I haven’t written here since I “finished” my novel. I added quotation marks because it isn’t finished until the publisher says it’s too late to change anything, but a few weeks ago I reached the point where I couldn’t see how to make it any better. That is what I guess any writer would recognize as “temporary finishing,” although already I am tinkering again.
That tinkering is taking place only in my head. I left a few days ago on a cruise assignment in Alaska on Seabourn Odyssey, and as always happens, being on a ship is such a radical departure from the rhythms and requirements of life ashore that I no longer even pretend I will get anything done except what is expected of me (nailing the talks, socializing with guests, and that’s about it).
Yesterday I opened the file for my novel, just to make sure I brought the most current one. I stared at the words and it was like being on the outside looking at a foreign world. I shut it without reading even a page.
I am not sure I ever went directly to a cruise after finishing such a momentous undertaking as a novel, although the prep for talks is quite a bit of work every time. I guess for that reason I should have expected to be in a bit of a daze. Add to that the fact that this is familiar territory not just from past cruises but from my life on Vancouver Island. A cruise usually is a journey into the new and different, but here it feels more like a continuation, a new vantage point from the water of familiar landscapes of rocky shores and timbered slopes. Nothing ho hum about it, to be sure, but a little different from waking up in Barcelona or Singapore, where one is jolted into recognition that this is definitely not home and energized by the desire to go do something about it.
We are anchored briefly this morning in a secluded coastal area so that guests can go off kayaking and exploring by zodiac (photo of them returning below) before we move on to our next port. It is a surprisingly warm and blessedly sunny day, and I have been sitting outside with just a light sweater and shell jacket feeling a pleasant nip on my face that reminds me we are coming into fall. The water is calm and teal colored except where the wisps of breeze turn it sparkling silver. Seals are cavorting off the stern and seabirds are circling to see what the fishing excitement might be. Zodiacs are coming and going, happy voices carrying across the water.
About an hour ago a pair of humpback whales showed up very near the ship. They are, of course, one of the things the guests have traveled this far to see, and that many have hopped onto little excursion boats to go out to find. And there they were! The slick, grey backs arched as the sound of their huge white exhalations reverberated across the water, with majestic Mount St Elias in the background. You
can see a little of the back of one whale in the photo below, but mostly I just watched rather than thinking i needed to document.
I took deep cleansing breaths along with them, and it seemed as if I was exhaling for the first time in months. Letting everything go. Returning from the fog into a clear and pristine present. I can just breathe again for a while, just be, and it feels wonderful.