I remember from my childhood the song from a musical Paint your wagon where Lee Marvin sings the old classic, ‘I was born under a wandering star’. One particular line stands out in my memory and still rings true all these years later: Snow can burn your eyes but only people make you cry.
I was indeed born under a wandering star like my father before me and many sailing great uncles going back generations into the days of tall ships, where they sailed as the famous ‘Wild Geese’, the name given to the old wandering Irish sailors of yore. Their genes are within me and if I close my eyes in contemplation, the sounds and fragrance of the those old days haunts my deepest inner senses.
Despite the nomadic nature of my existence, the value of friends has never been more important and I take those relationships very seriously. They are an important lifeline, perhaps even more so for a transitory being than one established within a supportive community with blood family.
The difference between aloneness and loneliness is significant and often confused in a world where many folk cannot bear the silence necessary to invoke healing and spiritual growth. The eternal television and radio noise fills those sustaining moments with an essence of avoidance, or unwillingness to meet the higher self or even each other. The eternal silence is where one meets one’s true self and begins the journey to enlightenment and true connection with God, or cosmic consciousness. A wandering sailor has to master the ability to be alone in the former sense, in complete harmony with the elemental realm; not just for spiritual health, but also to survive the rigours of seafaring with all its perils.
The importance of human contact is crucial to balance the ethereal nature of wandering alone in an elemental world, enabling a harmonious, balanced existence. I haven’t always been successful in the past, and found the adaption to seafaring life difficult in the early days, while weaning myself away from the surreal, apparent normality of modern existence.
The love of friends provides a safe anchorage for a solitary sailor and the smile and kindness of a human heart in a far off distant land is a priceless gift. Angelic intervention occurs in so many ways, for sure. The smile is a reminder of our common heritage as members of the human family – transcending the duality of the tribal, blood family with its exclusivity. The world is full of lonely, disconnected folk, many of whom need only the recognition that they are loved. Society at times seems to be so focussed on ambition that it forgets the sacred heart… the heart that loves all.
My gratitude for all those wonderful folk I have met over the years throughout the world is huge. It is possible to live life without the need to fill every moment with stimulation, balancing it with those special gifts of friendship that transcend faith, language and culture.
Just smile at a stranger today and you will never know just how much value it has – but rest assured, the day may come when its reciprocation could save your life.