I was reflecting today on this voyage we are on. One which none of us bought tickets for, nor planned, yet here we are adrift. At sea.
We can now see liberty in the distance, but currently we’re anchored, or if not, moving imperceptibly slowly towards something.
What it is, remains unclear.
Our world physically has become a lot smaller. The confines of our cabin really. But in other ways, it’s become far more expansive. How physical constraints may have helped unlock some mental ones.
When we were free, and busy, and going about our daily tasks, our physical freedoms allowed us to have relatively unchallenged mental ones. It was all relatively predictable. And nothing wrong with that. I was happy.
But as we have found ourselves approaching “Ellis Island” today, we immigrants are unsure of what this new world holds, we are forced to think far harder and deeper about what lies beyond our current constraints. It’s an unfamiliar trip for us all.
I have heard some of my fellow passengers commenting favorably on this voyage. They have decided that when it’s over, they want to lead simpler lives. They have enjoyed this family time and want a new life once they disembark.
I wonder about this constantly. Do they have some form of Stockholm Syndrome where they have decided, subconsciously, to enjoy this voyage as it makes its duration more pleasant? Or have they indeed had an epiphany where they realize that life was too fast, expensive and superficial.
I’m unsure of this and I guess, there is no one answer.
We also know that there is illness ashore. Not just the normal diseases we all know well. Those which kill over 150 000 people a day like heart disease, cancer, emphysema, tuberculosis, influenza and the like, but a new virus that possibly kills an extra 5 percent of people who are mostly elderly or have compromised immune systems.
People somehow seem terrified of this virus particularly as it’s all you hear on board, all day. Nobody talks about the 90% of people who recover from it. Only the death.
Nobody talks about it like any other disease or social illnesses which take far more people every day. It’s become obsessive. It’s all consuming because it’s all the little newspaper we get on board covers.
Some of the passengers are buying gold, because although it has little intrinsic value, it’s what people have done for thousands of years in times of uncertainty. Other than my wedding band I have no gold. I have no knowledge of whether I should buy it. When I don’t know the answer I tend not to do it.
What I have enjoyed on this cruise, beyond the gentle ebb and flow of the daily seas, is having time to reconnect with my friends on the ship who I haven’t spoken to in years.
Life has been so fast and busy for us all. That’s something I’ll take with me onto land. The importance of making more time for those who matter to me. For longer and richer conversations.
But I really worry deeply about most of the passengers on board who have run out of money. They had no savings and what little money they had on them, is gone. And the food isn’t being handed out for free by the kitchen, so unless the other passengers chip in, they’ll starve.
They had jobs waiting for them on land but we now hear those jobs are disappearing too as the ship is still at sea and with nobody to run and help in those businesses on land, they are being forced to close.
We have asked how long this new disease on land will last and nobody knows. They say most people recover fully and some don’t even know they have it and that it may be around for eighteen months or more. But that tomorrow we can get off the ship to exercise between 6-9am : the gangplank will be very busy as it’s a short amount of time for us all to get off the ship and then back on again.
They have now implemented a curfew at night where we are not allowed off the ship at all, and during the day, only certain passengers are allowed to leave if the ships stewards are told these passengers jobs are important enough for going on land. They decide this unilaterally.
We are not allowed to buy alcohol or cigarettes on the ship either and if we want to call room service rather than leave our rooms or the ship, we are told we can only buy certain things they deem important, not what we want or need. Or what is in stock.
When we left on this voyage, we were told it’s for three weeks. The captain then extended it for a further two weeks, but now that we see Lady Liberty in our midst, we are told we still aren’t allowed on land. That although the voyage has ended, we still need to stay on the ship, albeit in the harbour.
Our cruise started not to cure the virus but to give the land hospitals time to prepare for this illness from which over 90% of the passengers will recover. After 5 weeks at sea, and with so many passengers having no more money, and many more losing their land jobs, I question what life will hold for them once they disembark?
They will be young and healthy, but without jobs and without money and the illness will still be around them ,and they will wonder if they would not have been better off if they weren’t sent on this voyage? My heart breaks for them.
We are getting mixed reports from the captain, the health officer and the stewards about the new rules. We wonder what happened to our own ability to make free decisions about our own lives. We could do that before the voyage.
Tomorrow we arrive. But only some of us can disembark. For a period of time. And then back before curfew starts. And all of us have new stringent rules we don’t quite understand.
Seems like although we are going to be back on land, we’ll still be at sea…