Friday, February 11, 2011

Lessons from Robinson Crusoe

I am currently reading Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" and all I've got to say is WOW!  What a life this epic character led!  Driven a by the lust for the sea, he leaves home as a teen, gets shipwrecked, gets back on another ship only to be captured by pirates, becomes a slave to said pirates, escapes on another ship, becomes a prosperous land owner in Spain, gets on yet another ship whence, finally, he was shipwrecked for the last (I think?) time on the deserted island we readers and non-readers alike all have come to know.  All before the rip old age of twenty-seven.

The book is magnificent and despite it's heavy 18th Century English it continues to resonate with me.  While his circumstances are much more extreme and dire than ours, I find so many parallels between what Crusoe is going through and our cruising experience.

There is something beautiful (and, possibly, tragic?) about how a life can drastically change shape based on choice and circumstance.  For example, Crusoe makes this observation, "In a word, the nature and experience of things dictated to me upon just reflection that all the good things of this world are no farther good to us than they are for our use."  While he had a chest full of gold and silver, it was of no use to him on his deserted island - yet he would have done just about anything for a pair of shoes.  Again, we are not at all living in such bleak circumstances - but it seems each and every day we shed something of our former land life.  Make-up is a think of the past - as are daily showers.  People no longer ask "What do you do?" because, out here, it doesn't matter.  Instead of the news we listen to the weather, and each and every day we continue to learn how easy it is to live without the modern-day conveniences that we had previously grown so accustomed.  It's an interesting study, for sure.

This is, however, a life of extremes.  Crusoe says it best when he says (after discovering Cannibals live on his island, where he thought he was alone and walked around freely for twenty-some years), "How strange a checker-work of Providence is the life of man!...Today we love what tomorrow we hate; today we seek what tomorrow we shun; today we desire what tomorrow we fear.....Such is the uneven state of human life...".  What a great, honest, oh-so human observation and one that we who live on the sea deal with daily.  Today we love our engine when tomorrow we might curse it; today we enjoy a peaceful calm anchorage when tomorrow we might awake in the midst of a squall; today the sea is calm as glass and our friend when tomorrow she might be angry as hell and our mortal enemy.  You just never know what is in store...

So many observations, so many insights, so much to be learned from books and extreme circumstances. Lessons on fate, on destiny, on making one's lot in life and choices.  Just thought I'd share.


Brittany & Scott


Allen Tyson said...

Hey You Two :- Great blog today, good reflections. One thing I do with the kids I tutor is slip into conversations about choices in life and how they will affect you going forward. So far they have listened to the Sage Mr. AJ Keep going Love the pic's and blog. Happy V-Day..

Cliff said...

Great observations, and conclusions. I am always encouraged by the thoughts of others who are in the process of doing what I look forward to do. Shedding misconceptions is always fun. Shedding "necessities" is even more fun for me now.
I wish I had done what you are doing back in the 1970s.

Dan N Jaye said...

Great post, great job! We're here in the land of limited internet so its always fun to have a blog-feast when we do connect. A lot of fun to see you discovering the things we saw last year and see them thru your eyes - looking forward to reading what you have to say about the iguanas on Allens!

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