What I try to do on this blog is describe the indescribable. I try and recreate moments and situations which, to the vast majority of my readers, are totally alien. Because I want other people to experience the wonder. Mostly I think I manage with a moderate degree of success.
I’ve just spent eleven days sailing through the Whitsunday’s on the STS Young Endeavour with twenty-four other young people. I’ve described a lot of experiences.
Its not usually this hard.
We experienced great victories and small disasters. We laughed, we cried, we changed our lives. That ship was what great quotes are made of. It was the kind of place where clichés still have genuine meaning. It was the stuff that lives are made of. It was…a word that hasn’t been invented yet.
On the first night we climbed the mast. That’s 35 metres. AKA- very, very high. Of course you’re harnessed on. That’s a bit of rope and a weird metal thing standing between you and an impossible drop onto a solid wooden deck. It was a weird kind of fear. A primeval, subconscious physical kind of fear. Dangling high above a swaying ocean, clinging for dear life to the most solid thing I could find, my whole body was gripped by intense, uncontrollable panic. Put it this way- if this was 1880, I’d be dead.
Less than three days later I found myself standing on the lower top, hair blowing behind me in the wind. I watched the sun set over a pristine deserted island. In that moment I felt like Jim Hawkins. I felt like I could do anything.
And we did all kinds of anything. My watch came on deck at midnight on command day. The ship was going backward. We’d just turned a full 360 degrees. There were seven of us on watch. In an hour we had the ship going at six and a half knots in the right direction. That’s seven young people. No crew. Nothing. We did it all ourselves. And that kind of impossible feels pretty good.
On the first day we were total strangers. But real life doesn’t matter in a place like that. Singing songs together at 3AM doesn’t usually happen til fairly late in the friendship process. Extreme conditions bring out the best in people. You skip a lot of stages. On the last day we clung to each other for longer than should have felt normal. Because hugs are better than handshakes. And letting go was really, really hard.
The simple fact is that there are people reading this who know exactly what I’m trying to say. They’re the people who were there. I hate that I can’t express to the rest of you a mere fraction of what we saw. There’s really only one thing I can say- if you’re between 16 and 23, fill in this form. Make time in your life. Experience it for yourself.
It will blow your mind.
PS- Speaking of things that will blow your mind. I met Phill on the boat. I made him start a blog. This is it. Its incredible. Read it. Seriously.