Sail on Sailor…

“Life would be pretty monotonous if the sky was always blue.” Robin Graham

“One learns from the sea how little one needs, not how much. These were our islands now, islands cut off from the world of concrete and steel, from freeways and television.”

“Happiness has no frontiers, that it’s a state of mind and not a possession, not a set route through life, not a goal to be gained but something that steals in gently like an evening mist or the morning sunlight—something beyond our control.”

I have always had a bit of wanderlust. I attribute it to reading. I started reading at a young age. Although the first things I read were comic books. And by reading I mean looking at the pictures. But fairly soon it dawned on me that taking the time to read the content of the speech bubbles made the whole experience much richer. It did lead to some habitual mispronunciations, as I tended to phonetically sound the words out. Hors d’oeuvres (“hors duh vores”) anyone?

Comics led to magazines, which led to books. For this post I’m going to pause on the magazines. One of my uncles would go to the library and get all the old National Geographic magazines after they were beyond their shelf life. When he was finished with them, and we would go to Indiana to visit, he’d give them to us. I devoured them. NatGeo indeed opened up the world to me. And there was one series of articles which caught my eye and left me with a great desire to see the world.

In 1968 National Geographic published the first of three articles covering a sixteen year-old boy’s quest to circumnavigate the globe. Alone. His name was Robin Graham, and I devoured all three articles. You could actually say that this was my first binging, because of how I received the magazines, I got all the issues at the same time. I was eight years old at the time the first story was published, but probably about ten when I read them. Being on the cusp of adolescence, I already admired teens as superior. Yet I had read enough, especially National Geographic, to realize just how unique Robin’s story was. And so I dove in.

An apt choice of verb, as the name of Robin’s boat was the Dove. Robin himself wrote the articles, as well as provided the photographs. A self-timer camera to capture himself in some of his sailing duties. The story was endearing to me as I could sort of relate. A young dude doing a thing. Not that I was doing a thing, only living vicariously through him. Endearing in other ways also. Along the journey, he acquired some friends. Friends in the form of two cats. He named these cats Fili and Kili, from two of the Dwarfs in the Hobbit. Interestingly Kili was blind.

I followed Robin’s journey, which took over four years, with rapt attention. Feeling his ingenuity when he solved a sleeping problem. Namely, how to keep the boat pointed in the right direction. He contrived a device which he attached to the rudder to keep the boat on course. If memory serves, he named this device Gandalf. Honestly I was in the throes of reading Tolkien at the time, and this alone drew me into the story. The two cats I mentioned were just two of the numerous pets he had throughout this long adventure. And adventure it was.

Robin’s trip was not a do it and done adventure. His story was the first time I was informed of the concept that the adventure lies in the journey, not the destination. Robin would take frequent breaks along the way, and work to earn money to finance his trip. On one of these breaks he met an American woman whom he would later marry. In more ways than just adventure did this trip change Robin’s life.

I am definitely on a travel bent with my posts. For now. I’m sure I’ll punctuate these with philosophical posts of varying magnitudes of veracity. Travel is definitely on my mind. The pandemic has curtailed travel for me. And the state of air travel, at leas in the USA has me not wanting to fly. The airline industry’s misaligned handling of passengers, and the horrible behavior of some facets of the American people. People just acting ugly. I will continue to travel in my life. I can’t not travel I think.

I would highly recommend you check out Robin Lee Graham’s books. Please note that I do not receive any benefit from any purchase you may make.

I hope you all get a chance to experience a journey in your life, of of your life, that is as positive as Robin’s seems to have been. And better.

Peace and Love

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