Captain’s Log 2020

Captain’s Log, Earthdate 30.12.2020.

We have almost completed a full revolution around the sun of the Earth’s star system. When we began this mission almost 365 Earth days ago, it seemed routine; hopeful even. There was little indication of the nature of the challenges we would face.

In what now retrospectively seems like foreshadowing, I began 2020 with a commitment to “focus on being over doing.” Less than a quarter of the way into the year, I would have the opportunity to focus exclusively on just that: “doing” pretty much anything became out of the question. In order to ensure the survival of the human species, we were implored by our commanding officers to follow the rare imperative to focus simply on being:

Our province’s health officer’s imperative. Illustration by BC artist Sharon Montgomery

The transition from “normal time” to “unprecedented time” occurred swiftly, over a matter of days. In Canada – the political-geographical sector of Earth where I have been for the duration of this mission – the date that “sh*t got real” was Friday the 13th (already an inauspicious day), and will go down in the record books as The Day That Hockey Was Cancelled.

At the time I was assigned to command a land-based vessel of student travellers from various sectors of Earth, voyaging through the Canadian Rocky Mountains. We ended up being among the very last to visit many locations, amid a rapidly rising climate of fear, before everything was thrust into a closure period of unknown length.

Taking in the view of Banff on that fateful last-trip-before-pandemic-shutdown

After completing this journey, a 3-day furlough to visit my family in the Okanagan region turned into a 3-month marooning, as all of my future voyage assignments were cancelled indefinitely, and my entire industry was pushed forcibly into an unnatural hibernation.

Pandemic Pals: for the first 3 months, anyway!

I must confess one of the most difficult hurdles was to let go of how I had expected the year to go. After a series of short-term assignments on the West Coast of the North American continent, I was to embark on a 6-month voyage piloting a vessel of adventurers around the East Coast. The highlight of this was to be a first time visit to one of my lands of ancestral heritage: Newfoundland, birthplace of my maternal grandfather. After all of this I planned a personal furlough voyage to Scotland and possibly beyond.

It was, admittedly, to be a lot of doing, despite my stated intention to focus on being.

So it was that during the sixth month, I left my place of refuge in the sunny Okanagan to carve out my own place to be in rainy Vancouver: a questionable but necessary course of action. It is modest quarters, but I am thankful for it, as I am lucky to have secured such a place in my current unassigned situation. Earth is – at the present time – unfortunately still in a primitive state of economic development which requires the exchange of labour for currency which is by necessity traded for a place to “be” in order to “do” more labour. It’s an irrational cycle, but I digress. Thanks to a combination of savings and my political region’s social safety net I am able to maintain this modest dwelling, transforming it into my own place of refuge: a good place to be and a silver lining to the year’s storm clouds.

One major challenge of this mission is one that I believe is shared by many: the isolation and loneliness of being reduced to a crew of one. At the end of 2019, having finished my “Full Circle” quest of post-marriage-apocalypse recovery, I felt quite well-adjusted to solo mission assignments. However, this year the solitude-by-decree and not by choice has grown increasingly wearying, enhancing the challenges to enjoying a solitary existence. I am trying to focus on surpluses rather than deficits, hoping that the latter will balance themselves out.

A rare (for 2020) & socially-distanced outdoor excursion to “just be” in the fresh ocean air. Photo: Jacob KVDL

As this revolution of the sun concludes and the next one is set to begin, the end of this crisis is still a long way off. Encouragingly, our scientific and medical research teams have made extraordinarily swift progress, and believe that before the next sun revolution concludes, this present threat to humanity’s survival will be defused (although there will undoubtedly be some future crises to follow).

While I long for more exhilarating and less isolating mission assignments in the future, at present the mission is simple: stay the course. Easy on the “doing.” Just… be.

Set coordinates maintaining present course and speed into 2021. Coordinates locked. Engage.

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