Saturday, 14 January 2017

Saturdays

Saturday morning, 7th January 2017.  I´m at anchor in Puerto Ingles, a small lagoon at the northern end of Isla de Chiloe, now as quiet as a millpond, sun shining, birds crying, a seal playing in the water, two dogs running along the shoreline. I arrived yesterday morning in Chile after 19 days at sea from Easter Island looking for shelter ahead of an overnight storm.  It´s an excellent anchorage. 

Saturday morning.  A feeling I remember well from the days when I worked in a regular job, waking in the morning light with energy and anticipation.  Sometimes there was a glow from some achievement in the work week … a breakthrough on a project, a milestone achieved, a promotion gained, a political battle won, a contract signed - as often as not, something as insubstantial as a change in a number in a spreadsheet.
Saturday morning.  Most of all the feeling was one of precious freedom.  I could do anything I wanted on Saturday, could truly be myself, with the sure knowledge that the following day, Sunday, I didn’t have to put on the mask of management consultant or corporate manager.  I could live fully on Saturdays – take myself to that liminal space where sleep is a necessity rather than a duty.  A hard ski ascent, thighs burning, smiling so much that my cheeks ache, body caressed by sunburn and sweat and endorphins.  The calm of the last kilometres of a long run, in a trance from the drumbeat of feet connecting with earth, wondering if my iPod battery will last till I get to the end.  Diving deeply into a novel or an essay or a poem or a travel story and not needing to stop.  The intensity of the last hours before dinner party guests arrive, focused on cooking and setting the table and selecting music and tidying up and setting the mood with lights and preparing drinks and polishing glasses and anticipating conversation and smiling and … everything!
        "Why do I climb for hours for a handful of turns in untracked snow? Why do I grin and dance
          afterward?  Why is fun such an anemic answer to the questions above?  Powder snow skiing
          is not fun.  It´s life, fully lived, lived in a blaze of reality."  -  Dolores LaChapelle
Csikszentmihalyi called this Flow, Sartre described it as being engaged with life … whatever words one employs, and this is right at the edge of language, for me it is that feeling of being, not consciously being with that little commentator in your head describing it, but rather being as a state, without a separate awareness of the state.  Being completely in the moment, completely in the flow.  Saturdays.
          "The more you consume, the less you live" - Guy Debord
It´s an indictment of our western model that Saturdays are, for many, the only day of the week when this is possible.  From his perch in Soho in the mid 19th century Marx foresaw a key consequence of capitalism – alienation from life – and refused to lie still and accept it.  Have we progressed in the 150 years since he was writing?  Yes, a little – we do have that one precious day out of seven, although for 1.9 billion people on the planet existing on less than $2 a day Saturday effectively doesn´t exist.  Being, Saturday morning, is, for the most part, a western privilege.
 

And living on a sailboat, where it feels to me that Saturday mornings are much more frequent, where floating at anchor and sharing the beauty of Patagonia with interesting companions is what life will consist of for months ahead … what does that say about my privilege?   I sometimes feel a need to justify it by explaining that living on a sailboat involves a lot of work, a relic of my upbringing in a western society.  But doesn’t such an explanation reinforce the very model that leads to work dominating life?
Ah, perhaps there´s no escape from the circular logic.  It´s enough to make you want to run off with a sailboat to Patagonia …

2 comments:

Bonnie Ballantyne said...

Looking out the window as the snow softly enrobes my world in blanket of white. As soon as I can get some breakfast into him, Kelso is off to catch an early run on this magical powder day. Yes, we too, are privileged to live a life of travel, exploration and exhilaration but after more than 40 years working for the "man", skiing on a Monday feels well earned.

Graham Garvin said...

What a post. I am restless for weeks filled with Saturdays. Restless for a life not dominated by work but instead by the freedom and boundless uncertainty of a travelers journey. Soon, very soon...