On board SeaDragon:Friday 20 November
My intention to sail the Atlantic with scientists and sailors is to create stories that are imbued with facts and embroiled with enchantment. The rest of the crew were excited to hear that there would be a storyteller on board and have been waiting curiously for story time.
Well, they would have to wait – because the only story I wanted to tell was about sea sickness. Sick when I stood up, sat down, ate, drank, thought, spaced out, kept still or moved around. The motion of the ocean created panic and longing within, like my stomach was flip flopping with dread every few seconds. Oh no, I had made a terrible mistake, I had envisioned being saturated in creativity, not sick and sweat.
”Keep hydrated”, they told me with a smile, as my dinner met the waves one more time. The water on board is H20, salt water double filtered to strip it of salt and minerals. It tastes of sadness. Others on board describe it differently but we all agree it is disgusting. I wonder if in its emptiness it reflects the feelings deep at the bottom of us. Those feelings that are hidden well with strategy and effort. We drink this water and it brings it up to the surface, all that is hollow within. Here on this boat I have had to face those feelings, soothe them and hold them so they do not take over.
Being sea sick has been no fun but it has brought a deep resource out of me. I have had to reach down into the fathomless depths of myself to find the stamina to fulfil my duties and stay connected to this epic adventure.
It comes in waves, the currency of the ocean.
Then one night I did it. I sat up on deck with the wisdom watch team and the wonder of the night enticed me to tell a story. To tell a story about the infinite skies under, well infinite skies was a treat full of awe and magic. The next night I told a story of wildness and encouraged the watch team to howl at the moon. Then came fox dreaming woman with her musky smell of love.
Last night we gathered in the cockpit at dusk, and I told the story of Tam Lin and the thin veils between the worlds above and below. It was rewarding to feel everyone listen so deeply.
Before I boarded I presumed I would be telling stories about sea creatures, Atlantis, dolphins, selkies and whales. The tales I have told have been full of rich earth, knotted trees and characters longing for home as I tune in to the collective consciousness.
An unexpected side effect of this journey has been that old stories, ones I have told for years and have settled into a familiar groove have been washed through with water. As I tell them shores, lakes, rivers, pools, fountains and waterfalls appear where before there was dry land. It feels like a delicious gift, a moistening and enrichment of my story soul. A welcome drink for a thirsty listener.
By day in my notepad I do write stories of the deep blue. Of life on board boats and treasure lost at the bottom of the ocean. I enjoy sneaking my ship mates into the stories, re-imagining them in secret as the warriors, queens, animals and pirates.
What a gift to get to know such extraordinary women. I hope they continue to be special guest stars in my stories for years to come. Where else would I find a Norwegian engineer mermaid. A welder with a wicked wit from San Francisco or a Boston Whale rider? I have also drafted a story about Ascension Island, a goddess story that celebrates natural child birth and gives children the welcome to earth that each one deserves.
I will leave a copy of it on board in case the beautiful artist on the next eXXpedition Stella Marina feels inspired to illustrate it (no pressure Stella!)
My imagination is bursting with stories of all colours and shapes, journeys, quests and cradle tales. I look forward to sharing them with you when they are ready. I hope they bring oceanic wisdom, deep belly laughter and sweet dreams.
Watch this space.