Saturday, October 14, 2017


Life can be confusing and I suppose that's why a lot of us go sailing in the first place.

You go sailing and while it is really just normal life that has been taken to a new venue there is also a release from some of the more inflated trivial concerns of everyday life. In the sailing life you are presented with the very concrete challenges of getting your little boat across an ocean, as well as the opportunity to contemplate the deep peace that comes from being a thousand miles from land. On a well-found boat, in the company of your family, making your way slowly though determinedly to your chosen goal.

This is all very nice.

Then you come back to land life, say after being away for ten years.

Among your fellow sailors, "swallowing the anchor" is legendarily the hardest thing there is about the entire sailing life.

But you scoff at this a bit.

First, you are at least for now keeping the boat and dreaming of new things to do with her.

And second, it's just land life. Don't be precious, you think to yourself. Get on with it.

But while you've been away all of your land friends have been building their lives around those confusing bits and have presumably achieved a certain equanimity. But you're all new to it again, and things do have a way of stacking up.


Eric and Elias' schools had a "lock-down" last week.

If you're in the US, you know what this means, and if you're not, you can probably guess. Schools in the US have adopted a code of best practices for minimizing fatalities during massacres. A kid at the Kodiak high school was overhead making an actionable threat against the school, and the system was triggered. Kids sheltered in place - locked into their classrooms, curtains drawn, on the floor and silent. The Kodiak police department geared up for an active shooter and secured the buildings.

Nothing came of it.

On earlier visits back to the US I remember asking family and friends with young kids what they thought of mass shooting drills and the impact on their kids.

"Oh, they just call them lock downs," was the typical response. "The kids call them that, and they don't really know what they're for."

Well, I can assure you that our kids know what they're for.

Eric came home with a second grader's incomplete understanding about some sort of bad guy who might do something bad. Elias quickly disabused him of any comforting lack of specificity and said no, we were locked down because there might be someone coming to the school to shoot kids.

Eric is now afraid to go outside for recess, and before he uses the head he asks his mom to check the big locker where we store toilet paper to make sure there's nothing bad in there.

I have plenty of responses to this state of affairs in the US as a social and political issue, but not so many as it plays out in my kids' everyday life. I found myself being able to say nothing at all when it was discussed at the dinner table that night. I suppose I'll try to explain to the kids about the soothing role of probability in assessing how worried we should be about things like school shootings. And I'll also adopt a certain troubled equanimity about the nature of the world, and how coming to grips with it is an inescapable part of growing up.

More immediately, Elias and Eric have a four-day weekend, and we have untied the dock lines and headed out for a little jaunt to visit a couple Kodiak anchorages that we've never visited before. There are lots of those.

And, for these few days, we'll revisit that solace of the sailing life. Town life will be waiting for us when it's time to go back.

This post was sent via our high-frequency radio as we're far from internet range. Pictures to follow when we reach internet again. We can't respond to comments for now, though we do see them all!

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  1. Thank you for continuing to share your insider/outsider perspective on life in the USA. I find your perspective on American life quite interesting, though often sad. So much of the the current culture in the USA is unfathomable to us who live elsewhere. The fact that lockdowns at school is an accepted reality is frightening. Good luck to you all during your time in Alaska.

  2. I'm glad you find the reading worthwhile.

    We find ourselves in interesting times.