Thursday, July 28, 2016

FINDING JOY IN THE ABYSS



by Ray Jason          

          Why do I linger here in the Archipelago of Bliss? 
After all, my stalwart little ship could carry me away to any of the exotic lands that have whispered to wanderers down the centuries.  We could drop anchor amidst the palm-fringed isles of the South Pacific.  We could explore the mist- shrouded coast of Japan.  Or we could visit Easter Island - with its gigantic stone heads that endlessly stare at the Wide Waters.
And yet I remain entranced by this little dollop of islands in the Undiscovered Caribbean.  Recently, I finally realized why I am so enchanted by this place.  It is because this is a Land beyond Time. 
This revelation arrived in a sweet and poignant manner.  I was starting to raise my anchor when I noticed a commotion on the nearby shore.  A small group of men were dragging a log from the jungle down to the tiny beach.  The Indio children were laughing and leaping in spasms of delight.  That’s because they knew that their dad would soon transform this tree trunk into a … cayuco. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

A CRY FOR SANITY


by Ray Jason

photo by Eric Gaillard
Jihadists of the world awaken from your putrid trance!!!  You have been mesmerized by a filthy madness.  Here is the essence of that lunacy, since you apparently do not see it. 
You are turning innocent, bright-eyed little girls into flattened, oozing pulp because of an un-provable belief.  You are randomly butchering living, caring human beings because you see them as infidels.  You are smearing the walls of airports and bus stations with the intestines of grandmothers because you believe that your god is better than their god. 
You are committing these atrocities FOR WHAT?  The innocents that you massacre did you no harm and did not even know you.  WAKE UP!!!  Behold what you are actually doing.  You are slaughtering these breathing, dreaming, amazing human beings because of what - because of ideas, verses in a book, dogma, and taunts from a pulpit.  These are all ABSTRACTIONS!  These are NON-LIFE, and you are exterminating REAL LIFE because of them.  Such blind conduct is both obscene and absurd.  How would you like me to enter your home and gun down your children in the name of Geometry?            
Let me address some of your abstractions.  Your supposed god, Allah, has been a scourge on humanity for nearly as long as the other two main “sky-god” religions.  And yet in the thousands of years of their supposed existence, there has been no clear and decisive manifestation of any of these gods to the people of Earth.  If they are so all powerful, why have they not made an appearance to silence the millions of non-believers who have doubted them down through the centuries?  We only learn of them through the rantings of reality-challenged males who supposedly can part the seas and resurrect themselves from death and ascend into the sky on a winged horse. 
And yet, to serve your invisible god in the sky, you would let your truck of death disembowel an innocent little girl.  You will never witness her as she clings to her little doll and tries to understand the instant, unbearable pain that overwhelms her like a bright white blackness.  And what kind of future has your viciousness and your Allah bequeathed her parents whose lives are now forever darkened with a despair that can never be healed?
Here is another one of your abstractions that manifests itself in the most horrific manner - Jihad or Holy War.  Can you not see the sickness at the very core of any concept that must be spread by the sword?  Would you choose anything that has to be forced upon you?  And yet you see no madness in imposing your religion with the pin of a grenade.  Perhaps you even rejoice at the sight of a terrified grandmother soiling herself as you detonate every living being near you.
And what type of Holy Warrior attacks unprotected civilians - the type who is actually an Unholy Coward.  This type is also a tactical idiot.  Who could possibly perceive such despicable acts of terror as a means of winning the hearts and minds of potential supporters?  But when one has been hypnotized by another un-provable abstraction – the one which claims that martyrs to the cause of jihad will be serviced by dozens of virgins after they immolate the infidels – then one’s judgment is demented.
Certainly, I will not deny that some of your jihadist rage stems from blowback to the hideous suffering that the West has imposed upon you with its bombs and drones and soldiers.  But the ordinary, little people of Europe and North America did not initiate that nor did they support that.  And so when you target them for your crusade of carnage, you are only intensifying the absurdity of your assertion that Islam is the Religion of Peace. 
Try proving that to the families whose loved ones were just splattered mercilessly on a sidewalk and street in Southern France.      


Thursday, July 7, 2016

SEA GYPSY NOCTURNE # 2


by Ray Jason

Something startled me from sleep.  Because solo sailors need to be extremely alert in order to avoid catastrophes, my finely-tuned emergency reflexes immediately kicked in.  I lay on my bunk in the darkness listening for unusual sounds and monitoring abnormal movement.  But I detected neither.  Suddenly, I realized what had unsettled me, and I laughed quietly.  I had been awoken by the intense stillness and silence.  In a modern world drowning in frenzy and noise, such profound peace and quiet was … disquieting.
            Since I live so immersed in Nature, I knew what phase the moon was in, and so I went up on deck to watch its descent behind the jungled mountains.  The little bay was so tranquil that there was not a ripple in the water.  It had transformed itself into a moon mirror.  No fish splashed and no night bird sang out an alert.  This was primordial serenity. 
            Recognizing that the moonset was probably about 90 minutes away, I headed below and made some tea.  Then I went topside again with my cup and my clipboard with its little reading light.  This was a philosopher’s dream scenario – Solitude, Stillness and Silence. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

IN PRAISE OF LOWER EDUCATION



by Ray Jason          


           One of the great joys of my sea gypsy life is the wonderful sense of camaraderie that exists amongst the ocean sailing community.  Because we have voluntarily embraced dangers that land-dwellers vigorously avoid, we have a deep sense of kinship.  And when we gather together in foreign ports, we are extremely helpful to each other because we are essentially a wandering, water-winged tribe.  This is a far cry from the isolation and suffocation of the modern suburbs.
            A common fixture of our little sub-culture is something called “The Morning Net.”  It is a radio broadcast in which the sailors can share valuable information.  If you need to borrow a torque wrench or check on the surf report or sell an item that you no longer need, the Net will assist you.  And if there is a genuine emergency such as a snake bite, the sailors’ radios will light up with help from our many Sea Samaritans.
            About a week ago, the Morning Net also bequeathed me the subject for this essay.  I noticed that cruisers were requesting help from the various tradesmen scattered amongst our fleet.  People were seeking a diesel mechanic and a refrigeration specialist and a welder and fiberglass worker and an electrician.  But more importantly, I noticed that nobody was seeking help from a hedge fund manager or a “political scientist” or an expert in gender studies.  (Actually, the cruising community has gender issues fairly well figured out.  The common joke is that the husbands may be the Captains, but the wives are the ADMIRALS!)  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

A SUPER BOWL EPIPHANY



by Ray Jason


It probably seems odd for me to post an essay on this topic in June instead of in February when the game takes place.  However, the ideas in this piece just came to me in such a spontaneous gush, that it seemed like they wanted to get out into the world.  So here is another example of my “fictional philosophy.”

                                   *******


            During the third quarter of the Super Bowl, the legendary quarterback suffered a helmet to helmet injury that looked extremely severe.  The TV replays confirmed this; and everyone wondered whether he would be able to return to the game after the doctors examined him.  But the medical team determined that what looked like a possible major concussion was only minor.  So he was soon allowed to go back onto the field.  What happened next immediately became legendary.  And what happened after that became a societal earthquake.
            When the reporters searched for a way to describe the QB’s performance during the rest of the game, the word that kept appearing was “otherworldly.”  His passes and decisions and scrambles were so perfect that it seemed like his head injury had suddenly bequeathed him almost superhero powers of strength and vision.  He threw five touchdown passes in the second half and ran for another score while evading eight different tacklers.  His team won easily.
            Whereas most of the world goes on to other things after the Super Bowl ends, the QB’s brilliance had been so astonishing that hundreds of  millions of viewers stayed near their televisions so that they could watch the post-game press conference.  It far exceeded their expectations.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A MONK WITHOUT A GOD



 by Ray Jason         
   
            A black-crowned night heron was clinging to my anchor chain, searching the quiet sea for a fish.   As the sun eased its orange rim just above the horizon, the little bird looked up, and so did I.  This sunrise held exceptional promise because of the cloud formations scattered about.  There were immense walls of dense cumulus flanking a high ceiling of delicate cirrus.  When the sun fully emerged from the sea, it transformed the sky into a magnificent, amber cathedral.  Here was a radiant sanctuary worthy of Mother Ocean.
            Spellbound by this magnificent panorama, I found myself searching for the best word to describe it, and then it came to me – HOLY!  This led me to a rather startling revelation.  I suddenly realized that my life had evolved to the point where my little sailing ship had become a one-person, floating monastery.  I had become a seeker of the hallowed and enduring qualities that illuminate the human mystery.    
           

Thursday, May 12, 2016

WHERE THE BLUE MEETS THE BLUE



 by Ray Jason          

           Never before and never since – had I felt such an elemental connection to our wet and wondrous planet.  I was clinging to the top of AVENTURA’s mast, gazing at a panorama saturated in “blueness.”  The dark blue of the Sea undulated to the horizon where it mated with the delicate blue of the Sky.  It was like a “white-out” in a blizzard - but here in the Far Pacific it was a “blue-out.” 
            I had climbed the 18 steps up my mast in the hopes of finding a little wind somewhere on this immense stillness.  I was competing in the Single-handed Trans-Pacific Race from San Francisco to Hawaii, which means I was sailing alone.  And if ever there was an example of solitude, this was it.  Calculating my height above the water and the distance to the horizon, I realized that I could see about 200 square miles of ocean.  I was the only human in that vast blueness.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

SEA GYPSY NOCTURNE # 1



 by Ray Jason          

            In a far anchorage of the Archipelago of Bliss, the thick tropical night heat had glistened my little ship.  As I came on deck, I was delighted to find her shimmering with moon glow.  A single night bird was calling for a mate - or perhaps it was just saluting the almost unbearable beauty.
            I was carrying a pitcher of water to pour over myself with the hope of cooling down enough to go back to sleep.  After dousing myself, I stood on the bow and smiled - knowing that I was the only human in this silver-tinted lagoon.  The night bird fell silent.  Maybe it had never seen a naked man glistening and shimmering in the moonlight.    
            I sat down, and my dampness merged with the dewy deck.  Sleep no longer appealed to me.  This was one of those transcendent moments that only a fool or an empty person would fail to savor.  Such a night must have inspired the many immortal classical music geniuses who had composed “nocturnes.”  The idea of writing a philosophical nocturne suddenly intrigued me.  Ideally, it would be poetic and evocative and broad in its perspective – illuminating the grand sweep of the human horizon.       

                                           *******

Friday, April 15, 2016

A LITTLE HOPE FOR THE YOUNG AND THE LOST



by Ray Jason        

           Perhaps you awaken in the midnight stillness and find yourself lost in the labyrinth of an elusive but disturbing dream.  As consciousness returns, you realize that it is not a dream that is troubling you – it is the reality of your life.   You suddenly realize that the modern world is not providing you with joyous possibilities.  Instead, it is ensnaring you in a digital desert.
            You recognize that your 1,243 Facebook friends are actually 1,243 Falsebook strangers.  And you are forced to acknowledge that you hardly ever see your real friends - unless it is their image on a handheld screen.  You wonder why you feel so isolated and alienated and ALONE - in a world that is supposed to be so connected.

Friday, April 1, 2016

THE VOTING DELUSION



by Ray Jason         

         This November, I heartily encourage all Americans to exercise their civic duty by going to the polls and voting for one of the dignified Presidential candidates that have amazed us this election cycle with their wisdom and compassion.
          
          Got ya!  APRIL FOOLS DAY!!!
         
          Unfortunately, this is not a laughing matter.  A large segment of the U.S. population is now very aware of the fact that our political and economic systems have become totally corrupt.  And yet these knowledgeable people still cling to the delusion that this tragic state of affairs can be changed by voting.      
          Every once in a while I gently attempt to discuss this topic in “polite company.”  It is astonishing how ferociously these “polite” people defend the myth of the ballot box.  And so in this essay, I will strive to disabuse these well-meaning citizens from this idealistic concept, which has been relentlessly programmed into us since grammar school.  I assure you that I received the same brainwashing, and I once believed in the power and nobility of casting ballots.  And indeed, voting probably did “make a difference” at one time. 
But the world of power politics has changed drastically.  I contend that voting is not just meaningless in our present situation, but that it is actually harmful.  That is a pretty bold and provocative statement, but I will now do my best to defend this contrarian belief.  I will strive to do so in a concise but comprehensive manner.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

WHEN COWARDICE IS COURAGE


by Ray Jason

Some fictional philosophy...

 Dearest Sister,
          It happened on the fifth midnight raid.  It was on that mission that I “snapped.”  But that is definitely the wrong word.  Because what truly happened is that I finally “saw.”  My vision came into focus so suddenly and shockingly that it reminded me of lightning at night - instantly the flash reveals a startling landscape that only moments before had been stormy darkness.  But what suddenly came into view with brilliant luminosity was not “things” but an understanding of “how things work.”  It was an incandescent awakening that would change me irretrievably - and probably tragically.
            I am writing to you, dearest sister, because you alone amongst my friends had begged me so passionately to “just don’t go.”  Damn, do I now wish that I had heeded your wise counsel.  I was such a fool to enlist, but with the job market so grim and with the seductive way that they promote patriotism, I got suckered in.  Hell, these days the Superbowl is practically a glorified recruiting spectacle. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

THE SEA GYPSY TRIBE IDEALS



by Ray Jason          

          “Sailing away from it all” remains one of the most alluring fantasies in our modern world.  The idea of abandoning the misnamed “real world” and escaping to the South Seas on a sailing boat still intoxicates millions of people.  But it is not the fantasy of the sea gypsy life that entices me.  It is the reality of it.
            Far out on the Wide Waters, it is imperative to recognize things as they are rather than as you might wish them to be.  Delusions can swiftly become deadly.  The Sea has taught me this lesson so convincingly, that I now perceive it as part of my core being.  Fortunately, this lesson in caution has spilled over into my assessment of many other aspects of life.
            The result has been that I believe that grave prospects are looming just beyond the horizon for the Human Project.  But instead of just directing attention to these possible catastrophes, my mission has been to share my idea of a viable escape option for the disruptions ahead.  I call my plan The Sea Gypsy Tribe, and I discussed it thoroughly in my previous essay which is located about an inch below this one.

                                            *******

Thursday, February 18, 2016

THE SEA GYPSY TRIBE CONCEPT



by Ray Jason           

            A wise ocean sailor “hopes for the best but prepares for the worst.”  When far offshore - in what we call the Blue Water - there is no swift assistance readily available.  You have to be able to solve your own problems.  Spare parts, proper tools and practical skills will either save the day or sink the ship. 
            Weather awareness is also a critical component of success or failure when out on the Wide Waters.  In the olden days, a master mariner could predict storms long before they arrived, by watching the fall of the barometer and observing the sea and the sky.  Even hurricanes could be detected from hundreds of miles away by studying the size and intervals of the ocean swells.
            Several years ago, my sailor’s combination of self-reliance and situational awareness led me to formulate an unusual concept for dealing with the possibility of severe societal disruptions.  I call my plan The Sea Gypsy Tribe.  Through the years, I have refined this idea in both the “why to” aspects and in the “how to” details.  As I now observe the dangerous flux of economic and geopolitical disasters looming on the event horizon, it seems like an appropriate time to restate my plan for surviving potential catastrophes. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

PHILOSOPHICAL ACCEPTANCE



 by Ray Jason          

Robin was my friend.  I was his juggling teacher.
          As I sail deeper into my Middle Years, my ship of self seems to be entering the Sea of Paradox.  On the one hand, I am comfortable with the inescapable termination of my physical self.  But on the other hand, I am troubled by the possibility that my work – my little essays that strive to inform, awaken and inspire – will also vanish.  And I do not mean that they will disappear simply because they are not perceptive or poetic enough.  Instead, I am referring to a far more cataclysmic fate.  
           
                                                *******

However, before I elaborate on that dismal prospect, let me respond to the various readers who have inquired as to how I developed my particular writing style.  Many seem intrigued by my more “measured” approach to discourse in a Blogosphere that seems to be dominated by excessive ranting.
 Sometime long ago, I realized that even though screaming is part of any revolutionary crusade, it is preceded by a long period of whispering.  This convinced me that the quiet voices are also instrumental in shaping societal improvement.  I opted for that approach.  My goal is to sculpt essays that are provocative, powerful and poetic.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A MOST UNUSUAL SHIP

by Ray Jason
             Three magnificent Tall Ships sailed into the Archipelago of Bliss yesterday and anchored only 200 yards away from AVENTURA.  I consider the sailing ship humanity’s finest blend of form and function - or as I prefer to describe it – beauty and purpose.   So, seeing such majestic examples of this artistry had my heart astir.
Because the evening light was insufficient for my camera, I decided to row over early this morning to snap some photos.  But one ship had left just after dawn, and another had upped anchor and was headed out to sea as I comically attempted to catch her.  However, I was able to get this nice shot of the remaining beauty.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A SEA GYPSY HAIKU SAMPLER



by Ray Jason        

           
            It was a most unusual voyage.  I was sailing South in search of a world free of screens.  Still reeling from a month in El Norte, witnessing the tyranny of technology, I needed serenity.  I sought a peaceful lagoon, where people were not submissives - dominated by their TV screens, computer screens and Smart phone screens.
            When the anchor was down in one of my favorite hideaway coves, it felt like a great emancipation – a return to solitude and stillness.  Within a few hours I was absorbing the tranquility of the tiny bay.  I knew that I was truly being cured of the frenzy when the haiku began to flow.

                                           *******
           
This ancient form of Japanese poetry has appealed to me since my early days in college, when I was introduced to the great master of the form - Basho.  Basically, the poems are tiny snapshots of Nature.  But in their most exalted moments they speak to the sublime interface of the Human with the Natural.  They amplify the often uncelebrated aspects of the world around us that are elemental, commonplace and eternal.  And they do so with austere elegance.
The most standard form is three lines with the first and last comprised of five syllables and the middle line having seven syllables.  They should be immediate impressions of a real-time encounter with Nature.  They should not be abstract and intellectual.  They also require simplicity rather than ornamentation.  An old adage that expresses this perfectly is: “If the finger that is pointing towards the moon is bejeweled, that to which it is pointing will not be noticed.”

                                 *******

Monday, December 21, 2015

A PANTHEIST LOOKS AT CHRISTMAS



by Ray Jason           

            As soon as I finish this essay and send it out into the world to find its way, I will begin my own private Christmas celebration.  I will cast off the dock-lines, hoist the sails and head off to a little cove that will bequeath me the wondrous gift of Solitude.  My only companions will be the creatures of the Sea and the Sky and an occasional fisherman drifting by in a cayuco.
            What I will be seeking in this isolation is what has been lost in the current incarnation of Christmas – REVERENCE.  This holiday is supposed to pay homage to the birth date of the founder of Christianity.  But it has steadily deteriorated from a spiritual celebration into a materialistic, consumer frenzy.  It is not about Spirit.  It is about Stuff.       
            The object of my reverence will not be a god or a man-god or a man.  It will be Nature.  Whereas the existence of god cannot be proven, the existence of Nature cannot be denied.  My handsome little sailboat will be moving through it – through the waves of the Sea - powered by the wind from the Sky.  In a very real sense, my boat and I will be cradled by Nature. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

IT'S NOT JUST A MOVIE


by Ray Jason

Sometimes, when I am anchored alone in the far reaches of the Archipelago of Bliss, I will see a group of Indios gathered around a camp fire sharing stories as the twilight deepens into darkness.  Everything in such a scene is primal and elemental and authentic.  If there are children in the circle, I suspect that the adults are probably passing along their tribal story.  They are teaching the young their shared history and their common values. 
Because language was invented long before writing, the importance of oral story-telling was enormous in our early evolution as a species.  Stories DO MATTER – they are vital in our societal development.  And as humanity has progressed, so has the manner in which our stories are conveyed. 
Tribal campfire instruction was supplanted by medieval theatrical productions.  Shakespeare replaced the shaman.  But it wasn’t long before The Book diminished The Bard.  With the moveable-type printing press, far more people could have access to the shared wisdom accumulated during the human caravan.  In the 20th Century, the written word lost its pre-eminence due to the invention of movies and television.  These tools, that combined moving images with spoken words and music, were far more powerful than the story-telling systems that had preceded them.

                                 *******

Thursday, November 26, 2015

THE INVISIBLE FRENZY



by Ray Jason          

            It was a genuine “laugh until you cry” moment.  Two of my absolute favorite people and their son were sitting across from me in a plush Palo Alto restaurant.  Five minutes into our meal I looked across at them and was astounded.  Spontaneously, but quietly, I leaned towards them and said, “Good god, you eat like refugees!”  They laughed heartily and acknowledged that their lives are so dominated by the need to constantly hurry, that they barely notice how revved up they are.  
            This was my first contact with the phenomenon that I call “The Invisible Frenzy.”  I was a few days into a month long visit to San Francisco to enjoy the company of my wonderful friends there.  But I was already frazzled by the insane velocity with which they conduct their day to day activities.  Was it so unsettling because I had been transformed by the slo-mo pace of my life in the Archipelago of Bliss, or had the speed of urban living accelerated that much in the seven years since my last visit?  Probably, it was a combination of both factors.

Friday, October 30, 2015

WHAT I THINK I KNOW - TAKE TWO


by Ray Jason

Ray on his birthday 2015
As the years thunder by, I pleasantly discover that my needs and desires keep decreasing.  Health, Happiness, Friendship and Freedom are now the cardinal points on the compass of my life’s voyage.   Because today is my birthday, it is natural to ponder whether my Ship of Self is sailing smoothly; or whether it is struggling through troubled waters.  Fortunately, the year astern of me has been splendid, and the days ahead look promising.
For me, one of the joys and challenges of each birthday is to revisit my core knowledge of the world.  Being blessed with the philosopher’s curse of needing to understand the mystery of human existence, I use this annual milestone to reconsider “what I think I know.”  My approach this year will be to focus on the multitude of infants who will be born today and thus share the same birth date as mine.  What awaits them…???     

                                    *******

Thursday, October 15, 2015

THE DIRE NEED FOR REFUSAL



by Ray Jason          

          One of the many reasons that I linger here in the Banana Latitudes is because the local people still have backbones.  Or to use a more creative description that a friend of mine favors – they have not yet been “sheepified.” 
First of all, they demand that the government do things to actually help the real people and not just the rich people.  For example, there are free clinics for pregnant women and there are local market days where food is available from farm co-ops at reduced prices due to subsidies.  Yes, the Third World is so backward that they haven’t yet figured out that you are supposed to subsidize rich, BigAg campaign donors and not the people in the pueblo.
And secondly, if the authorities initiate policies that are harmful to local interests, the people make their displeasure very apparent.  They start with acceptable procedures by going up the normal chain of command.  But if these fail, they engage in “direct action.”  And they do not waste their fervor and time on Lame Lefty symbolic gestures.  They do not stand beside a bridge with placards.  They shut the frigging bridge down with their bodies.  And, if a telecom giant jacks the phone rates up obscenely, it will suddenly discover that its transmission lines have been severed.
I have been directly inconvenienced by these monkey wrench gang tactics, but their bold and courageous fortitude both amuses and comforts me.  However, most of the other expats are horrified by such “radicalism.”  They are outraged that they have to go without internet for 18 hours.  But wasn’t part of the motivation for abandoning the First World, to escape a frenzied culture so driven by schedules and deadlines?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A NICE SGP BOOK REVIEW

Hello Everyone,

I hope you are all doing well.

Here is a very positive and thoughtful review of The Sea Gypsy Philosopher, which was recently posted at the excellent website called Resilience.  The author, Frank Kaminski, was very thorough and appreciative.  Thank you, Frank.

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2015-10-07/review-the-sea-gypsy-philosopher-by-ray-jason

My book remains very reasonably priced at Amazon in the paper version.  However, there is some difficulty with the Kindle edition, therefore it is not available at the moment.  If you click on the book cover just to your right, you will be linked instantly to the Amazon page.

Be well, everyone!

Ray

Thursday, October 1, 2015

YOU CAN HAVE THE POPE - I'LL TAKE THE PEACE PILGRIM!



by Ray Jason        

         She walks alone and unnoticed down one of America’s scenic but barely-traveled highways.  Like any true pilgrim, she is penniless and her only possessions are the clothes on her back.  But she also carries precious cargo with her – the message of Peace.  For 28 years she quietly delivered her little peace talks wherever people were willing to listen.  She was The Peace Pilgrim.
            He arrives in a motorcade led by a phalanx of motorcycle cops and surrounded by his massive security force.  Overhead, helicopters record his every move and gesture.  Each stop during his visit is meticulously scripted by his handlers – including the incidents that initially seemed spontaneous.  He is accompanied by an entourage of 170 people.  He is The Pope. 
           
         Now you tell me which one of these people is HOLY!  Which one most faithfully represents the spirit of Jesus? 

                                               *******

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

THE MACHINE IS NOT YOUR FRIEND!


by Ray Jason



The sailor within me was concerned.  But the poet within me was delighted.  This was no ordinary squall that was approaching from the north.  It was so gray and dark and menacing that it looked like molten lead as it churned across the bay towards me.  So I slipped behind a small mangrove island where I dropped my sails and set the anchor. 
As I was finishing that task, the deluge descended.  A burst of wind tipped AVENTURA over to starboard.  It also toppled me gently down onto the cabin top.  I laughed as I wondered whether the deepening voyage into my Middle Years was beginning to compromise my balance. 
When I began to lift myself up to go below and retreat from the rain, a primal voice from across the centuries prompted me stay where I was.  So I closed my eyes while lying on my back and let the warm equatorial downpour saturate me.  Within a couple of minutes the rain softened - and I felt an almost blissful contentment as I let it wash over me. 
I was not experiencing any deep philosophical insights, but there was a vague sense that if I remained there something might be revealed to me.  And a few minutes later this is precisely what occurred, but much differently from what I might have expected. 
Suddenly, I noticed that there was another person 15 yards away.   An Indio fisherman had silently rowed his cayuco nearby and was grinning over at me.  My ”laughing in the rain” behavior was very different from what he had witnessed with most gringos.  He paddled closer and quietly asked me if I was okay.  I sheepishly replied that I was fine.  Then we both smiled and he turned back to his quest for dinner.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A MESSAGE FROM THE SIXTH SIGNAL TOWER



by Ray Jason            

            When the bus unloaded us at the Great Wall of China, our tour guide and her flock headed off in one direction, while I snuck off on my own.  Such behavior was symbolic of my life in general.  To escape the herd and transcend the humdrum has been a constant theme on my meandering Path.  That contrary to ordinary behavior rewarded me splendidly on that day, and it has continued to do so down the decades.    
            We had been instructed to “stay with our guide” who would mother hen us along the acceptable route over the rebuilt part of the wall.  But that beautifully restored section held little allure for me.  What sang to my wandering heart was the massive serpentine rubble that undulated across the hilltops and off into the misty distance.
           

Thursday, August 20, 2015

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO RIGHT?



by Ray Jason           

           One of the great joys of my sea gypsy life is the ease with which I can alternate between solitude and camaraderie.  Scattered about the Archipelago of Bliss are many friends living on the shore or on their own islands.  They often invite me to come and anchor near their home and hang out for a few days.  I frequently do so.  These are always delightful interludes.
            But when the lonesome call of contemplation beckons me, there are many empty lagoons where I can linger alone.  There, my only companions are the creatures of the sea and the sky and my books and my thoughts.  But occasionally I will be joined by another sailing boat that is – how can I say this – different.  Most people would describe them as “outlaw boats,” but I consider them “emancipated boats.” 
            These are sailors who do not bother to check in with the authorities, but who wander the Wide Waters as sea vagabonds without a country.  I can easily ascertain this by making an offhand remark about how easy and inexpensive it is to clear into this particular country.  If they agree with that assessment, I know that they have not actually checked in, because it is neither easy nor inexpensive to do so here.  Then I will make another casual remark about the “unfettered freedom of the cruising life.”  Usually, at this point our eyes will lock and they will know that I know.
           
                                          *******

Saturday, August 8, 2015

THE ARCHIPELAGO OF BLISS



by Ray Jason


            It’s early morning down here in the Banana Latitudes, and I am savoring the languor of the Tropics.  Sitting in the shade, with my back against the mast, I notice a small cayuco emerge from a nearby creek and steer directly towards me. Suddenly it feels like I have been swept back to the era of Captain Cook when the natives would row out to the visiting ships to trade with the sailors.   
            However, this local trader turns out to be a seven year old boy - with a cargo of coconuts and chickens.  I happily purchase four green “drinking nuts.”  When he offers me a fine hen, I pantomime what a hilarious ordeal it would be for me to control an unhappy chicken aboard a small sailing boat.  He laughs vigorously, flashing beautiful white teeth undamaged by sugar and civilization.  It pleases me to know that when he returns from school later today he will not vicariously butcher hundreds of “bad guys” on some video game screen.  Instead, he will fish for supper with some line coiled around a stick.
          

Thursday, July 23, 2015

THE CODE OF THE SEA GYPSY TRIBE

by Ray Jason


This is the conclusion of my short trilogy dealing with the Sea Gypsy Tribe in a post-Apocalyptic scenario.  In order to understand it, I would encourage you to take a few minutes and read my two prior installments entitled The Stranger Arrives and The Shattering.  Just scroll down the page and they await you.



                                              ******* 

           

Hello again, Stranger.  Our medical volunteers have informed me that yesterday, for the first time since your arrival, you were able to speak.  That delighted our tribe immensely.  However, we were even more pleased to learn that the first words that you uttered were “Thank you.” 

I was also told that your efforts to communicate seemed very painful.  So the medical staff asked me to discourage you from trying to speak until the wound below your jaw has healed more completely.  As for your efforts to write with that broken right hand of yours, we again urge you to be patient.  However, your attempts with your left hand have brought considerable amusement to all of us.  One nurse describes your scribbling as a cross between Japanese and Thai with a slight hint of Brooklyn.        



                                   *******

Friday, July 10, 2015

THE SHATTERING

by Ray Jason


This is a continuation of my fictional depiction of one possible Collapse scenario.  If you have not read my previous essay, “The Stranger Arrives,” this new one will not make much sense to you.  So it would be best if you scroll down and spend a few minutes with that piece.



                                      *******

During what our tribe calls The Descent, the initial problem was economic. But it soon became societal.  The threads of decency and compassion that normally hold the human tapestry together, disintegrated with astonishing swiftness.  In the USA, the entire population was more or less under house arrest.  The government tried curfews and martial law and gun confiscation, but they did not end the violence, they intensified it.
At this stage the trauma was limited to the United States.  It was not global.  So the big question for those who made it through the catastrophe is: How did it go from an economic and societal unraveling in one country to a global nuclear incineration?  How did The Descent become The Shattering? 

Monday, June 29, 2015

THE STRANGER ARRIVES

by Ray Jason


Welcome, Stranger!  We are the Pelican/Slocum Sea Gypsy Tribe.  I am currently our Spokesperson – a position that rotates regularly in our clan. 
Congratulations on surviving The Descent and the Shattering.  While you are regaining your strength, we will provide you food, water, shelter, medicine and perhaps most importantly - emotional comfort and reinforcement.  Your injuries are severe, particularly the wound beneath your jawbone, so please do not attempt to speak.     
When you have sufficiently recovered, we will tell you Our Story.  Then later we will describe Our Code.  If you wish to join us, there will be a probationary period during which we will evaluate your compatibility with our tribe.  Then we will convene a Council of Deciding and share our assessment with you.  If your skills and conduct seem valuable to our clan, we will happily accept you amongst us.  Should we, or you, choose otherwise then we will give you a supply of food and water as you commence again your wanderings as an Earthugee.    

                                     *******

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A VERY DIFFERENT SUMMER READING LIST

by Ray Jason

            I refer to it jokingly as “THE QUESTION.”   It used to bother me, but now it just amuses me.  Usually, it is phrased like this, “Ray, how did you get this way?”  My standard playful response is, “Are you referring to what great physical shape I am in considering my age?”  This catches them off guard, but then they continue.  “No, I mean how did you get all of these … odd … and … radical … ideas?”  If I am feeling mischievous, I might reply, “Well, my parents were professors at Berkeley in the ‘Marxism for the Masses’ department.”

            Actually, my parents were not to blame, although my Mom would certainly applaud my determination to look at life as openly as possible.  So perhaps she was an accessory to the crime.  College was not the guilty party either.  I did have a few inspirational professors, but mostly Higher Education could just as accurately be called Higher Indoctrination.  No, the guilty party was - and is - BOOKS!
            But not just any books.  I’m talking about provocative books that seem to shout from the pages, “I bet you were not aware of this?!”  Books that shake your brain like a washing machine on the “agitate” setting, until the neurons are rearranged.  Books that reveal the beauty and majesty of life, but that also expose the ugliness and injustice.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

LIFE - THE WONDER AND THE SADNESS

by Ray Jason





            Peer into this child’s eyes at your own risk.  They have haunted me for 18 months.  Every few weeks I look at this poignant image and try to decipher the message that those enormous brown eyes are sending to me - and to you - and to the world.
            I found this photo at Google Images and used it to accompany my final essay of 2013.  It is of a little gypsy girl in Romania who has just received a Christmas present from an aid worker.  It leapt out at me even though there were hundreds of other pictures.  Why did this particular one tunnel into my heart of hearts and speak to me so powerfully? 
  I have pondered this at least 20 times during the ensuing months.  But before sharing my conclusions with you, I would like you to pause for a few minutes and study this young girl.  I’d even suggest that you left click on the photo to enlarge it.  Now, what is she saying to you personally with those focused eyes and that enigmatic smile?

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