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SHIIIIIIIIIIP


Dear Jim,

There is a thing that people do here.

It’s odd that they remain so enthusiastic, given that it happens multiple times a day. In fact, it’s almost child-like.

People here watch the ships.

And I don’t mean just watch them if they happen to look up and see them passing.

If they see them coming, they shout

“Ship! Ship! Ship!”

racing to the closest window, or even outside for prime viewing as it sails past.

The bigger the ship, the better.

It’s such a ritual of importance, that the other day I was informed 30mins BEFORE a large ship was going to pass by. (There is a real-time map online that tells you these things.)

It has me questioning what the fascination with these ships is.

Why do people rush out to see them when they can be seen almost every day, sometimes more?

I’m reading a book called “The Lonely City” at the moment, which talks about how loneliness is portrayed in artworks, literature, and generally what it is to be lonely - how it affects us, can strengthen us, manifests itself.

So I was thinking about this the other day, as another ship passed by, and I think I’ve worked it out.

Or maybe I haven’t, but it’s a theory.

This island is small, quiet, and the house that I am staying at is out of town.

There are no close neighbours as such.

Many occupants only come for the summer.

So looking out across the water, maybe a ship passing serves as a reminder that someone else is out there.

Out on the seas, we wave to each other from boats as we pass by, though we rarely do from cars.

It’s a camaraderie shared by those on the water.

I think it’s an acknowledgement that we are all in this together.

That we are surviving, enduring, miraculously floating across the fickle water that could turn against us at any moment.

There is something immensely vast about the sea, even when it is an archipelago that has boats regularly passing.

Watching the ships sail by, perhaps is a little reminder that you are not alone.

A little wave shared with those on board who cannot see you, and cannot be seen.

A nod of recognition, of paths crossed, of survival and resilience in a vast and trying world.


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© Alisa Tanaka-King 2020