A Brief Survival Guide to Being Lost at Sea

March 18, 2006  Saturday

Dear Carlson Family, far away–

I was asked by Marley and her family tonight, as they visit her (she has just returned from Italy) about what life is like in the Navy.  More specifically, what it must be like to be out here amid the waves for so long?   I think I  have answered it fairly well, and send this vital information to you as well:

How do I what, exactly?   Have North Sea clouds of such never-ending, abundant solid silver of two hundred tons above me if they are an once, raining its dour, wet treasures into my dingy, overflowing glass?

An even better question might be: What other options are afforded the saltiest of this earth?  Posing this query and fifty-cents (as they say) will get a cup of coffee, so we will shield form the darkness, and assume the more sunny disposition with the identity of Monty Python’s Eric Idle, nailed to the cross, singing until the very end…


“Always look on the bright side of life….

            Doo-doo, doo-doo doo-doo, doo-doo…”

First, before land is lost to the horizon learn to strip life down to barest essentials and simplest joys.  A nice email from a loved one. Butterscotch pudding for dinner.  Warm gloves to shelter your hands.  Getting your laundry back at all (Gnomes are plentiful).  Another day done.

Forget the race of time, embrace the survival instincts of a marathon.  The future is no further than what must be done until the next meal.  Learn a spicy sauce of ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and Tabasco sauce that can be put on anything; let this be all the taste you need.  Be thankful to be full.  Be thankful not to be an engineer.  Bring extras of your favorite stress foods, any source of caffeine possible, or as John Lennon put it, ‘whatever gets you through the night.’  Trade in a little sleep on occasion if a little happiness is found, but don’t watch the Jack Black and Ben Stiller film Envy just because it’s happens to be playing on the ship’s TVs.



Take all the books along that you’ve always wanted to read, share and trade for what others have.  Work with headphones on when it can be managed.  Take pictures, write the silly stories down, and retell them often; they only get better when well-used and aged.  Laugh at the absurdities and reject any seriousness.  Take it as a strange honor to be yelled at when yelling was not necessary.  Keep your world round and full, discarding any flattening criticism or foolish berating like it is in a foreign language, spoken by a person stricken with Terrets.

Rebel in little ways that remind you that you are human.  See the sun once a day.  Do push-ups just before bed.  Think better of beginning to smoke just for something to do.  Keep in mind and heart always that which makes you happy.  Smile for being alive. Dwell in the memories of those that love you.  And take joy in the fact that time in fact does not stand still.  And one day, God willing, be fooled enough by your own brain to think the time you gave for your country was not in vain, and your cloud really was made  of as much silver as you pretended it to be.


One Comment Add yours

  1. I joined the navy to sea the world: and what did I see, I saw the sea!


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