Visiting Utopia

Franz Matsch - Triumph of Achilles
Franz Matsch – Triumph of Achilles

Recently Kate and I had a meeting about our finances and cruising budget. The atmosphere in the room was tense, almost as we were on the board of a financial firm who is deciding about their future in a shifting market. The tone of voice was high and the opinions divergent.  When you don’t have a fixed income or personal wealth and you dream about a life afloat it’s no joke. We not only have to figure out the way to make it through the everyday expenses, we have also to plan the future with variable and not predictable income.

Since we are stuck in the mud with bills to pay and things to figure out we feel that the original idea is becoming almost an impossible quest. Even when you have determination, the path is hard and steep, the courage itself doesn’t guarantee your success. Will we be able to resume our trip? What does it take to get financially untangled and self sustained? Will we be able to defeat the Forces of Evil? Of course we will.

We are still in a very priviledge position, we have the luck of being educated, with an ever growing network of good people around us and we are constantly on a learning curve, exposed to interesting situation and people. The only fact that we are contemplating the idea of spending some time cruising puts us among the very few fortunate people on this planet. It may sound silly that this is our biggest challenge, while other people face more dramatic and difficult situations. But still this is our Dragon, our Big Bad Wolf, the challenge we decided to face.

I love adventurers, people that risk their life to achieve impossible dreams. When I follow the sailors of the Volvo Ocean Race I am fully excited by the extreme conditions they face. When I read Moitessier’s and other singlehanded sailors’ recounts I feel the majesty and intensity of their experience. Their toughness is an inspiration. It’s a big boost of tension toward the everyday hassles of life, the fuel to propel us over the obstacles that sit in front of our goals. The danger and harshness of their adventures transcend their particular case becoming an ideal situation people can identify with.

That’s the reason why epic is important in our life. When  intellectual and critical thinking, rational intelligence and aesthetic are not enough, the primeval power of epic is what it takes to shake our soul and squeeze energy out of ourselves. We look at heroes from the bottom to the top, sometimes to distract us from the boring miseries of our existence, sometimes as a way to quench our thirst of energy to keep fighting our demons and enemies. Aim high to hit the target.

These utopias act as a beacon that leads to an unhabited island, where gods and demigods live, where the impossible becomes the norm. The Nobel Prize Wislawa Szymborska told us about this perfect place in one of her most celebrated poems. The island she depicts is ofted visited by humans, but none of them can stay. They all have to go back to the depths, where life happens.

 UTOPIA by Wislawa Szymborska

Island where all becomes clear.

Solid ground beneath your feet.

The only roads are those that offer access.

Bushes bend beneath the weight of proofs.

The Tree of Valid Supposition grows here
with branches disentangled since time immemorial.

The Tree of Understanding, dazzlingly straight and simple,
sprouts by the spring called Now I Get It.

The thicker the woods, the vaster the vista:
the Valley of Obviously.

If any doubts arise, the wind dispels them instantly.

Echoes stir unsummoned
and eagerly explain all the secrets of the worlds.

On the right a cave where Meaning lies.

On the left the Lake of Deep Conviction.
Truth breaks from the bottom and bobs to the surface.

Unshakable Confidence towers over the valley.
Its peak offers an excellent view of the Essence of Things.

For all its charms, the island is uninhabited,
and the faint footprints scattered on its beaches
turn without exception to the sea.

As if all you can do here is leave
and plunge, never to return, into the depths.

Into unfathomable life.

6 thoughts on “Visiting Utopia”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *