Wednesday, March 25, 2015

LEAVE THEM ALONE!



by Ray Jason           

 It was a lovely sight in a glorious setting.  In one direction the primal jungle spilled down the hillsides to the sea.  And in the opposite direction it swept up the mountainsides until it was replaced by evergreen forest as it neared the slumbering volcano.  In the foreground a small armada of cayucos was departing the tiny village as the Indio children paddled home from school.  Their joyous chatter and laughter as they propelled themselves effortlessly across the water was echoed in the sky by the wild parrots that never seem to fly without gossiping enthusiastically. 
This tableau perfectly symbolized the upside-down sense of superiority that the First World lords over the Developing World.  At this exact moment in thousands of towns in El Norte, the soccer moms were waiting in long lines for school to let out.  They were en-bubbled in their massive, air-conditioned SUVs about to safely transport their children home.  They need these steel security pods because their “advanced Civilization” has become so perverse that human predators make it dangerous for children to walk or bike to school, like I used to do.     

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

CATASTROPHIC PROGRESS



by Ray Jason           

 The deep serenity down here in the Archipelago of Bliss soothes and inspires me.   Sometimes AVENTURA and I find a tiny lagoon that is so tranquil that the silence almost seems to speak.  In many spots the Jungle runs all the way down to the Sea.  Such symbolism comforts me, because they are both such essential incubators of Life.    
            Last week I found a bay so sublime that the voice of Nature was louder than the clamor of Humanity.  On a typical day I would see 25 dug-out cayucos being quietly rowed by extremely fit Indios.  Only rarely was the stillness disturbed by a boat with an engine.  Most of the human sounds came from happy children - laughing and playing in the shallow water.
            A little cabin on the shore caught my eye.  It seemed like a perfect hideaway for a writer, and I imagined Thoreau sitting on its tiny porch in the twilight savoring a day well-spent on reflecting and writing.  I believe that if he lived today he would choose a sailing boat as his platform for observing and commenting on Life.  A cabin on Walden Pond would be impossibly expensive; and he would chafe at the preposterous restrictions that the bureaucrats would demand. 
I have long felt that he too would choose the Sea Gypsy Philosopher life.  This intuition was recently reinforced for me when I learned that the final sentence that he uttered on his deathbed was, “Now comes good sailing!”  These thoughts led to a deeper meditation on how astonishingly different the world is now - in just the 153 years since his death.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A WARNING LABEL FOR HISTORY BOOKS


by Ray Jason

“Warning: The Historian General has determined that most of the information in this book is FALSE.  This is not accidental.  This is deliberate.”

*******
 
The societal operating system that almost all history textbooks praise and defend - which we call Civilization - should actually be mocked and replaced. About 10,000 years ago it destroyed the previous template for human organization which was Tribal Living. 
That prior system existed for over a million years as Homo Habilis became Homo Erectus and then Homo Sapiens.  During that immense span of time, most people lived sustainably and peaceably.  Sometimes there were skirmishes involving territorial boundaries, but there was no expansionist warfare.  There were no Tribal Imperialists seeking to rule the world.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A MEDITATION ON 'AMERICAN SNIPER'



by Ray Jason

One of my best friends wanted to see the movie ‘American Sniper’ and he asked me to join him.  I would not have done so on my own, but I realized that it could be quite unsettling for him - and he might need my help.  We are both Vietnam Veterans, but he was an infantryman and I was on an ammunition ship.  His experience was so gruesome, that he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The fact that he can function as a normal person amazes me.  If I had those images jangling around in my memory vault, I would probably be living under a bridge somewhere. 
            Twice during the film, the emotional intensity was so overpowering that he had to leave the theatre and catch his breath out in the lobby.  Although we had planned a hearty meal for afterwards, his system was so disabled, that he could only handle a bowl of soup and a beer.  But he made it home safely and when I checked on him this morning he was okay.
             

Friday, January 9, 2015

AN ODE TO MY LITTLE SHIP


by Ray Jason 
             
AVENTURA happily at Sea
A cold front has lost its bearings and meandered all the way down to the Banana Latitudes.  The evening chill is quite refreshing.  In a celebratory gesture, I light AVENTURA’S kerosene lamps.   Normally, they heat up the boat too much when I am south of the Tropic of Discontent.  But tonight … they are perfectissimo!
            The warm, amber light is so different from the sterile, blue, fluorescent lamps that I use most of the time.  It not only illuminates, but it also pleases the senses with its gentle flicker and its subtle smokiness.  It enriches the already magical beauty of my little ship’s small, tidy cabin.
            The dark, gorgeous mahogany wood shimmers.  The polished brass barometer gleams.  The white, glossy bulkheads sparkle.  The stained-glass red rose that decorates the liquor cabinet, takes on a richer hue.  The stainless steel trim on the miniature fireplace shines. 
            

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

MY CHRISTMAS WISHES FOR CUBA



by Ray Jason

AVENTURA was lunging over the crests of fourteen-foot waves and then plunging down their backs with rollicking gusto.   My enthusiasm was considerably more tempered.  In other words, I was semi-terrified.  The passage from Grand Cayman to Key West had already been a test of my solo sailing skills, and I had hoped that on the last night before arrival, the conditions would be pleasant.  But instead they were punishing. 
The wind was over 30 knots and because it was in the opposite direction of the powerful Gulf Stream, the waves were not just large but they were also steep and confused.  This was a perfect dark frightening night for anyone who wanted to experience the power and fury of Mother Ocean.
I had been trying to reach the Coast Guard by radio to check and see if all of the lighthouses along the reefs were functioning properly, but I was getting no response.  Then suddenly another sailboat hailed me and asked for my position.  We were about 5 miles apart and he too was headed for Key West.  We shared some fear-laced humor about the abysmal sea conditions and then I asked him where he was coming from.  There was a profound pause … and then he said he was returning from the “South Tortugas.”  At first this befuddled me because I had never heard of these islands, and then it suddenly hit me and I congratulated him on his clandestine visit to “The Forbidden Isle - CUBA.”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

THE USELESS JOY OF JUGGLING



Ray 1987

by Ray Jason

 Tucked away in the backwaters of these essays, there are a few brief references to a prior chapter in my life when I was a … JUGGLER.  And as might be expected, due to my fondness for the Unconventional Path, I did not juggle in ordinary venues like circuses or Las Vegas revues.  No, I was a street performer – and proud of it.  Indeed, I am STILL proud of it - because I was the very first of the San Francisco street jugglers.    
            This was back in the early 1970s, when street performing was beginning its modern American renaissance.  Those were glorious years when the sidewalks were alive with mimes and tap dancers and magicians and roller-skating accordionists.  Because we were pioneers, we were all joyously making it up as we went along.  As a continuation of the Sixties’ mentality of “let’s really embrace life,” our ragtag band of buskers was predominantly motivated by co-operation rather than competition.  We preferred being folk heroes to being stars.  As an unrepentant romantic, this was an exquisite community for me.  I could live frugally but comfortably, while making my favorite city a slightly better and happier place.  And my modest efforts were respected and cherished by my neighbors.  The Mayor of San Francisco even declared a day in my honor.
            That wistful-golden era lasted about two decades and then it began to tarnish.  Being a beloved San Francisco street entertainer was no longer enough for the newer performers.  They wanted to use the streets as a stepping stone to comedy clubs and sitcoms and The Big Time.  Witnessing this decline was too heartbreaking for me, and so I sailed away from it all - and began my sea gypsy life.

                                            *******

Friday, November 28, 2014

DON'T FOOL YOURSELVES - THEY ARE WINNING


by Ray Jason

     I do not keep using the term “The Malignant Overlords” just for shock value.  Admittedly, it has a certain “evil incarnate” quality that you might expect in comic book villains.  But I perceive this description not as an exaggeration - but as an accurate representation.  These “powers behind the throne,” these “Deep State operatives,” these “men behind the curtain” are not imaginary - but they are Evil.  They already possess an obscene and disgusting amount of wealth and power; and yet they are pathologically obsessed with an insatiable desire for even MORE.  They ARE Malignant Overlords.  And unfortunately, they ARE winning.
            Many of my well-informed and well-intentioned friends have succumbed to the magical thinking that the Internet can save us.  They contend that because it is such a powerful tool for revelation and emancipation, that the forces of darkness will soon be vanquished.  I disagree vehemently.  But I do not want to dash my friends’ illusions without substantial and convincing evidence.  So in this essay I will demonstrate how significantly The Malignant Overlords are succeeding in their ultimate goal of “ruling the world” despite the Computer Revolution and the World Wide Web.

Friday, November 14, 2014

THE TRUE ESSENCE OF THE SEA GYPSY TRIBE



       by Ray Jason
TULUM
     The Sea had hypnotized me again.  But this time I was not standing alone on the deck of my strong little sailing ship.  Instead, I was staring eastward at the Caribbean from the cliffs that guard the Mayan city of Tulum.  Behind me, the magnificent ruins were mesmerizing thousands of tourists.  They were jabbering in several languages about how strange and exotic it all was.  But what intrigues me about ruins is not their mysterious inscrutability, but the fact that they are such a perfect example of Paradox.  They are a genuine relic from the distant past; and yet they are also a profound reminder of what has vanished.
            My suspicion is that the questions that were percolating in my head were quite different from those of the typical visitor to this archaeological marvel.  They probably wondered how many servants the ruler had; and how they devised such an accurate calendar; and where the regular people had lived.  Whereas I was focused on more existential questions:  What had actually caused the collapse of their once mighty civilization?  Did the end come swiftly or gradually?  Had there been visionaries who foresaw the calamity and tried to warn the others?
          

Thursday, October 30, 2014

WHAT I THINK I KNOW

by Ray Jason

Ray on his birthday 2014



Today is my birthday, and as might be expected, I am in a particularly reflective mood.  As a gift to myself – and hopefully to you as well – I am going to attempt to clarify my current beliefs about “How the world works.”  This is not an easy task because those who are actually in charge of the planet relentlessly conceal their true motivations and methods.  If this subject proves intriguing to you folks out there, I will revisit it each year on my birthday.
                                                   
                                             *******          

But first, here is a short meditation on birthdays and age.  Because I am zealous about staying in shape, I am often asked how old I am.  My usual answer is, “I am in my Middle Years.”  Although this answer sounds evasive, it actually stems from a deeper inquiry into this topic.  My analysis is that there are four elements to human aging.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE DECEPTION


by Ray Jason

         Every October I foolishly get my hopes up as the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize approaches.  My dream is that the committee will finally proclaim that the greatest obstacle to world peace is American Imperialism.  And then they will elaborate on this by insisting that only when the U.S. Empire has vanished, can global harmony and justice prevail.  Therefore, they award the prize to some courageous writer or film-maker or activist who has been battling this death-spewing Leviathan.  
            But once more they have refused to notice the 800 pound War Lord in the middle of the room.   They have again chosen the “path most taken – the spineless one,” and bestowed the award on some noble but uncontroversial candidates.  By misdirecting our attention away from the indisputably evil scourge that is U.S. foreign policy, they have once again blockaded the road to actual Peace on Earth.
           

Friday, October 3, 2014

THE POWER OF SIMPLICITY

by Ray Jason


Part of AVENTURA'S library
When guests visit AVENTURA for the first time, there is often an awkward silence as they look around my small but beautiful cabin.  It usually takes about a minute as they try to understand what is so odd about my boat.  Finally, they usually will say something like this:


“Ray, where’s all your stuff?” 

My honest reply is “This IS ALL MY STUFF; and there’s far too much of it!”

“But where’s your entertainment center?” 

“Right there,” I answer, as I point to my bookshelves.


This tiny vignette serves to illustrate how addicted we are to stuff in the modern world.  And it is also a reminder that many people end up being possessed by their possessions.  I discuss this tragic situation in considerable detail at my earlier essay which is entitled “Enslaved by Our Stuff.”  I hope you will read it.  And to make it easy, here is the direct link to it.

                                 *******

But in this meditation on Simplicity, I want to focus on how our rulers use Materialism as a control mechanism.  In my essays, I refer to these manipulators as The Malignant Overlords - although in private conversation I frequently use more colorful and sailor-like terminology to describe them.  Certainly they trumpet their message of “BUY… BUY… BUY!!!” to engorge themselves in riches. But I contend that there is a more sinister motive behind their crusade to reduce us to mindless consumers.  Their deeper strategy is to enfeeble us into impotent dependency. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

ARISE YOUNG SEA GYPSIES

by Ray Jason
YOUNG SEA GYPSIES
           The old fisherman was smiling as he rowed his cayuco through the twilight tinted lagoon towards AVENTURA.  As he pulled alongside, he told me in Spanish that he had some very fine fish tonight.  Looking down into his bucket I agreed, and so I bought a nice fresh mangrove snapper.   When I went below to get some money, I also brought back a couple of cold Balboas – the local beer.  We drank them silently as we watched the sun’s amber descent behind the distant volcano.  Then he surprised me with an unexpected question. 
            “Que pais?” What country, he asked, as he pointed to the flag flying from my rigging.
            “No pais!” No country, I answered.
            “No pais?” He responded in a puzzled manner.
            “Correcto, soy un gitano del mar.”  That’s right, I am a sea gypsy. 
            Realizing that he still did not quite understand this, I lowered the flag down so that he could see it closely.  It is an Earth Flag with the classic photo of our planet from space. 
            “El Mundo es mi pais.  El Mar es mi pais, comprende?”  The World is my country.  The Sea is my country.  Do you understand?
            “Si, fantastico,” he said.  And then we sat quietly and finished our beers as the darkening sky shadowed the bay.  He passed me back the empty can and then reached into his bucket and brought out another fish.  In Spanish he told me that it was a gift – “for his friend whose country is the Sea.”

Friday, September 5, 2014

HOMAGE TO MY WONDERFUL MOM

by Ray Jason

With Mom at the Ray Jason Day event

The melancholy is heavy on me this morning.  It is my Mom’s death day.  And even though it was on a September 5th many years ago, I still grieve … deeply.  I was beside her in the emergency room in her final minutes.  She was already unconscious and the doctors were trying to shock her back.  I knew she would not return.  She had told me so the day before.

                                            *******
           
It had been her first day of physical therapy after a very severe cardiac attack that left her with only a third of a functioning heart.  With me holding one arm and the nurse on the other, we tried to gently help her take a few steps.  She could not.  This just staggered her.  When the nurse left us alone we had our last conversation together.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

THE THICK FACADE OF CIVILIZATION


by Ray Jason
Most of the sky was clear and starry, but ten miles out to sea there was a cluster of clouds filled with lightning.  I was anchored peacefully behind a low island that afforded me a perfect view of this dramatic spectacle.  Sitting on the foredeck with my back against the mast, I sipped some hot sake and marveled at this exquisite display.  Each burst of sky fire was contained within an individual cloud.  Some would erupt in amber-colored brightness and others would shimmer in soft silver or lavender.  The almost Japanese lantern quality of the clouds sparked a memory within me that I struggled to recall.  A second cup of sake unlocked the remembrance vault, and the incident drifted back.  It was a good one.     

Sunday, August 3, 2014

THE SEA GYPSY TRIBE - A SHIELD AGAINST TYRANNY


by Ray Jason

As our boats headed for an unspoiled anchorage, I sighed with relief – for this was such a perfect time to be getting away from it all.  Some longtime friends were sailing beside me, and I was introducing them to the glories of this magical archipelago.  For seven days we had no internet and almost no connection with the incorrectly named “real world.”  I consider the human built realm as the “artificial world” and Nature as the “authentic world.”
News from the “unreal” world had been particularly grim as we headed out for the solace of the islands.  The obscene butchery in Gaza had become so repellent that even UN shelters were now being targeted.  The insane demonizing of Russia and Putin was accelerating.  And new scientific studies were again proving that climate experts were underestimating the rate of ecological collapse. 
The couple who were sailing in their boat beside AVENTURA also had their nine year old son onboard.  It was a valuable experience for me to spend so much time in the company of a young person.  But I was deeply saddened by my forebodings of what type of planet he would inherit.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

TERROR IS NEVER SACRED


by Ray Jason

A  handsome catamaran recently docked near my lovely sailboat.  The captain is Russian and his wife is Turkish.  They have two children, and although they are too young for passports, I suspect that they are from the Kingdom of Joy.  That’s because all day long they spread their laughter and happiness throughout the marina.  Whether it is riding their tiny bicycles or fishing with their parents or trying to learn how to swim, their vibrant innocence delights and comforts me.
It has also inspired me.  The essay that I had been working on seemed lost in a mental labyrinth.  It deals with the immense subject of religion, and it had become too big and too confused.  But then a wave and a smile from the two kids suddenly made me realize that I should narrow my focus, and concentrate on religion and children.

                                  *******

Friday, July 4, 2014

A TWILIGHT FRIENDSHIP

by Ray Jason



It is pleasant having company.  A friend’s boat is anchored about thirty yards from AVENTURA in a peaceful little cove.  He is another solo sailor, which makes us kindred spirits and members of a very small fellowship.  I am watching him row through the amber-tinted twilight, dragging a fishing line behind his dinghy.  His sunset ritual is both functional and philosophical.  He is attempting to catch his dinner, while also immersing himself in the thinker’s milieu of Nature, silence and solitude.

            This evening there is no fish for him, but he is still smiling as he rows over.  He smoothly climbs aboard my sloop, as I tie his dinghy line to a cleat.
“Sorry Ray, no luck tonight,” he apologizes.
“Lawrence, our friendship has never relied on you providing a fish.”  Let me go below and fix us a couple of drinks worthy of this splendid sunset.”             

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

MUTUALLY ASSURED INCINERATION

by Ray Jason

Hiroshima Ground Zero Peace Park


It was halfway between midnight and dawn, and the moon had summoned me.  As an ocean sailor who has navigated my lovely boat across the Wide Waters using just the stars and my sextant, I pay more attention to the sky than city-folk.  And I also pay more attention to the Earth than sailor-folk.
At this very instant there are at least 150 blue water sailboats within 10 miles of me.  Their crews sleep peacefully.  They are not wondering, like I am, whether this lunar oddity will be the final one that humanity witnesses.  For tonight’s full moon will be the last one that falls on a Friday the 13th until 2049.  The question that troubles me is this: “Will the human project still exist in 35 years?”  My concern is not just delusional pessimism.  It is mushroom cloud terror.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

REALITY TV IS UNREAL


by Ray Jason

My friend Dmitry Orlov, who shares my belief that sailing boats are both excellent living platforms and superb escape modules, sent me an interesting email a few days ago.  He had been contacted by a stranger who was interested in possibly featuring him in a Reality TV show about “larger-than-life self-reliant sailors.”  Dmitry gracefully deflected that overture, and put him in touch with me instead. 
Coincidentally, I had been sorting through my notes on possible future essay topics, and was focusing in on an anti-television message.  This well-intentioned man’s email proved to be an excellent catalyst for my thoughts on this rarely examined cornerstone of the modern world.  This is the exact email letter that I sent to him with the exception that I have changed his name – to protect the innocent … 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

THE SEA GYPSY PHILOSOPHER ANNIVERSARY

by Ray Jason


          It was exactly one year ago today that I began my Sea Gypsy Philosopher blog.  The response has been very heartwarming.  So, I want to take a few minutes to thank everyone for their interest and encouragement.
            It is astounding to me that my little word-of-mouth site has been visited over 47,000 times in its first 12 months.  And having readers in 107 countries delights me immensely.
            The biggest highlight of the year was receiving an email from the Napalm Girl (Kim Phuc), thanking me for my anti-war essay that focused on her iconic but tragic photo.  It touched me deeply to hear from her - particularly since of the 25 essays thus far, I think that one is my best attempt at achieving the “Three Ps” that I strive for.  My goal is for each of my meditations to be Powerful, Provocative and Poetic. 
            Another very pleasing aspect of this first year has been how many important websites re-posted my essays.  Many of you now reading this, probably discovered SGP via one of those blogs.  Thank you to all of you webmasters willing to share with your readers my eccentric way of looking at the world.
            On a more personal and casual level, about six months ago a tourist, who is a regular reader of mine, was introduced to me.  She explained that my blog was one of her favorites, and that when she recommended it to her friends she always described me as the “Thoreau of the Sea.”  Since he is so high in my pantheon of heroes, that was a touching tribute.    
            Establishing a friendship with Dmitry Orlov was also a high point of this first year.  Besides both of us being somewhat oddball thinkers, we also enjoy the sea gypsy life first-hand, and believe in its critical worth if things should start unraveling in the future.  It was a delight passing time with him and his wife Natasha and their son Ilya at a secret location South of Many Borders.
            When I was conceiving my blog, I wanted to keep it as pristine and non-commercial as possible.  That is why there are no ads and no donation tab and not even an Amazon link to my first book.
My goal was to function as a sort of cyber-pamphleteer.  My desire was to just share my little essays with whoever might be intrigued by them.  That is why my bio is so brief.  I want the work to stand on its own … or crumble on its own…
However, this does not mean that I wish to discourage you from sharing my work with others.  So whenever a piece touches you, please send it along to others who might find merit and insight and comfort in it.  Although my stance is non-commercial, I greatly believe in the power of the people through word-of-mouth connections.
Thanks again, everyone.  I look forward to sharing my uncommon essays with you in the coming year … and years.           

   
           
           

Monday, May 26, 2014

A SEA GYPSY REVERIE

by Ray Jason


What a sweet, sublime awakening!  Three of Mother Ocean’s timeless clocks gently stirred me from sleep.  First, the boat shifted as the tide switched direction.  Then the sun nudged just high enough to peek into one of AVENTURA’s portholes.  And finally, a flock of wild parrots boisterously flew over the bay, swapping gossip and recipes. 
            I lay on my back wondering if the ship’s geckos were smiling as joyously as me.  Probably not, since they were unaware of how happily emancipated I felt.  Unlike so many of my fellow humans, I was not a slave to the Tyranny of Frenzy.  The dictators of Speed and Stuff did not control me.
            My plan had been to start a new essay this morning on some political or economic issue that was troubling me.  But then I heard … the laughter in the mango tree.  Three small cayucos were pulled up onto the beach of the little island where I was anchored.  There were many tiny, one-tree islands in my neighborhood, but those all featured tall, skinny palm trees.  But this one boasted an enormous mango tree.  And today it had five giggling interlopers.
            Up in the branches were two boys and a girl.  They would vigorously shake the limbs trying to dislodge some of the ripe fruit.  Down below a girl and a boy raced around with empty rice bags trying to catch the falling mangoes.  After half an hour, the rice sacks were almost full and the kids came down from the tree.  Then the five of them leaned their backs against their cayucos, stretched their bare feet into the water and savored a spring-time feast.  The scene was so pure and idyllic that I could visualize Gauguin reaching for his easel and brushes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

THE RIVER OF HUMAN FOLLY

 by Ray Jason


AVENTURA on the Rio Chagres

It was a self-imposed exile.  My initial diagnosis was “world weariness,” but after a few days of solitude on the Rio Chagres, it became clear to me that my true ailment was “human weariness.”  How could my species be so foolish, so destructive, so self-absorbed, and so unaware of the consequences of its actions?  It saddened me and it astonished me.  So I had come here to escape from humanity in order to contemplate it more clearly.
            Twice a day I would row as far up the river as the strength of the contrary current would permit me.  Then I would lazily drift back down to AVENTURA in my inflatable dinghy.  As I floated downstream, I savored a tapestry of exquisite beauty – the threads included shimmering water and bird song and fish play and monkey trees in the jungle.  By the fifth day, clarity was emerging as the river breezes and the exotic night sounds healed me.  The paradoxical magic of Solitude blessed me once again.  For days on end there was not a single human in view, but this absence intensified my focus on the human project - until it seemed as sharp as the vision of the osprey that circled overhead.
            Here is what I saw.  Civilization seems to be hurtling down two disastrous paths that are contrary to each other and yet connected to each other.  The first course is a societal ruination that is so catastrophic that I refer to it as apocalyptic collapse - or to create a term – APOCOLLAPSE.  The second course is a steady but accelerating reshaping of the western democracies into tyrannical police-surveillance states.  I call this FULL SPECTRUM NEO-FEUDALISM.    

Sunday, April 27, 2014

RHAPSODY ON A THEME BY SOCRATES


by Ray Jason


PACIFIC SWIFT
How could I NOT love a place called Gypsy Island?  Isla Gitana is how you say it in Spanish, but a few years before my arrival, it had a slightly less romantic name - Isla Muertos - or Island of the Dead.  That’s because part of it was a burial ground.  The locals had deliberately located it on an island far enough out in the Gulf of Nicoya so that the ghosts could not swim to the mainland.  In fact, in the months that I was there, they weren’t even able to make it out to AVENTURA - even though she was anchored only 30 yards from the shore.     
            My sojourn at Isla Gitana was both tranquil and rambunctious, with great new friendships and rollicking adventures.  But the highlight was surely the day that an actual Tall Ship anchored beside AVENTURA.  She was the PACIFIC SWIFT out of Vancouver - a sail training vessel full of bright, inquisitive teenagers out to see the world and gather some life lessons.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

SEA GYPSY FREEDOM


by Ray Jason

It was a moment of pure, transcendent bliss.  AVENTURA had just cleared some treacherous, shallow reefs south of Jamaica.  As I studied my chart, it suddenly dawned on me that now there was nothing but open Caribbean water between my lovely sailboat and a cornucopia of enchanting destinations.
            I could select the beautiful and historic walled city of Cartagena.  Or perhaps the stunning San Blas islands with their feisty Kuna Indians, who never fell to European conquest.  Maybe a visit to the magical Rio Chagres was in order.  It is a jungle wonderland where the howler monkeys outnumber the humans.  Or possibly I should set my course for the undiscovered jewel of the Caribbean – Bocas del Toro.  But then again, maybe I should sail west to the turquoise, fish-lush waters of Belize. 
Pondering these exquisite choices reinforced my belief that there is no freer way to live than the sea gypsy path.  Since I didn’t want to waste my fresh stash of Jamaican limes, I made myself a tall gin and tonic.  Then I retired to the foredeck with my clipboard.  Feeling utterly at peace - with the sails pulling and the wind-vane steering - I decided to inventory the many forms of freedom that wandering the Wide Waters bequeaths me.     
·        

Monday, March 31, 2014

THE WISDOM OF THE FOOL


by Ray Jason 
           
One of my favorite examples of sea gypsy tribal wisdom is this humorous aphorism: “The most dangerous thing on a boat is a … calendar!”  I can personally attest to this, since almost every serious calamity aboard AVENTURA resulted from being in the spider’s grasp of “a deadline.”  But there is one segment of the year where I do enjoy marking the passing days; and that is late March.  This enthusiasm stems from the imminent arrival of April Fools’ Day. 
            All Fools’ Day does not appeal to me because I enjoy playing pranks on people.  Instead, I savor it because of its links to the tradition of the court jester.  In an era when disagreeing with a king could be a beheading experience, the one exception was the resident fool.  He could lampoon the foibles and lunacy of royal conduct and usually live to tell. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR A YOUNG NON-CONFORMIST



by Ray Jason 

 The sky was as dark and nasty as the soul of a Dostoyevsky villain.  Huge, powerful clouds that looked like charcoal dipped in molten lead, were blasting down the mountainside towards AVENTURA.  I let out more anchor chain and checked the deck for any loose items.  Then I went below to await the tempest.  It did not disappoint!  Fierce wind ushered in rain as strong as a tropical waterfall.  After 20 minutes the worst of it passed and the sky lightened to a sort of pewter gray.  The rain decreased from torrential to steady. 
This was the perfect accompaniment for my present task.  I had just responded to a heartfelt email from an unknown teenager who found solace in my writing.  He was struggling with the awareness that he was different from most of his classmates; and that he did not fit in.  High school can be a very cruel environment for someone who does not conform.  I sent him an encouraging email, but then realized that there are so many others in their formative years who are battling the same demons.  And so I decided to write an essay dealing with their difficulties in the hopes of bolstering both their spirits and their resolve.
  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

SEA GYPSY CLARITY

by Ray Jason

My hands just would not let go!  For 30 seconds they remained attached to my lovely AVENTURA even though I was already standing in the launcha ready to head off on the first leg of a long trip back to the so-called “real world.”  Finally, the boatman said, “Ramon, are you okay?”  This shook me out of my trepidation trance and I replied, “Sorry, Ignacio, vamanos – let’s go!”
I have now returned from that journey - and my hands were right.  Each reunion with “normalcy” staggers me so brutally that I wonder whether I can ever go back again.  For a sea gypsy like me, who experiences it only every few years, the modern world looks like low-grade lunacy.
·       The frantic yet fruitless frenzy of the car culture – accelerating up to sixty mph even though the next gridlock stoppage is clearly visible 100 yards ahead. 
·       The sad and tragic disconnection of those who believe that they are so “connected.”  
·       The cultural mean-spiritedness that worships competition and power and ridicules co-operation and sensitivity.
·       The Everywhereness of Television.  In this NSA version of our Cowardly New World of 1984 Plus 30, it is even more troubling knowing that The Screen is probably watching us as much as we are watching it.
·       The ever-increasing incompetence and unpleasantness of the bureaucracies that are utterly inescapable in the modern world.

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