the act or process of moving through, under, over, or past something on the way from one place to another
There are many types of sailors and many kinds of sailing. Day sailors and blue-water sailors. Racing or cruising or passage-making. No one is better or worse than the others, they are simply different experiences. I love a long, blue-water passage. It provides an opportunity to disconnect from life in the western world, and to reconnect to the natural rhythm of spiritual life. Time is measured by sunsets and moon rises. Connection is the currency of choice: to self, to other crewmates, to the blue world around you. On a recent passage, sailing offshore from Connecticut to Florida, these words found me after a long night of dancing with the North Atlantic:
Each day is mostly the same: some combination of sea+sky+self
Empty space in a small space
Millions of shades of blue, millions of stars
Beauty that brings tears: the dark eye and white belly of a dolphin, the spinning Milky Way, the small land bird that hitched a ride and sang me awake
Everything on land is quiet, everyone on land is safe
The opportunity to find every human emotion, the experience of feeling them deeply, newly, unexpectedly
The sea builds into mountains, the ship surfs down their faces
The sea builds into mountains, she crashes into them
The puffs of white gather and bring rain, witchy winds
A gray, colorless sunset
Kitten’s paws turn into tiger’s hands
Courage grows dim as the light leaves and the darkness creeps in
The wind howls like a wolf, like a thousand packs of hunting wolves
She howls through the rig and her hungry voice rips the tops off the waves
The ocean is messy, wild, jumping over the bow and across the stern, from every direction
The sea rises crashes swells spits
Stormy night watches last forever
And when sleep comes, it is part exhaustion, part refuge
The back of the body stuck to the bunk like Velcro, the top shifting like a pile of Jello
And each time the ship plunges into the sea, bioluminescence scream across the portlight, like comets or fairy dust or tiny universes
There is no place quite like the North Atlantic in a good blow
Another day, another moment, another combo of sea+sky+self
Sky a’fire by a setting sun as a black moonless night descends
Without horizon or orientation or clouds, with only stars
The sea a mirror of the sky a mirror of the sea
Difficult to distinguish ship’s lights from starlight from reflected light
Souls suspended between here and there
Shooting stars and planets spinning and binary systems rising
Why do I choose to go on these passages?
To experience the world beyond patterns and routines and triggers and reactions
To experience more of everything
We are each on a passage whether we know it or not. Perhaps literally, physically moving from one place to another, or perhaps metaphorically…through a phase or a transition or a moment, through grief or love or longing. We are each on the way from one place to another, the dynamic life of a soul having a human experience. A passage isn’t always comfortable, in fact, it’s usually not comfortable at all. It’s out beyond what-we-know where things get interesting, where we come alive and experience life.
Where are you now?
Where do you want to go?
What’s your threshold for discomfort?