Monday, October 3, 2011

Expectations Great and Small

'Our expectations help us see but they also blind us to what we don't expect.'   - Ellen Langer, On Becoming an Artist

There is a saying about not seeing the forest for the trees.  Most often, we do see the forest.  It is the individual trees which become lumped together to form the whole.  If asked to draw the forest, the trees are reduced to a random uniformity of what we perceive trees look like.  Stick-like trunks rise from the surface of the ground and leaves form a canopy on top.  They blend together to form the 'forest'.  Their depth and breadth can become lost in the interpretation.

While skimming across the harbor on the schooner on Saturday, we expected to see unrelieved clouds.  After all, it was a gray, rainy day. 

By accepting this, we formed certain expectations of how the sail would go and that we would have to forgo sparkling waters and deep shadows.  On this day, the edges of buildings onshore were blurred.  The gray sky rendered the water in a charcoal blackness.  The only lightness came from the turn of the waves in our wake.

We expected it to look this way but nature has its own mind about things and creates drama where there is none - if our minds are open to the possibilities around us.  Tumbling fog softened the shoreline and obscured the details of homes and inlets.  Suddenly, we were aware of warmth on our backs and a sparkling motion in the water close to shore.  Just overhead, a hole of blue spread open the clouds changing everything. The opening was brief but lasted long enough for everything to shift.  At one point, when we sailed under the edge of the grayness above, the sea was split in two with murky grayness to port and sparkling blue waters to starboard.  A distinct line formed in the water separating the colors.  Just like that, my perception of the sky and sea changed forever.

A Proper Send Off - Jay Albert, Cape Ann Images
The sail culminated with a memorial for Joe Garland who passed away just shy of his 89th birthday last week.  He was a beloved Gloucester persona, a timeless friend and historian of all things fishing and all things Gloucester.  We sailed into the harbor to gather with other fishing boats and schooners waiting to pay their respects.  When Zack lit the cannon, a cacophony of booms, horns, whistles and shouts filled the air sending hundreds of seagulls up into the skies in spiralling tornadoes of motion.  A proper send off and a memorable sail once again on the Thomas E. Lannon.

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