, no matter where I was or how my circumstances changed. One of the reasons I remember those early Bombay months so well is that, whenever I was alone, I wrote about those new friends and the conversations we shared. And writing was one of the things that saved me: the discipline and abstraction of putting my life into words, every day, helped me to cope with shame and its first cousin, despair.”

Okay, well, I can’t say the difficult thing about this sail trip is shame, or even its first cousin despair. But maybe it’s irritation, and its first cousin frustration. In any case, I happen to be writing a ridiculous amount on a regular basis, so maybe the discipline and abstraction of putting my life into words, every day, will help me to cope.

But for now, back to paradise.

posted by ali's U.S. ambassador