23 July 2012 § 1 Comment
Sitting in the fire, chin up, palms out. Remember to breathe. Always say thank you, even if in your worst moments you do not mean it.
The rain, whose droplets of anger, disgust, insolence, and fermented grief, washes me, and it is best if I let it continue its journey to the ground and out to sea. It is not for me. I am out here despite it, doing my own works – rotating shackles of nets, picking salmon from them, ensuring that my co-workers are not killed – and I tell myself that I can adapt to anything for six weeks, deal with anyone, and learn volumes in the process.
My voice quivers sometimes.
I am not always sure of my right-ness.
It amuses me how little the intense physical requirements of commercial fishing actually challenge me. Standing on deck for endless hours of rain and wind, going without sleep for days, hands molded into claws from picking web out of gills, roundhauling web at the very last second before the period closes, muscles having given out fifty fathoms ago. And the wounds never heal until after the season. Paper cuts last for ages out here. Yet I’m still here, a part of a fringe culture, among friends but not family, in a society thrown together by outcasts whose purpose, whether they realize it or not, is to feed the world they’ve abandoned.
The challenge is working with characters whose pain and anguish flow only during dreary summers at sea, when their lives Outside seem more important but far away. The challenge is not making anything about me. Not taking anything personally. Translating what is being said into what is meant to be communicated. I’ve learned new languages, mannerisms, ways to shut up and work, and may be compensated later. For the time being, my self-worth is locked in a box somewhere in the Alaska wilderness. I try to not think about it.
I’m learning to Let Go. To apply letting go to me. To crash through my brick walls and arrive on the other side not only unscathed but lighter. The blood moves the heartache away. If something feels good, add pressure. Do not run to escape. Accept the consequences and move on.
Yesterday I walked across the cushionsoft tundra, laid down in the sprinkling rain and listened to airplanes rev up and take flight, moving air. In moments they’ll be in other worlds, away from here, and soon I’ll be back at sea, once again wavering. Wondering why I’m here. What if it defines me? Am I out here solely to make money, in order to do the other things I love?
I backstack questions on the deck; they fly off the stern at 30 knots. If the corks get fucked up on the way out, there’s nothing I can do but pull it in and take what I can. Try it again.
I’ve lived the fishing analogy my whole life, and only now, after a season working on one of the top boats in Bristol Bay, realize that I’ve rejected this moment, given it only what it requires, for the next one, for just as long. The wise man spoke that truth ages ago. Sometimes we have to learn it ourselves.
In this blubbering opaque, I’m trying to find clarity. It will be here shortly. Don’t worry if the sentences run together, or if the words come out smudged. It’ll make sense soon.