The other day I had a phone call from Chiles biggest daily newspaper, El Mercurio from a really qualified reporter with profound questions. Since my Spanish visit, I have received hundreds of emails and requests from the Spanish speaking part of the world and I like their questions, their passion and analysis of life far better than in my part of the world. Three of the questions I received from Sebastian, the Chilean journalist was:
Are you the last romantic? Does any truly challenging Expeditions still exist? Have you found the meaning of life?
At the same second I was talking to him, this poem arrived, sent from my very good friend Tom Sjögren. As much a philosopher of life as an explorer. It answered all his questions. And it could well be me in a nutshell.
To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm
foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise you are doomed to a routine
traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen, who play with their boats at
sea–“cruising”, it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the
wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are
contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until
your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about.
Little has been said or written about the ways a man may blast himself free.
Why? I don’t know, unless the answer lies in our diseased values. A man
seldom hesitates to describe his work; he gladly divulges the privacies of
alleged sexual conquests. But ask him how much he has in the bank and he
recoils into a shocked and stubborn silence.
“I’ve always wanted to sail to the South Seas, but I can’t afford it.” What
these men can’t afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous
discipline of “security”. And in the worship of security we fling our lives
beneath the wheels of routine—and before we know it our lives are gone.
What does a man need—really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and
shelter, six feet to lie down in—and some form of working activity that
will yield a sense of accomplishment. That’s all—in the material sense.
And we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end
up beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry,
playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in
dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed.
Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of
purse or bankruptcy of life?