Confined? 

In these viral times, we live alongside events of Biblical proportions; death, displacement, dislocation, disaster, yet for many, plagued only by the minor miseries of home confinement and social distancing, our lives often seem mundane. Unlikely to be the heroes or (hopefully) the victims of this hour, we simply carry on (sometimes in oh too familiar ways).

As a retired couple, Chris and I have no work of national or international importance to offer.  We cannot tend the sick, feed the hungry, develop a vaccine or, as it turns out, mend our own toilet!  So, in pursuit of our seemingly insignificant lives, we took a walk early one misty day, around our small town.  Creatures of habit, we headed towards the pleasant yet modest marina.  In light of the pandemic, there have been few comings and goings here in the last several weeks, and we had grown accustomed to the sight of the large, luxurious, commercial yacht moored here for a while, absent its customary expense-account clientele.  I glanced beyond the shuttered restaurant toward the little commercial port at the other end of town.  I could not believe my eyes until I realized Chris was picking up his jaw from his dusty sneakers.  We gawped at a humongous cruise ship looming out of the hanging haze.  This was the kind of vessel that in those faraway, but actually not very distant days, encircled the globe, pampering patrons whose interests lie on the beaches and the fringes of society.

Perhaps I am a touch harsh and hasty in my judgments; I have thoroughly enjoyed a couple of cruises especially one that sailed to St Petersburg. Even as I wallowed in the pleasure of it all, it was impossible not to see the experience as a metaphor for the divisions in our world.  In our case, largely older, white people travelling for a week or two were served by largely younger brown and black people travelling for many months, sometimes years.

As the local newspaper informed us, the current ship will be at our deep-water port for many months.  With the travel industry drowning, there are no longer enough berths for the ships that sailed the seven seas. Now seven vessels are at anchor further south, with their creditors presumably scanning the forecasts for the first hurricanes of the season.

About 120 crew members remain on board. Their long-term prospects may well be bleak, but for now they are confined to a gilded cage.  As restrictions begin to relax, Chris and I are no longer quite so confined to our  (lovely) home, yet I mused about the ways we all voluntarily confine ourselves.  I’m not really focused on the limitations we can do little about, but on those we accept or impose on ourselves.  Unquestioning acceptance of social and gender stereotypes, the fear of failure and rejection, the self-doubt that cramps creativity, habits of mind and behavior that we think are forever fixed, reluctance to defy our comfort zones.  Chris and I felt we dared to be different, to scupper expectations when we left our comfortable lives in Massachusetts to split our retirement between north Florida and Colorado.  Any trace of daring we might claim pales into insignificance compared with the courage some muster to burst through barriers that confine them .  Sinead Burke is a little person, 3 ft 5in tall.  Every day she faces  both ridicule and physical challenges. Those of you who’ve seen her TED talk know that she refuses to be confined by her circumstances or the prejudices of others.  She embraces life as a teacher and design consultant with an engaging, sassy sense of humor.

When the lockdown lifts, let’s try to be less confined.

Recent Posts

Lucky

Lucky

LuckyJust a couple of weeks ago, Chris and I surprised ourselves by scaling the steep headland that overlooks Mamora Bay, Antigua.  Even recovered from the climb, the view is breathtaking. To the right, a lucky horseshoe bay surrounded by hillsides dotted with...

Mrs. Satan for President

Mrs. Satan for President

Mrs. Satan for PresidentAs she passed around an article, our French conversation teacher suggested in a mild way, that we might find it controversial. Controversial?  Sacré bleu!  That’s quite the understatement.  I was blown away! Since I grew up in England, where...

By Chance

By Chance

By ChanceSome of the best things in life happen by chance. We were enjoying a family vacation on the West Coast of Scotland when, by chance, we spotted a poster advertising the Highland Games to be held the following day on the isle of Mull in the Western Hebrides. As...