Monday, 19 January 2009

Wildness and exhilaration.

I am glad that there are things of which we still are not in control. This is a terrible thing, for all that nobody actually died - don't get me wrong. But the sea is still somewhere where we do not have full control, where there are pirates and dangers and little is easy. And that is exciting. Our world has become so much more controlled. The touring cruise ships try and carry that bubble of security with them as they cross the oceans, but it is fake - witness the Titanic. That was landlubbing luxury carried onto the sea, where it dissolved. And the laws of the sea are ancient and piratical, too. If I've understood it correctly, and I may well not have, whichever ship rescued the one that was floundering is automatically liable to claim unspecified and often large salvage costs from the one in trouble. That was how people were once encouraged to rescue one another at sea - because the reward was so extravagant. There are some truly horrific tales of when this has gone wrong, because the skipper of the boat in trouble won't accept assistance because his vessel will then be forfeit and people die (I believe laws of salvage and contracts for it were amended considerably after the Penlee disaster in that link). But the sea is a law unto itself. Enormously exciting; enormously terrifying. No risk, no gain. Large risks - large gain. A gamble every step. But we use it every day, especially in an island nation like ours. The sea is prosperity and disaster, requiring bravery and guts to traverse, but addictive to those who understand it. Not that I am one of those, even if I probably have more idea than some given my hydrophilic family.

I am glad there are wildnesses that we really will never tame; that will never be totally safe and sterile. I am exhilarated by the risk of them - even me, who often seems to be distressed by things like that, love that sense of adventure.

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