Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Some Random Thoughts

We have been at sea since yesterday, so I thought that I'd use the time to reflect on some scattered thoughts about this wondrous trip so far. These are presented in no particular order, and if they seem somewhat incoherent it is because I am heavily medicated due to a slightly rocky ocean. No baseball caps have be thus far necessary, but I am keeping it close at hand. 

• As we sailed through the incredibly calm and majestic waters of Glacier Bay yesterday, I couldn't help but revel in the beauty and I yearned for a closer and more personal view. I have several friends who kayak as a hobby, and one in particular has been trying to get me into a boat for years. For a variety of reasons; cold, wet, potentially choppy waters, I have consistently found reasons to avoid the experience. Yesterday, as I saw kayakers smoothly paddle towards the mouth of the glaciers, I couldn't help but feel envious. I could only imagine the joy of coming face to face with a sea lion or sea otter, or even being in the near presence of an orca pod. If my friend is still willing to coach a rookie, I might have to give kayaking a try. (But only on clam flat water and not in near freezing temperatures. I'm still me after all.)

• We have had many discussions during our weekly Torah study as to the sentience of beings other than humans. And while science is still split on how various animals think and feel, I have always believed that there is real emotion and intellectual brilliance in that world, especially amongst higher order mammals. The whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and otters we have viewed in their natural homes throughout this trip have just reinforced that notion for me. These are socially advanced creatures with a strong need to nurture, maintain family bonds, and communicate. Watching an eagle carefully feed her young in a nest high above the confines of my earth, only further demonstrates to me that we are at our most arrogant when we pretend that animals are here for the sole purpose to serve us. Now, I am certainly not advocating for everybody to suddenly stop eating meat, but I am most definitely suggesting that a more mindful way of thinking about how we use animal products in our everyday existences would go a long way towards an environmentally sustainable way of life. We share this planet, we don't rule it. 

• If you have the opportunity, you must travel. It doesn't matter how you do it or where you choose to go, but staying home should never be the only option. There is a world outside your front door. Open it. Explore your neighbourhoods and then your cities or towns. Walk, hike, bike, bus, drive, boat...just get out there and greet the world. You can stay local or go exotic, rural or urban. It can be inexpensive or first class, it matters not. Just reach beyond the parochialism of your safety zone and see something new. All of our world views could use some expansion. This is a trip I honestly never thought we would take. The chilling temperatures up here are definitely not in my comfort zone of the tropics. How I would have missed out had I not ventured beyond the comfortable. 

• One final point...and it is an important piece of advice. Never ever ever get between cruising Americans and their path to the buffet. We have been elbowed, stepped on, crushed, and nearly trampled. I am trying not to assign national labels to such behaviour, but my anecdotal experience on this particular ship has been that this is an exclusively American issue. Be on the lookout for the Stars and Stripes while online for food. 

That's all for now. Tomorrow we are in Whittier and then we fly south from Anchorage to Seattle. See you again from Washington State. 

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