Projects, Prospects, and Conscious eating…


this galley girl has learned to love eating with awareness…

I deeply apologize for my lack of blog love lately! In the wake of the speaking tour it has been busy busy busy, another sprained ankle, a marathon of couch surfing, some shuffling through my storage unit, and sorting out my next adventure– book writing! It’s finally that time. I feel like I have a message and story to share beyond blogging and want to process and produce out of the seven years I’ve spent voyaging before setting off again! So I’m trying to figure out the Where and How associated with this kind of process….If anyone can offer up simple, inexpensive lodging for a few months to help me get started–allowing for solitude, surf, and proximity to nature–please get in touch!

In the meantime, I’ve been sorting through GoPro footage and cleaning up the website. I will be adding a few pages under the new ‘Inspiration’ tab on the home page, too…Check out the page about ‘Conscious Eating‘ that I just finished…it’s full of recipes and tips about eating with awareness. Please feel free to add to this page via ‘Comments’!

Thank you for your patience…more island stories to come as well. I still haven’t blogged about the centipede in the night, the broken windlass, weaving palm frond hats, horseback-riding in Thor and Liv Heyerdahl’s footsteps, nor hauling 500 lbs of Marquesan fruit to the fruitless atoll of Puka Puka…hang tight! xoxo

Bait for Breakfast


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Bait for breakky! What does it mean when the fish jump right on deck!?

Back in the islands, the cyclone season dwindled to a thankfully uneventful close. Swell had sprouted sea ‘roots’ after nearly 2 months in the same rolly bay. Algae swayed on Swell’s waterline, while resident bait fish circled below. Mornings would begin with the sound of thrashing water near the hull–a tuna or the likes–chasing the baitball into a frenzy such that a dozen or so would leap upon Swell’s deck! First to rise would chase down our flapping-flopping little bait buddies, thank them for their lives, gut them and toss them into the pan with a spoonful of butter. Breakfast!! YUM! Lower food chain delicacy!

But the time had come to cast our thoughts toward the next horizon. It took three days of algae scrubbing to free Swell, Miti Miti, and her anchor gear from the extraneous greenery.  The crabs and mini shrimp crawled in our ears and pinched when they got stuck under my swimsuit. Our bait friends and the teenage jacks scored an easy meal, darting amongst the newly freed algae clouds. I dove down the anchor line…down, down, down to 50 feet and hovered there in the sand…the sounds of the seabed crackled and hummed in my equalized eardrums. I was gonna miss this place.

We made rounds of goodbyes through the valley over a few days–always proportionally more difficult the longer the stay. We loaded up the mountain of fruit and parting gifts, but no treasure was greater than the friendships and love we’d been given there. I would miss the kids too much…their purity was my daily refuge.

On the morning of departure, they waved madly from the rocks on the shoreline. I paraded Swell a few times round the bay, blared the fog horn, then pointed the bow to sea behind watery eyes…

Not too far away–and yet a world apart–we pulled Swell into a narrow, silty bay. A rivermouth cut through the west end of a blacksand beach and rocky cliffs climbed skyward on both sides. Astonished, we watched waves peel down both sides of  the cliffs! The roaring NE trades were making waves…A leap from Swell and a short paddle found us looking over the ledges of a ledgy little right hander…

I’d harvested enough watercress for a few more precious salads–a bonus on top of the unexpected surf. The valley was wild and empty, except for a few wild goats and horses we spotted wandering around the rugged rocky slopes. Raiarii learned to splice 3-strand rope and fixed our chaffed stern anchor rode. Subtly, the voyage transformed into its next phase, and the newness of getting underway again felt as good as it had two months prior, to toss the anchor and get settled…A time for everything I suppose.

Simply Possible–Naomi Crum and her voyage aboard Medusa


Every year when I return, my mom gives me a stack of carefully clipped articles from various sources that she’s collected for me since my last departure. This year, at the top of the pile was an excerpt from Latitude 38 by Naomi Crum. I learned that Naomi was a young female sailor/surfer who had recently sailed a trailer-able 23’ Columbia from San Felipe in the northern Sea of Cortez to El Salvador with very basic equipment. I was charmed by her courageous spirit and simplified cruising style and thought how much I’d love to meet her…

I didn’t have much time to think about again amidst my speaking tour and busy drive up the California coast. I arrived in Santa Barbara in desperate need of a good yoga class. So I met my friend Nicole at Yoga Soup and approached the counter to check in for the next class.

“Have you been here before?” The young woman asked.

“Yes, but it’s been a long time.” I replied.

“What’s your name?”

“Liz Clark.”

“The sailor-surfer?” She asked.

“Yes.” I replied. And right then, I matched her bright eyes and neat brown dreads to the photo in Latitude 38. “Are you the girl who just sailed her boat to El Salvador?” I asked.

“Yes.” She smiled.

Both of us seemed rather astonished that we’d so serendipitously crossed paths, so we planned to chat after the class…

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Adventure must be good for the soul…Naomi’s smile says it all.

Naomi Crum exuded a silent strength. Being on the clock, she didn’t have ample time to explain the full details of her adventure, but with a quiet confidence and humble non-chalance, she explained the basics of her journey. I could hardly get my questions out fast enough, but that didn’t change the calm, collected tone of her replies. I find her story inspiring for several reasons: That she is 24 years old and female obviously strike a cord, but the fact that she did the trip on a very feasible budget, with modest gear, on a small boat impressed me all the more. Her story is important because she is proof that a voyage doesn’t have to mean endless wads of cash, sponsors, and excessive gear. I have nothing but respect for the Naomi’s approach, attitude, and success…minimal spending and maximum fun! She’s back in California for a few months to save up some money and then head back down to Medusa and continue her voyage south.

Naomi was nice enough to take the time to write up a few interview questions, as I was eager to pass her inspiring story along!


Can you tell me a bit about how you got your boat, what she’s like, and the basic equipment aboard?

“Medusa is a Columbia T-23 that I bought on a trailer from a guy in Alameda, San Francisco. Ever since I really started working and saving towards doing this trip in early 2010, my dad, my uncle and I would email each other links to boats we’d find on craigslist. We were looking in the under $5,000, under 27′ range. The decision was basically between a tiny, trailerable boat that I could take down the Sea of Cortez, or a slightly larger full keel boat which I would have to sail down the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula, but in relative luxury.

Eventually I found what became Medusa–a 36 year-old boat with no name! After many emails from both my dad and I to the poor guy trying to sell the thing, my uncle drove me up and we checked her out. Actually we ‘skyped’ my dad on video so he could check it out too. Pretty exciting! She came with a main and a 100% jib, which were both in pretty good condition, some lifejackets, and a thirty year old 6hp Johnson.

Needless to say I had a bit of shopping to do. My dad was adamant that I got a dinghy just like the one he’d had during his trip in 1981 – a plastic Sport Yak (made by Bic, of all companies.) It’s only 40 pounds, so it’s easy for me to throw around, plus it rows really well important when you don’t have a dinghy outboard! I managed to find an antique one for cheap in Santa Cruz which my auntie picked up on a business trip.

Mum and Dad finally came for their annual 6 week summer holiday, and I quit most of my three or four jobs so that we could concentrate on getting everything ship-shape. My uncle even flew out my mum’s best friend from North Carolina for an intensive long weekend of boat surgery. Pip’s a boat builder so we took full advantage of her! She provided invaluable advice as well as doing the most complicated bits like reinforcing the bulkheads and making various holes. Well you know how it is getting everything ready, for three or four months I kept a tape measure in my purse so I could measure everything I found to see if everything would fit. I was constantly covered in 5200, dust from sanding, and paint.

By the time I was ready to go in late September, Medusa was looking good and I felt more or less ready: I had a handheld GPS, a handheld VHF, a shortwave radio to tune into the weather, my dad’s paper charts from his trip in 1981 (he’d marked on them where he was and when so I could match my progress with his), a chilly bin (‘cooler’ in your language), a two burner camping stove with a large propane tank, extra sails (a storm sail and a gennaker), my dinghy Munter with two pairs of oars, 12 gallons of gas for my newly tuned-up outboard, about eight or ten gallons of storage for water, a three foot speargun, snorkeling gear, a fishing rod with lures, a small portable solar panel which hooked up to my 12V battery to charge my VHF batteries, camera batteries and, music … My uncle had given me two small speakers for my iPod which put out really good sound so that stopped me from going crazy when i was by myself! My mum had liberated old UV cloth from the sailmaker’s dumpster and sewed a tiny mainsail cover and a bimini for when I was at anchor. My parents had also donated me bits from our old boat, Gumboot–Charlies Charts, a sewing kit with a palm, and various simple tools–a hand drill, screwdrivers etc. Most important of all in my mum’s mind was the SPOT (personal GPS) that her friend had given her for me to use.”

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The Munter!

“So kind of to recap…In terms of navigating I used the handheld GPS, paper charts and dividers. I had no instruments for wind speed, wind direction, ocean depth, or anything; I had no chartplotter nor radar or HAM radio. For sailing I had no roller furling but I did have two bungee cords to attach to the tiller for “self steering” (good for 30 seconds max), for cooking I had my camping stove, to wash the dishes (and myself) I had buckets and the ocean, for entertainment the portable speakers and a deck of cards, and for feeding myself I had the speargun and fishing rod. My changing crew and I found that without a fridge, and thus without fresh food, we were pretty keen on finding fish so we’d take the speargun out as much as we could- it was also something fun to do after anchoring.

Of course, it would have been nice to find at least a windvane or some kind of semi-reliable self-steering, but whenever I had passages longer than 30 or 40 miles I always had one or two crew to help me out, so I didn’t miss it that much. The two things I DID wish I had were shade for when I was under sail and a portable fan.”

You sailed from San Felipe in the Sea of Cortez to El Salvador, right? A couple highlights? Any not so fun moments?

“I did sail from San Felipe to El Salvador… I think the highlight of the trip was probably the Sea of Cortez, it is really such a magical and isolated place, all of the anchorages were so protected and so pristinely beautiful and the diving was fantastic… I spent two months sailing south along the west coast of the Sea and could have spent twice that! I also loved waking up every morning stoked about whatever might happen that day!

I had two or three experiences when I was really feeling like not being on the boat, at all. One time was when I was by myself in Puerto Escondido, and the swell rose a lot, very quickly. Suddenly the anchorage became very unsafe- the huge swell was creating insanely strong eddies and boils sucking their way across the bay. Within about a minute I was swinging around, bashing up against a panga, with my anchor rode wrapped around the panga’s mooring line. At one point my outboard was being scraped up and down the hull of the little fishing boat which was slightly terrifying. Being by myself made this situation super stressful, as I had to do three or four things at once- start the engine, keep the boats from destroying each other, and figure out where the anchor rode was going. Eventually I ditched the anchor and motored out to a slightly safer spot, re-anchoring temporarily with my stern anchor while some local fishermen helped me recover my bow anchor.

I anchored out away from the currents with both anchors deployed but in a fairly unprotected spot, lay in bed checking the anchor every ten minutes till about 4am when I gave up. I was so glad to pull up the anchors and sail out of there to Puerto Angel, where I was sure I could get a good rest. Unfortunately, Puerto Angel was almost worse than Escondido! The swell was rolling straight into the tiny, normally

well-protected anchorage and reverberating off the steep shores. Using a stern anchor to try and stay pointed into the swell didn’t work as the swells were coming at me from all angles and by now I was feeling pretty worn down by the sea conditions. I couldn’t cook or hardly move around the boat, so  doing pretty much anything was out of the question. I wedged myself in on the floor using sails, blankets and pillows and tried to cease to exist for a while. The huge swells lasted three or four days and I couldn’t even take advantage of them for a surf as I was too afraid to leave the boat! Times like that I really thought hard about a warm safe bed in a nice, sturdy house on solid land…But they were few and far between and that experience made me super grateful for the calm and protected anchorages I found down the coast!”

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Naomi and Mike flying the genaker. Naomi picked up crew now and then to join her along her journey south.

What would you say was the most profound thing you learned/saw/felt that you weren’t expecting?

“I think something that I wasn’t expecting… When I was still in the making money and planning stages of the trip, my uncle kept trying to convince me that if I really wanted a surf trip, it would be much easier to buy a Toyota pick up and drive down the coast – surfing from a sailboat can be kind of difficult, he said. Even though the guy knows what he’s talking about, I was pretty sure that I would be able to pull it off.

Yeah, it’s not that easy, I found out. The problem is you have to get to a protected anchorage by nightfall, or spend the night out on the ocean. Without a chartplotter or radar or anything, I didn’t want to enter unknown anchorages in the dark. There are a couple of places where it is relatively easy to get to surf spots from the boat, but often times the surf spots are too far away from an anchorage to be able to do more than a one or two hour drive-by surf. There were times on my trip when I was having multiple sessions a day for weeks on end, but there were also times when we had to sail past peeling barrels to get to the next anchorage before dark.”

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Naomi discovered that sailing to surf isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. I know the feeling!

What would you say to other people thinking about doing a similar trip?

“As to advice for someone interested in doing a similar trip, what can I say. I thought it was pretty much the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, however, it’s not for everyone. It was pretty much like nine months of very salty, very basic freedom camping. Plus, living on a boat comes with its own specific quirks. You can’t get anywhere very fast. You’re constantly rocking around. Everything is salty, all the time. If something goes wrong, you have to deal with it yourself (i.e., if your motor breaks in the middle of the ocean, it’s up to you to sail to safety. Similarly, if your rudder snaps off in the middle of the ocean, good luck.) So for some people this is not their idea of a fantastic time. But for someone who is keen enough, I would definitely recommend going as simple and as small as possible—less money, less maintenance, more fun!! Other cruisers may think you are crazy but DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM.”


THANK YOU NAOMI! For having the courage to go out and see for yourself! Wishing you the best on your adventures ahead…

Fight to Flight: Ryan Levinson


We choose our perspective.

When Ryan Levinson contacted me a while back, I was taken aback by his situation. A diversely proficient athlete of his caliber, living with with MD for the last 16 years–a diseasethat eats away muscle tissue slowing over time–has been a series of hard slaps in the face, as his muscle mass decreases and he loses the ability to do the physical things that he loves. As an indulgent athlete myself, his situation struck a heart chord. In 2008, a woman named Melanie, on a bus ride in Kiribati to find provisions, gave me a piece of ancient wisdom that instantly changed the way I perceive adversity. She said, “Difficult people and situations should be considered our most precious jewels. They give us a chance to practice our virtues, and become a better person. Each of us are born into uniquely challenging circumstances, but if we choose to use them positively, they can become our vehicle to transformation.”

My life has never been the same since. I have since passed this powerful wisdom along, where it seemed appropriate. Ryan’s situation was one of them, a few years back. He has since gone from ‘fight’ to ‘flight’… and I wanted to share his recent blog entry from http://ryanlevinson.com/.

There is nothing unique about the pain I feel.  Given the nature of my disease it’s not even particularly difficult to understand- a mix of shattered ego and lost dreams swirling amongst glorified fantasies of what was and dark anticipation what’s to come.  I’ve been here before, many times, it almost feels “normal” now, like my memories of carefree happiness are lost in the mist of epic struggle. I’m taking blows, yelling, fighting, clawing, growling, fire in my eyes, an injured warrior surging forward amongst a barrage of fire and hurt. I’ve never shared these thoughts before because I was too afraid of letting down people that look to me for inspiration and hope, that sponsors would leave, that it would hurt my “brand”, that I would loose opportunity, connection, and purpose.  I was afraid of loss because loss is constant in my life. Not just loss of muscle but the resulting loss of ability, connection with friends, peers, activities, identity, and ego. For most of my life I’ve been defined largely through my physical actions- as a surfer, athlete, first responder, lover, maybe a bit extreme at times but capable and strong.  Now I sometimes struggle to hold up a toothbrush.

Don't ask where that fish landed...

Don’t ask where that fish landed…

Over the last few weeks my arms were hit especially hard.  My wetsuit sleeves now hang loose around my biceps.  I started noticing white stains on my t-shirts and realized they were from deodorant because I’m too weak to wing my arms out when I pull the shirts over my head.  It’s getting difficult to hold my left arm over shoulder high (I lost that ability in my right arm long ago).  I don’t know what’s next.  The only certainty is that the loss will continue.  But so will I…I once wrote that I’m screaming within, like a captured animal slamming itself against the walls of its cage.  I did not yet understand that the pain I feel is a thread of common experience that connects every person in the world, past, present, and future.  Pain is universal, and that understanding is the foundation of compassion. Now I realize that my loneliness, self-pity, feelings of injustice, and resulting pain comes from contrasting what I think I am with what I think I should be.  It’s my ego begging for attention, trying to convince me that I’m somehow special, uniquely deserving, that things I cannot have matter above all else, and that without them I am somehow a lesser man, a failure. But then there are fleeting moments when I feel almost translucent, like I’m stepping back and experiencing each moment as they unfold, letting my ego chatter away in the distance.  During these times I feel like an integral part of something much larger, an infinite timeless dance, an incredible universe and everything in it.  The best way I can explain the feeling is pure love. So I’m sitting here, sweating in the summer heat, eyes watering with tears of gratitude, feeling swept away, relishing the adventure.  Remembering that this largely began with an email from someone I had never met. A woman named Liz Clark. There is no easy way to explain Liz.  She graduated college, purchased an old but strong 40’ sailboat, fixed it up, and spent the last six years exploring remote areas in the Americas and South Pacific, often alone, while sharing her experiences and insights in her incredible blog.

Captain Liz Clark

Captain Liz Clark

Liz’s writings were the main inspiration behind my first post for Outside Online when I wrote, “surfing is not about your ability to maneuver a board, but rather it is about how completely you can experience a moment.”  I sent Liz an email with a link to that article, thanking her for the inspiration.  Her reply stunned me.  The level of understanding and compassion in her message changed my life.  From reading one short article Liz knew me better than I knew myself.  Or rather, she knew my suffering.  In her email Liz wrote about impermanence, ego, challenge, perspective, and choice.  She suggested books to read and things to practice.  Her light was blinding. Liz closed the email with a quote from Albert Einstein: “A human being is part of a whole called by us ‘the universe,’ a part limited in time and space.  He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest- a kind of optical delusion of consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening the circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Liz’s message was the catalyst that crystalized many thoughts swirling through my mind.  I now realize I built my own cage and I hold the key!  I’m back on a path that was interrupted when I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy 16 years ago. I now have an opportunity to sail offshore, to explore the last true wilderness, a place where I will succeed or fail on my own merits, where there are no preconceived notions of what I can or cannot do. Naoma, a beautiful 38′ Ericson Sloop is resting in her slip at Harbor Island West marina waiting for me to come aboard and set her free.  I’ve spent the past four months learning her systems and preparing her for offshore use.

S/Y Naoma

S/Y Naoma

At sea I am a part of the surging waves or mirror glass water, the strong wind or stifling stillness, the blazing sun or inky darkness, the incomprehensible depth of the water and soaring height of the sky, the infinite horizon, the salty air, and the endless motion.  At sea I am a warrior, a monk, a student, and a saint, simultaneously reminded of my connection to the universe and of my impermanence as a human.Being offshore humbles me.  If I fall overboard, a simple slip on the endlessly moving deck, I will likely die slowly, alone, cold, floating in the water as I watch my boat sail away.  I wonder what would go through my mind?  I am now too weak to do a pullup or even hold up my arms, what will I do if I need to climb the mast or reach overhead to make a repair?  As my legs and core continue to loose strength will I be able to balance against the constant rocking and rolling?  Will I be able to pull the lines to control the sails?  What will I do when I get injured?  What will happen as I fatigue?  At sea loneliness is the ambient condition.  But it’s a good kind of lonely, a healthy kind of fear. Solo sailing is hard. I will often be tired, cold, and hungry with no rest in sight.  But I relish the times when it simply feels good, sensuous, exhilarating, rewarding, or even just relaxing and fun.  It’s a potent reminder that pain and pleasure are often inversely proportional, that one can not exist without the other.  The challenges I face give purpose to pain, opportunities to grow. In a few weeks I will be sailing Naoma to Catalina Island alone, backpacking across the island, then sailing back.  The first in a series of adventures I’m embracing with an open mind and eager heart. Muscular Dystrophy is robbing me of physical strength but I’m adjusting, learning, expanding, exploring, and sharing openly, maybe too openly, but here I am, uncensored, naked, in pain and triumph, surface and deep. Catalina Island is just the start.  I’m casting off, and I’m welcoming you along for the ride.

One second later I was soaking wet laughing like a loon!

One second later I was soaking wet laughing like a loon!

What’s with the slideshows?

Great article/interview in the Santa Barbara Independent by my friend, Ethan Stewart, explaining a bit more in depth about my slideshow…:)

Ocean Adventures — The Santa Barbara Independent

By Ethan Stewart

Surfer, Sailor Liz Clark Talks About Her Sea Travels

It has been almost seven years since Liz Clark took the helm of her 40-foot sailboat, Swell, and left the cozy confines of Santa Barbara Harbor for an adventure of epic and unknown proportions. At the time, the plan was to travel via wind power to sublime surfing setups the world over. And while that has certainly happened in the thousands of nautical miles she has logged (and continues to log) since the October day in 2005 that she set sail, something else markedly more powerful has transpired.

It seems the timeless and epiphany-producing powers of nature and solitude have worked on the young captain just as they have on untold numbers of explorers, thinkers, and activists before her. “I see humanity in an entirely different way now,” said Clark. “I see connections between things that maybe I didn’t see before, between people and the planet. There is this really human thing in all of us, and it connects us with the planet in a very special and important way. My environmentalism has evolved.”

This week, Clark, who is back in the States for a bit of family time as Swell waits patiently for her return in a harbor in French Polynesia, will be in Santa Barbara to host a slide show and talk at the S.B. Maritime Museum, a perfectly appropriate venue for the captain — and it is directly downstairs from the place she used to work as a bartender before she set sail.

An accidental sort of public speaker, Clark has dubbed her presentation Voyage to the Source and describes it as an “honest and personal fusion of everything I have been thinking about throughout my entire voyage.” More to the point, she said, it is a chance for her to share — and show — the lessons she has learned about herself and the world around her during her some 18,000 miles of sailing. In short, as is the case with most spiritual awakenings, hers is a story of how a largely self-gratifying surf trip (albeit a rather ambitious and impressive one) has evolved to become a journey with meaning and value far bigger than the captain herself. “Spend six years on a boat alone, and you are going to learn a lot,” laughed Clark.

Voyage to the Source: 2600 Miles in the South Pacific Examining Life Close to Nature
  • Where: S.B. Maritime Museum, 113 Harbor Wy., #190, Santa Barbara
  • Cost: $5
  • Age limit: Not available

Full event details

Taking the slow road (or ocean as the case may be) through far-flung places that are often unnamed specks on most world maps, the UCSB grad has had nearly daily doses of fundamental truths that the modern world often seems dead set on having us forget. She rattles off things like “seeing opportunity in adversity,” learning to not take food for granted, recognizing the deadly dangers of our collective plastics addiction, and harnessing the all-illuminating power of slowing down, sitting still, and listening to nature as just a few of the lessons she has learned. And, as important as these individual revelations may be, it is the type of understanding that they collectively open the door to that has Clark most jazzed. “It has given me a sense of peace about who I am and where I fit into this world as a human, as a living organism, and as a speck of dust in the universe. It changes your perspective on what is truly important,” mused the captain. “I’ve realized that the real first step in becoming an activist [for the environment] is being able to get outside yourself and really think on a larger scale for the planet …. I am so grateful [for being able to learn these lessons that] sharing some of them is the least I can do. If I can help even one person relate to their situation a little differently or ease their pain or make more conscious decisions then, for me, it’s worth it.”

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Captain Liz Clark will be presenting Voyage to the Source: 2,600 Miles in the South Pacific Examining Life Close to Nature Friday, July 20, 7 p.m., at the S.B. Maritime Museum (113 Harbor Wy.). Tickets are $5. To RSVP, call (805) 962-8404 x115, and log on at sbmm.org for more info.

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, July 20th!

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July 20: Voyage to the Source by Liz Clark

2600 Miles in the South Pacific Examining Life Close to Nature

Where: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, Munger Theater, 113 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara, California
What: A Slideshow Presentation by Liz Clark (surfer, writer, photographer, adventurer, environmental activist and Patagonia ambassador.)
When: Friday, July 20, 2012, 7 pm
Why: Liz shares stories and insights from her recent, yearlong sailing trip around the eastern South Pacific.
Cost: $5 for everyone
To RSVP: (805) 962-8404, x115
For more information visit: www.sbmm.org

The Right to fulfill our ‘Perfect Wildness’.

Goat family doing perfectly goaty stuff…

The spot from which I studied the goats…and connected myself to everything else.

From my yoga mat under the copra roof, I watched the goat family come down the hillside to graze day after day. The youngest never strayed far from mom, bleating ‘bloody murder’ if she wandered off. When they’d would catch up to her, they’d shake their tails and wiggle with vigor under her belly, overcome with relief. The ‘teenagers’ would butt heads or go bounding out on appallingly precarious cliff edges without the slightest inhibition. The leader of the goat tribe, ‘Papi Chevre’ as I called him, (‘Grandpa Goat’ in French) cruised casually with an air of certain nobility, wearing two white stripes through his goatee and mane, contrasting against the black of his body. Mothers eyed their youngsters. Adult males nearly climbed trees and flattened brush in their relentless quest for foliage. A few chickens followed the herd, likely pecking at bugs and worms left exposed by the goats’ uprooting of plants and stamping of hooves.

Despite that they are NOT an endemic species to these islands and VERY destructive to native vegetation, watching these wild animals in action reminded me of each organism’s distinct genetic purpose. They were doing what goats do, without anyone telling them to—living wild and free in the hills. A goat is a goat, through and through, as much as a bee is a bee and we humans are human–each species on Earth so perfectly tailored to its distinct role. In that very moment, all over the world, millions upon millions of life forms were performing their innate duties, unknowingly but ingeniously expressing their ‘perfect wildness’. Each of them  deserve basic respect, at least a habitat–a place to just be whatever it was–an ant or a bobcat or a needlefish, expressing it’s genetic purpose…so this idea of biological egalitarianism hovered in my thoughts…We didn’t always see ourselves so above and separate from other life?

Polynesian motifs were full of the animals with which they shared the local environment. Here, Raiarii’s drawing of a turtle (honu) shows animal and human symbols interwoven in the traditional style of Polynesian art.

I thought about the Polynesian animal ‘motifs’—the manta, dolphin, shark, whale, gecko, centipede, turtle, etc. These animals were once looked upon as brothers and sisters, as fellow spirits on a similar journey. Native peoples throughout history drew inspiration from the animals with which they shared their local environment. We don’t give much thought to it anymore, but I think knowing and being near them and respecting them feels right and so good for the soul! Becoming close to our ecologically diverse ‘neighbors’–be them skunks or lizards or earthworms–humbles us, puts our problems into the perspective of the biosphere rather than our own lonely universe, and helps remind us that we aren’t the only ones trying to ‘get things done’ here on Earth each day.

Thank you for coming!

Such an overwhelming turnout last night. Thank you all so much for coming down and showing your support!! I sincerely apologize to those of you who couldn’t get in the door and thank you for making the effort to be there.

I’m sorry to report that no one recorded it, but it’s already been arranged for the next one in Ventura and I promise to get it up online.

Thanks for your patience. I’ll be back to blogs asap!

Thanks for the great questions at the end, too. We were around 250! In the store and overflowing into the street!