Thursday June 12th – At Sea – A day of reflection
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ~ Mary Oliver “The Summer Day”
I’m about three-fourths of the way through reading “Wild” when I came across this quote. Somehow it made me smile and reflect upon the question, perhaps a little more than normal. We are living life fully and a bit on the wild side these days, with unplanned adventures.
We are at sea in the middle of nowhere. North of the Arctic Circle and headed for an island I know nothing about other than it is cold, windswept and the jumping off point for arctic expeditions and a polar research station.
My life is nothing like that. Instead of cold and bleak, I feel exhilarated and fulfilled. Tired, yes, but full and satisfied.
In many ways I have lived a charmed life. Some might disagree with that assessment. Those that know the true ins and outs of my life story. My family and closest friends have stood by me as I dealt with failed marriages, a couple of health crisis, the death of loved ones and walked through the despair and helplessness of friends and family members battling depression, incurable disease, mental illness and addiction.
But walking through those fires has made me stronger, more resilient, braver, and empathetic towards mankind. I have learned that I can not change or control others (though I sure have tried!). I have learned to enjoy life, ask the Universe for what I want and be grateful for each day.
I have learned that I am a work in progress. My self-confidence can come across as arrogance. Humility can be fleeting or outright missing. I can be straightforward and shockingly honest at times, revealing probably more than I should.
But at the end of the day, I like myself. (See humility is out the window!)
I attended another photography workshop today hosted by Goren, one of the on-board photographers. This was number two of three presentations he was doing. Most of the information was pretty basic and I sat with smug realization that I have moved past the beginners stage. That said, I still have much to learn. I would love to take a class on Photoshop and learn how to remove those pesky lines, poles, a random person or other distraction out of a picture.
And sometimes it is that random person that changes the picture from ho-hum to interesting.
Tim is off to the casino to play some blackjack. He qualified to play in a tournament this evening with a $500 prize for the winner. I chuckle thinking that money would be a nice way to pay for his espresso coffee habit and my Internet addiction.
I’ve already asked the Universe today to see a whale, dolphins and a polar bear on this trip. Might as well ask that Tim wins the tournament as well…
There is not a speck of land in sight. We are crossing open waters at full speed 18.3 knots which is equivalent to around 20 miles per hour. The captain said we did not have any current information about the sea conditions where we are headed as we are the first ship this year to enter these waters and there are no other ships in the area. We may or may not encounter polar bears and icebergs ahead.
It’s all rather exciting and just a touch nerve inducing. I am trying to refrain from singing the theme song from “Titanic”.
Our destination is Spitsbergen, the most important of the Svalbard group of islands. Located only 750 miles from the North Pole, at 80 degrees latitude, it is the northern most place on the globe where people live year-round.
Update 1: Tim did not win the $500 blackjack tournament, but he did win a Princess t-shirt – something he can use.
Update 2: I finished reading the book “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. I’m glad I read it, even if it wrenched my heart a few times, especially when she wrote about her relationship with her mother.
Update 3: It is now just after midnight, but if you look out the window, it could just as easily be high noon. The sun is shining brightly. What a strange and wonderful sight to see: the land of the midnight sun! It will stay broad daylight 24 hours a day up here for another month. Pretty amazing.
Gratitude Moment: Today I am grateful for my husband braving the cold to go out on deck to get me a picture at midnight just so I could record and show everyone how sunny it is.