Life is a daring adventure or nothing at all. When Helen Keller spoke those words, it’s not likely she was thinking of pirates, but they fit perfectly the happiest pirate this side of Margaritaville and his parrothead followers.
If there are three trademarks of a pirate, it’s these
1. The willingness to take bold chances.
2. The willingness to steal.
3. The thirst for adventure.
If this is true, then Jimmy Buffett is not only a pirate’s pirate, but he’s had school in session for over forty years, teaching parrothead/pirates the intimate details of how to pull this pirate thing off. Let’s get started by putting a few things up front.
Jimmy’s been shot down in Jamaica, crashed his plane in Long Island, been put down by critics, thrown out of sports arenas, and had his share of illicit taxi rides. Yet each time cannon balls fly his way, he’s found a way to “… jump up and smile back at …” us.
This is exactly what makes Jimmy Buffett a pirate’s pirate. Adversity is no stranger to him. It’s just that he’s learned to make friends with it. It’s hard to know whether Jimmy shines because of his resilience, or whether his resilience comes from his ability to shine. I’m convinced if given an electric guitar and Jimmy Buffett‘s example, Blackbeard would have turned out differently.
Let’s face it. No one would ever accuse Jimmy of being a saint, yet there are few people I know closer to God. When you make so many people happy in a world writhing in pain, it’s one of the most godlike things a human can do. More of us should learn to do that.
As for this whole stealing thing, Jimmy is guilty. For over forty years, he’s stolen our hearts while encouraging us to live our dreams. What‘s more, he’s taught us to steal our lives and our dreams back from those who stole them from us a piece at a time.
Though he seems to preach a hedonistic lifestyle, Jimmy is more of a Buddha than a sensualist. It’s all about the present moment. No matter what you were expecting, it is always now. Breathe in, breathe out. Move on. It’s a terrific lesson. Continue reading →
We owe an incredible debt to mariners whether they answer the call of the sea for money or adventure. Include in that group commercial fishermen, members of the merchant marines, ferry and tugboat operators, workers on cruise ships, and many more brave men and women who know what the demands of life on board a ship entails.
And make no mistake about it. The men and women who serve in the United States Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines and around the world are a special breed of mariners. Along with the aforementioned, they willingly put themselves in harm’s way for their country not only in war time but in times of crisis when life, limb, and property hang in the balance.
Much has been made of the dangers from pirates these past several years. With more than one sailor losing his life to these ruthless cutthroats, they are a force to be reckoned with. The luckier ones have been held ransom while loved ones a world away wait for years in dread and uncertainty.
But pirates aren’t the only peril mariners face when the last vestiges of land disappear. As stately and rugged as they are, ships today still must face the ferocity of storms at sea. How many men and women lost their lives just in this past year because of storms? Only the other day, a Russian trawler went down within minutes with fifty-four dead and fifteen missing. The death toll would have been far worse if not for nearby sailors risking their lives to save those in the frigid, choppy waters.
Old or poorly maintained ships are yet another hazard many mariners around the world must deal with. Alas, it’s a fact of life that for some companies the bottom line supersedes the lives of those who serve on their ships.
Ask any mariner working on a fishing boat or cargo ship about the dangers they face on any given voyage. It’s not a reflection on the captain or crew. It’s the nature of the job. Equipment doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to. Long hours and weariness take their toll, making it easier for accidents to happen.
Someone once asked me: What’s with this obsession with pirates? If we all live like pirates, won’t we degenerate into a bunch of selfish cutthroats creating a hell for each other? The truth is living life with a pirate spirit is not about cheating and lying to aggrandize ourselves. It isn’t about taking what doesn’t belong to you. The thugs who create havoc around the world stealing ships, taking hostages, maiming and killing aren’t really part of this pirate equation. In denying mariners their property, their right to earn an honest living on the seas, and often enough their lives, these criminals become the very pariah they flail against.
Living life with a pirate spirit is really about reclaiming your life and your dreams, two things stolen from many of us a long, long time ago. The reason pirates from the Golden Age appeal so strongly to us is that they symbolize the independent, swashbuckling adventurer we all long to be, an adventurer willing to take chances to bring his dreams to life.
Sailors love the sea for the very same reason. Beyond the sight of land, a thousand miles from everywhere, something stirs in us and we feel alive like it was the first day of creation. Anything and everything suddenly becomes possible.
There’s another aspect to living our pirate dreams. When we become emboldened and take steps to make our dreams real, there is a rippling effect, so that we can’t help but want others to live their dreams as well.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh once said, “We are all islands in a common sea.” The humanity we share, knowing what it is to hope and dream and love and despair, these are the things that connect us to each other. No island ever became greater by taking from another. Would you live your pirate dreams? Then encourage others to do the same. You cannot claim freedom for yourself and deny it to others.
What chance have you taken lately? What dreams burn in your heart? What are you willing to do this coming week to help make one of them come true? Steal back part of your life. Chart a new course, and when you see a fellow mariner on the sea of life, lend him a helping hand. Pirates like other pirates. They love their adventurous spirit; they relate to the yearnings deep in their hearts. You can see it at a Jimmy Buffett concert. You can see it at a Bike Rally. Stand fast! See you out on the High Seas.