March 15th-ish to Present
Disclaimer: This post goes a bit political. We generally try to keep religion and politics off our blog, but at this time in our collective lives, politics cannot be ignored. If you’re interested, read on, but if the airing of political opinions by someone other than yourself makes you queasy, click away from this page sooner than later.
Honestly, the title of this post should be, “First Mate Bares Her Soul.” So, here goes. I’m going to start with the following definition:
spe·cies – noun | spēsēz, spēSHēz
In biology, a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding. The species is the principal natural taxonomic unit, ranking below a genus and denoted by a Latin binomial, e.g., Homo sapiens.
Please remember this definition.
Since departing Zihuatanejo and the global COVID-19 pandemic descended upon the planet back in mid-March, we’ve been living a life of conflicting emotions and a perennial knot of uncertainty in our bellies. We are one month short of our 4-year anniversary of leaving the U.S., and we are firmly ensconced in one of the most picturesque desert settings, enjoying dreamy sailing, solitude, and, occasionally, scorching heat. Texting with a girlfriend recently, both of us were lamenting the sense of feeling stuck in our respective geographic locations (she in French Polynesia and me in Mexico) because of border restrictions and/or simply not wanting to travel because of the risk associated with moving through airports and coming into contact with a gazillion other people (read: potential COVID vectors). At the same time, we both acknowledged how incredibly lucky we are to be in these places – you could call them paradise – safely isolated from the raging virus (and anti-maskers), where the waters are blue and warm and inviting. But the internal push and pull is intense. I SO want to go home, and yet, I SO don’t want to go home. I miss my family and BFFs so much it hurts, but do I miss them enough to risk everyone’s health, including my own, by traveling? The answer remains unclear.
The most frequently asked question we get is, “what’s your plan?” Our response is never the same, but almost always begins with, “good question.” Our official non-plan has changed so many times, we’ve lost count. Let’s take da boat home or to the Pacific Northwest. No, let’s go south to Central America. No, let’s go north. No, let’s stay in Mexico. No, let’s go do the Great Loop and layover in Michigan for a while. No, let’s leave da boat wherever, and go wherever. No…no…no… I’ve lost sleep, lots of sleep. But not only because of the COVID situation, but because of the unstable political, social, and environmental circumstances facing the vast majority of the world’s populations and our Mother Earth. I find the state of things so unsettling that despite where we are and the fact that I’m with the love of my life everyday (and he cooks for me), I’m riddled with uncertainty and a perpetual lack of mental clarity.
To be honest, I’ve never been a good sleeper. I experienced insomnia that brought me to tears in college, and lately I feel like that insomnia is creeping back in. Whether it be because of the unforgiving heat; the fierce, hot westerlies that sometimes blow all night; reading too much news; feeling overly isolated and lonely; feeling extreme anxiety over the COVID situation and global climate change; worrying about my family and friends, some of whom seem to be living life as if there’s no pandemic; being on the verge of becoming depressed; or missing my mom – it’s all cumulative, stressful, and keeping me up at night. I find myself scrolling through news headlines at 2 AM, then a couple of hours later, watching a recap of the top 10 4-chair turns on The Voice, then the sun is coming up. It’s not healthy. And it happens frequently.
Those of you who know me know that I used to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species biologist, I am a vegetarian largely for ecological reasons, and I strive to live an environmentally friendly existence. You know that on the political spectrum, I am left leaning, so it can’t come as any surprise that I’m worried about the political trajectory we’ve been on for the last many years, and even more so since the current administration took control. This year, in particular, has been a test of our fortitude – the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting conflicts over how to behave and whether or not to wear masks; the racial injustices and protests for change; and, most recently, the gut-punch-loss of the Notorious RBG.
The following words offer a glimpse into my soul as I write this: Sad. Dismayed. Infuriated. Incredulous. Heartbroken. Shocked. Demoralized. Hopeless. Crushed. Hopeful. (Describing myself using these words may come as a surprise if you follow us on Instagram, where we are portrayed as happy-go-lucky sailors, enjoying life despite the COVID. Herein lies one of the problems with social media.)
The following issues weigh heavily on me: The rolling back of existing environmental protections; the blatant denial of science and global climate change; the policy decisions that put immigrants and their families at risk; the slow but steady erosion of a woman’s right to choose; the chipping away at the right and access to voting; the dismantling of an already broken health care system that affects the most vulnerable populations; the injustices of a biased judicial system; how money influences everything everywhere; and the hypocrisy of governmental overreach – despite the conservative platform that calls for less government. Ironically, it is in the most personal and private aspects of our lives that conservatives want control – who we choose to love and whether or not we choose to bear children.
But most of all, I’m losing hope in humanity, and I don’t want to lose hope in humanity. I don’t want to lose hope, period. But the political system we’re operating under is broken. All are culpable. Governance of one of the most populated countries in the world (third to China and India) based on big money and absent empathy and compassion, further dividing the haves and the have-nots, the progressives and the conservatives, the whites and the non-whites, puts us squarely on a road to discontent, disenfranchisement, and desperation. The U.S. has become a country divided. It’s been coming on for a while now. The President has the privilege of using the power of the executive order to exert his (or her – someday, I hope) will on the people, each side changes long-established rules or attempts to amend the Constitution to serve their needs without consideration for the population as a whole. And somewhere along the way, we lost our ability to talk. To sympathize. To empathize. To have a political discourse founded in respect and openness about our perspectives, our differing points of view. We forgot that the person on the other side of the proverbial fence or the other side of the argument is, in fact, a human being.
Homo sapiens. We. Are. One. We are of the same species; we can (and do) interbreed freely. White, Black, Asian, Arab, Indigenous. We are one. We have the same basic needs. We need food, water, shelter to survive. We want the same basic things. We desire safety, financial security, and good health for our families. And we should all want this for every human being that walks this planet. We should want every human being to feel worthy of having these things. We should not stand in the way of our fellow human being seeking these things. I am saddened to think that we are rolling back the hands of time. Long, deadly battles for civil rights and equality have been fought before. We are fighting them again. We are dehumanizing certain groups again. We are taking away the rights of certain groups again. We are sliding back into a dark, hateful period of our history; the language used and behavior exhibited by this President of the U.S. and his supporters in Congress are vitriolic, encouraging those who have suppressed deep-seeded biases in their hearts to feel support where before there was none, inciting them to rise up and further divide this country – again. It is frightening and heart-wrenching. Can we stop history from repeating itself?
There are no easy answers. The only thing I can come up with is that we, as a species, must start seeing ourselves and each other as individuals, each with our own beliefs, our own moral compass, but with the same responsibility to one another and the planet that supports us. To solve any of the issues facing us now, we must be able to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, to better understand who we are, where we come from, and why we feel the way we do. And we have to be able to accept alternate points of view – without judgment, without hatred. We have to get away from Us vs. Them, the “my way or the highway” mentality. We need more empathy, more compassion, more of a sense of oneness. We are one species. Our government must find its way back to governing for the good of the population at large – rich or poor, Black or White. We have to remember that we’re all only human – none better than the other, just different, with different stories, different ideas, and different solutions – none of which will see the light of day unless we talk to each other.
If you’re subscribed to our blog and you read this post, but sit on the other side of the proverbial fence from me, and you want to talk – let’s talk. We have to start somewhere; we may as well start among friends. Let’s find a way to meet in the middle, to figure out what’s best for us – as a species, living together on this planet.