Leave the Year Awake and A Wake

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Not so fast. Narrow River, RI

It’s the last day of a year that sped by at warp speed during the wholesome days and glacially when times turned harsh. Confucius said, “Time flows away like water in a river.” Some people approach life by going with the flow wherever it may take them. Not me. I know rivers. Sure, they are fun to play on and pretty to look at but they can’t be trusted. Their flow is often unpredictable and impossible to control from a boat. Rivers flow into dark and scary places, breech their banks, and and lay havoc to land. They have a perverse habit of changing everything they pass through.


JAL & GHL Aboard Finn, Narrow River, RI

Not all of us are content, or for that matter even able, to go with the flow. Simply drifting with the current or doing what others expect us to do rarely carries anyone to our dreams. I’m at my best when on the river taking charge of my boat, going in whatever darn direction I choose. Whether speeding upstream under power or tacking sails to cross the channel there is undeniable freedom that brings great bliss. When my boat moves I disturb the flow. I leave a bow wake. It’s the essence of being awake and one with the moment. I’m set to made wakes and put 2016 astern.

I’m going to fill my sails with wind, cross currents, plow up-stream, and disregard the tug of strong ebb tides. Disturbing the flow demands being awake. I’ve

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Newport, RI

got to pay attention to where I’m going and how hard I push the boat to get there. My decisions create bow wakes as the water is forced to get out of my way. Dolphins love to leap through bow wakes. Boaters don’t. When sails fill, or paddles settle into rhythmic J strokes, or the propeller spins – it’s going to take some time to stop me. I must temper my desire for speed with the safety of others. I need to be awake and judge the impact of my wake. Sometimes the only safe thing to do will be to slow down to lessen the size of my waves and spare others from being disturbed.

We do not live in a No Wake Zone. People all around us are moving pretty fast in many directions at speeds that make waves. Our country seems set on creating a tsunami -sized wake that by the nature of change is going to disturb the flow. We are aboard a great vessel in the river of time. We’re moving away and creating lots of waves. Some will surf the bow wakes of change with great joy. Others will be caught in the rips and struggle. I’m just one sailor among many. I can only attempt to command my own boat. I’m setting a course for 2017 that will keep me awake and well aware of the wakes created whenever my actions disturb the flow. Carpe Momentum. 


Aboard the Jamestown-Newport Ferry

Winter Solstice


Sunrise @ The Nest over Inter Coastal Water Way, Indian Rocks Beach, FL

Solstice means, sun standing still. Or so it seems when our very own stellar wonder rises over the horizon at Stonehenge, triumphs over darkness and blesses day with light. 12/21 (a mathematical palindrome!) is the shortest day of 2016. It is exactly 7 hours, 49 minutes, and 41 seconds, shorter than the June Solstice. This means we have about 8 extra hours of darkness to snuggle by the fire, wrap gifts, and binge watch Netflix.

Today is the start of the solar year. It’s time to honor an ancient celebration of light and rebirth of the sun. The sun in its annual infancy, it’s weak and can’t produce much warmth or stay up very late. The parallels between honoring sun and a Son every December are obvious, but for the moment let’s focus on a star that’s 93 million miles away.

The longest night affords us time to look deeply into the tiny wonders of our lives. The Druids believe Solstice is a time to feel at home in the world and to be just where you belong. That’s rather Zen as it tells us to be mindful of who we are and what we are doing on this very short day. At the same time, the Druid challenge is to honor Solstice by taking a long look at whether or not our actions are just. The Druids mulled over this existential notion by slaughtering cattle that could not be fed over the long winter but could feed the entire village. Living for others is a cow’s destiny. They also celebrated the Solstice for signaling that the wine and beer brewed during the harvest were finally fermented and ready to drink. Headaches during the short days that followed appear to be one of the many the perils of winter.


SunRise July Solstice, Jamestown, Rhode Island.

Let’s think about just being where we belong. Just what? Naughty or nice? Is being just the same as being good? Defining good is something that has deeply divided us but I’ve got a handful of notions about good.

  1. Wheels are good, as are propellers and sails. They help us get from here to there without wearing out our shoes or fins. There are wheels inside wheels and we need to roll with them because not even the sun can stand still for long. If what goes around comes around it’d better be good, less the wheel gets a flat and we go nowhere.
  2. Evergreens and mistletoe are good. They remind us of everlasting life and at least one of them smells good while the other draws kisses from those we hope smell good. Lighting up a Christmas tree reassures us that the sun will keep it’s promise to spend more time growing daylight.
  3. Long winter nights are good for quieting one’s soul from all the glare of days too crammed with “gottas” and Do Lists.
  4. Short days are good because they seed a hope that the future will be brighter. They caution us not to hope the days will be so much warmer that we fry the planet. Life is short and we’d best take good care of it and our home.
  5. It’s good to feel at home and be just where you belong. Home is where most of us, most of the time, feel loved and can love in return. That’s part of being just. We could all do well to end this year trying to be fair and reasonable, unprejudiced, and even-handed.

In fact, it would be really nice if just for today – and it’s a very short day – we could practice being just nice. Maybe if we try again tomorrow, and the day after (because after all, He knows if you’ve been a wicked pain in the celestial butt of creation or a joy to behold) being nice will become a habit. Today Earth is 3 million miles closer to the sun than we are at the June Solstice. It’s not our proximity to each other that keeps us warm, it’s the love we share wherever we are.

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Same Sun Rise – a moment later.