This is day two at sea; I remain clamped to my pillow like a brittle mollusk to a slippery rock. Poor me… But behold, I will be rewarded the next day. Oh that next day, what a day it will be. Why haven’t I done this – earlier in life? There is a bit of frustration coming up when I think about the very young travelers around me. It feels like I threw ten years away in a big rusty recycle bin. Sure, I did something in those years, I lived I loved I learned, but something is missing. It’s my job to find out what.
I am headed to a magnificent Caribbean Archipelago and the subject I plan to write about is Frustration. Why? Am I out of my mind? Don’t I care about my readers? Don’t they deserve some unabridged account of absolute Happiness, which I surely experience on the islands? And don’t they deserve some kind of storyline, some kind of development, with a distinguishable beginning and a firm end? Yes, they do. And I’m sorry I can’t deliver at this time. You will have to construct your own progressive interpretation of these pages. And if you can, I might be interested in it – I’d love to hear which progress I made during my travels. Has this ever been done? Oh yes, without doubt. It has been done in the wake of any major economic depression. It’s pointless, the words drip along those lines like thick black oil, staining together toxic sentences, sticky and spoiling the feathers of life that is supposed some day to blossom. Nose-down dive to zero-Kelvin but no anchoring is possible there, we are floating freely on indiscernible inky fluids where up is down and oxygen levels are low, lips color deep rotten cherry purple when they try to yell ‘mama’ but it only intensifies the texture of the capillaries like a pre-war Picasso hump hump shout and thou shalt not be heard hump hump we float through blackness now bundles of a hundred umbilical cords are gently waving like grey seaweed saddening, they give us none orientation no more hump hump –
The book I read during the sailing trip is the 2006 bestseller by Elisabeth Gilbert “Eat, pray, Love” about her journey to Italy, India, Indonesia. She is a divorcee in her mid-thirties when she leaves her well-paid journalist job and embarks on a three times four months world trip. First, she experiences pleasure in Italy, roaming that beautiful country for the best pasta and pizza it has to offer (she ends up in Napoli and Sicily). Then she goes to an Ashram in India where she meditates with a guru among a group of other westerners with the desire to slow down a couple of gears. Finally she combines the two in Bali, where she rediscovers love with a fifty-two year old Brazilian businessman. The book is unmistakenly addressed to women. Reading it as a man can be hilarious at times though, when the author gives dating tips for instance. But it’s an interesting experience. Do my female readers feel like this when I write about curves and the like (do I?) Perhaps that read inspires me do something similar myself, I mean write about the Pursuit of happiness. Since I lack the discipline and the believe to make an entire book at this moment, I just present a short pamphlet here. Print it out and put it under your pillow before you go to bed.
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The Path to Enlightenment, or how to overcome Frustration.
Welcome to these instructions to become happy. You should read
them very carefully and memorize the steps that will lead to
your individual salvation. The instructions won’t do that for
you. You are the one in charge of everything. It depends on you
if you will succeed or not. I can only give you any guarantee.
That said, I present to you the basic rules that will guide you
on your very personal Path to Enlightenment.
Step one. Your life has two parts. Everything until today, and
the future. Think of everything until today, and say to yourself
that is has been utterly meaninglesss, that all occurred for no
special reason, that you built up exactly nothing. Your studies,
the degree with honors, your succesful career – all meaningless.
Your bank account, your assets, stocks, stockings, bonds, blondes
– all hollow. All the knowledge you have accumulated, all the power
that rests in your hands – gimcrack. You have wasted all your time.
Step two. Consider your future as pure possibility. You might want
to read Robert Musil. Meditate. Whenever you get some sense of
progress, as if your past accomplishments garantuee your future
success and pave your future path – do strictly deny it. Arrive at
the absolute Present. Local time at destination: zero hours.
Step three. You will feel a proud sense of progress emerging in your
mind, despite all your efforts. You are heading towards the Nirvana,
the absolute Nothingness. You are building up quite some capital here.
Now please realize that also this is meaningless. You might feel dizzy
now. Take a deep breath.
Step four. Compare yourself with anybody and everybody you can find.
They have been more successful? They have gathered more wealth than you?
After all you’ve been through (steps 1 to 3, you must repeat them as often
as necessary) you can laugh about it. They have already done things you
never even dared to dream about? They have earned big bucks, their books
got published, their paintings exhibited, their skins caressed – what do
they know about step 1 to 3. Hah! We ain’t afraid of them. We’re in a
different league now. We’re so magnificently enlightened, we are the very
essence of the Universe, touching Being with our fingertips and Nothingness
with our cramped toes. We are untouchable. Beyond frustration. Beyond comparison.
Step four-and-a-half. Homework: write your own Hilarious Enlightenment Spoof.
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Sorry. I was somewhat feverish at open sea. Had to spit out my mental guts to get rid of them. I want to sail towards paradise with a pure mind, not polluted by any morbid meditation induced by my little Self. And it works! I can leave them behind me. I can quit the struggle for Enlightenment now; I can wake up from its very slumber, and voici an inherent critique of the great German philosopher Kant, who defines the labor of reason uniquely as lifting the veil. If we must use his metaphor, let us imagine a veil steadily undulating in front of our face, going up and down with the rhythm of time and allowing us only a periodic view of Truth.
All the crippled thoughts are proved completely irrelevant by the magnificent sea mammals that we are about to see. Dolphins! Not just a few, a whole school of dolphins follows the Koala leisurely and plays in the current of its bow.
“Only on Sailing Koala dot com!” our captain proclaims proudly.
It is amazing to see those lean shiny dolphin bodies zoom through the water, easily keeping up with our sailing boat that goes no more than five knots. We are all very excited. Hsu, our Taiwanese photographer, does a really good job taking pictures of the dolphins. I forget about my seasickness and gaze at the darting lubricious fins on the water surface. A little while later, we also spot a whale. A whale! A real humpback whale at several hundred meters from our vessel, too far to give a Melvillian account, near enough to enchant all of us.
“Only on Sailing Koala dot com!” our captain repeats with visible satisfaction.