It is rare that when something begins, you immediately recognize its importance. On February 16th, I wrote in my journal, "I know I am going to want to return to right now." Even so early on, I could tell the Cramer was a place of both personal growth and learning through collaboration.
As we close the distance to Key West, I feel more reflective, and wonder how anyone could possibly want to do anything else but this. On land you can't wake up for a midnight neuston, or look over the side of the ship at night to see tiny bioluminescent buddies shimmering in the water! What's life if you're not chasing sargassum shrimp around a bucket with a spoon? On land, you don't learn to live with this planet as you do at sea.
Lauren ecstatic about mass amounts of sargassum!
You aren't at the mercy of squalls or changes in the wind. You don't shift sleeping position based on tack or suddenly tumble a few feet across a room. You don't jump up for the stairs when you hear shouts of "green flash in three minutes!" from above. This exciting lifestyle has become so normal that my shipmates and I often find ourselves swaying as we stand at various ports of call. Certainly, it is draining to always be at 110%, but nothing has ever been more worth it.
Throughout our illuminating voyage, I have wrangled with environmental hopelessness. I often feel as though I am witnessing the end of something so beautiful. Where is our generation's place in striving to help this changing planet? During the first few weeks, I worried that I had been too idealistic about positive change in the past. But I kept meeting and growing closer to people. People we have been so fortunate to learn from at our port stops, as well as people on board this ship. The world around us is wild and mesmerizing and humbling, and from Mooretown to the Alligator Head Foundation to the Fisherman Cooperative Espiruto Santo, I have been drawn to tears by the incredible power of people. They are doing such admirable work, and approach challenges head-on every day. The power and resilience of their communities is inspiring.
This extends to Mama Cramer as well. As you may have read about, JWO phase has begun. I have never been the loudest person, and was worried that this would impede me from JWO success. But Cap said something the other day when he was talking about JWO with us; he said it's not about being loud, but about being confident. That confidence has been growing during my time at sea, largely due to my supportive fellow C-watchers. I feel so grateful to have had the privilege to stand watch with these inspiring human beings for the past five weeks. I learned so much from each and every one of them. My
first shift as JWO was Friday evening, and I am so grateful for the enthusiasm and hard work of my watch. I definitely wouldn't be anywhere without them! (Gen and Peter, you are both dearly missed!)
It is because of people that I have been able to deal with that emotion of hopelessness about the state of our planet. My shipmates, and the truly awesome members of organizations with whom we have interacted, inspire me to push myself and have hope. My shipmates were there for me when I needed pep talks before JWO, when I cried at the sight of the majestic and ever so charismatic humpbacks off port side, and when I felt above the world (aloft!!!) If anyone can bring about a positive change for this world, it's the people I have had the privilege to cross paths with on this voyage. I hope to bring what I have learned from everyone here with me after we dock. I will do my best to always learn from everyone and everything around me, remain humble as the seas and night sky have taught me, and channel sadness into motivation.
At one port stop, I spoke with my sister, and tried to explain my emotions. She sent me a quote in response that is ever so applicable to what we have learned in the past six weeks, and that I would like to share with all of you following along: "To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget." (Arundhati Roy)
- Anna Golub, C Watch, Lafayette College
P.S. Much love to Mom, Dad, & all others following along back home! Em, thank you for that quote. Poppy, don't worry, I'm keeping up with the book, and I can't wait to show it to you when I get back.