We’re two weeks into the New Year and by now most people have blown their New Year’s Resolutions. Still working out every day? Missed two days the first week and the second week wasn’t any better. Showed up two days. That diet you’ve been on? Some have gained another pound or two trying to get rid of that holiday candy calling their name.
But I’m not too concerned about that gym resolution or those few pounds that found their way to your waist. Doctors and psychologists will tell you it’s normal for people to break those kinds of resolutions shortly after they’re made unless they’re tied to a profound commitment to change.
And that’s why I’m offering you a second chance. A second chance to make some meaningful New Year Resolutions that will have a huge impact on your life. These twelve resolutions have less to do with diet and exercise and more to do with altering the behavior that will get you to the Far Side of the World where your Pirate Dreams await.
I have a bumper sticker with a skull and crossbones on it. The skull is wearing an eyepatch, smiling no doubt because of the bright red bandana it’s sporting. Underneath it reads: “Put a Real Pirate in Office. Jimmy Buffett for President.”
I think Jimmy is having way too much fun to be tricked into running for president, but of all the pirates I’ve known, Blackbeard would make a terrific president. It’s hard to think of a more presidential candidate than Edward Thatch. That’s his baptismal name. Yes, even the parents of buccaneers have high expectations for their offspring.
Of course, I can hear your comments now. He doesn’t look anything like a president. Look at all that hair! And that beard! Have you lost your mind? As a matter of fact, I have, but my wife has gotten used to it. Did you know we had quite a number of presidents who were no slackers in the hair and beard department? Abe Lincoln, of course, being one of the greatest.
It may interest you to know the last time we had a president with a full blown beard was President Rutherford Hayes, twenty-third president who served from 1877 to 1881. He could have passed as Blackbeard’s double though I don’t think Blackbeard would have approved of him as president. At his wife’s urging, he banished wine and liquor from the White House. That’s not the sort of thing a president with pirate tendencies does.
In case you haven’t noticed, Donald Trump is no slouch in the hair department though he would probably garner a bit more respect if he let it go pure white instead of using something on it that looks like dog pee. His hair dresser should tell him white hair implies age and wisdom.
As for Blackbeard, he was a dedicated pragmatist who knew exactly how to utilize his hair and beard. He used to weave fuses in his beard then light them during battle to intimidate his opponents. Imagine how frightening he would appear before a joint session of Congress or in a tense meeting with Vladimir Putin when suddenly smoke belched from his head, his black penetrating eyes boring a hole in your soul.
But it takes more than hair to be a leader. When you’re the leader of a pirate ship, you need three things: an ability to take control, a knowledge of people, and a thorough understanding of your profession. Blackbeard had these in aces.
However, like every politician, he held his position using guile, though his strong pirate persona would certainly give him an edge over whining tea partyers. He once blew the candle out in his cabin while drinking with a few of his crew. Suddenly, he picked up his pistols and fired them underneath the table, laming one person. When asked why he did it, he answered: “Got to show ‘em who’s boss once in a while.”
I think that would work well when a pirate president runs into a congress like we’ve had for what seems an eternity. After all, if pirates pulled off the crap that our senators and congressmen have, they’d never leave port. Pirates unlike most members of Congress today knew if you wanted to get things done… if you wanted booty, rum, and wenches then you had to compromise; you couldn’t sit on the deck and whine about having everything your way: “I don’t want to go to Africa; I don’t think we should take that prize; how come I don’t ever get first choice of captured guns. Blah! Blah! Blah!” Continue reading →
May 09 marks the 156th birthday of J. M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan. It was Barrie who helped shape our concept of pirates and our love for them. Captain Hook with his elaborate dress, his one eye, his hook, and his diabolical demeanor changed the public‘s consciousness towards pirates forever. We were hooked from the outset.
Barrie was born in Scotland but moved to London to make his way in the literary world. He was successful as a playwright long before he wrote Peter Pan in 1903. However, when it appeared on stage the following year, audiences adored it.
Few are aware the character of Peter Pan first appeared in another work of Barrie’s called The Little White Bird. When Peter Pan was first written, it was also known appropriately enough as The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up.
Peter Pan relates the story of a boy who remains eternally young. One night he flies into a nursery and tells two boys and a girl all about Never Never Land. Fascinated, he agrees to take them there after a fairy sprinkles them with fairy dust. Their adventures involve Peter battling Captain Hook who tries several times to kill him. In the end, Peter defeats Hook when he falls off his ship, the Jolly Roger, and into the mouth of a waiting crocodile.
Peter Pan appeals to that part of our soul that stays forever young, that prompts us to still chase our dreams and believe anything is possible whether we‘re six or ninety-six.
Beyond that, Peter Pan teaches us that it’s okay to be childlike long after we’ve outgrown our childish ways. This would help to explain why Jimmy Buffett is still so appealing to aging parrotheads. He’s reintroduced us to pirates and the fun to be had from exploring our childlike heart. Continue reading →
I have to laugh at these survivor “reality” shows that depict teams of fit athletes, or sometimes couples, naked and afraid, cast into inhospitable conditions then expected to prove their mettle! Meanwhile, a TV crew and backup are prepared to supply them with any basics necessary should an emergency arise. What a joke!
Do you see anyone arriving on your front doorstep when there’s no money in the bank, the roof is leaking, the latest doctor bill is on you because the insurance company rejected your claim, and the landlord just raised your rent again? Now that’s reality!!!
If you want something closer to a real story based on a true life adventure, I suggest you pick up a book that’s nearly 300 years old. The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe, though written as a novel and published April 25, 1719, relates the story of a man who actually requested to be marooned on an island a million miles from civilization. Continue reading →
It was a chilly morning in late October when Captain Cribbs first spotted the ship flying the Jolly Roger. Immediately, he knew the terrible ordeal his men were in for. He pulled his coat tighter about his shoulders as the restless waves rocked his ship in an almost lyrical pattern. Without a moment’s hesitation, he gave his men their orders, and like a well-oiled machine, the crew set to work, preparing for the horrendous battle about to engulf them.
Cannoneers and their crew prepared their artillery while others greased the deck and covered it with dried peas. They then laid down boards with nails driven through them. Sharp shooters prepared their weapons as they took up positions. If pirates were going to take the Bauden, they would have to fight savagely for Captain Cribbs and his men weren’t going to yield so much as a plank.
“Strike colors!” the captain of the Trompeuse commanded, motioning to the flag snapping high in the stiff morning breeze.
Cribbs’ eyes glowered with pent-up rage, and the pirate captain knew death would come for many men on both ships. Suddenly, cannons thundered mercilessly, the vibrations shaking the very hulls of the two ships. When cannon balls landed, masts splintered and timbers became deadly projectiles hitting several men. The broadside continued as soon as cannons were reloaded, and once more men and ships were reduced to human pulp and wooden fragments.
Four hours later, both Cribbs and the pirate captain lay dead. Realizing the gravity of the situation, the pirates withdrew.
Hopefully, your days don’t get as dramatic as that, but still I must ask you. Who’s broad siding your ship? Out on the high seas of life, dangers wait. Some are big and thus obvious. Others are seemingly insignificant yet just as deadly.
When things don’t go well for you, when you run into trouble, what are you prepared to do? Are you willing to bleed for your dreams? We all have our ship to command. How we handle that responsibility makes all the difference in the world.
Broadsides from our enemies are often predictable, so we can prepare for them. But how many times are we broadsided by small things, and then with barely a whimper, we surrender.
How many times were you sailing smoothly towards the island of your dreams, when that mutinous voice inside your head cried out. “I’m too old.” “I’m too young.” “It’s too late to do anything about it.” “I don’t know where to begin.” “I don’t have the connections.” “I don’t have the experience.” “No one wants me because I have too much experience.” “I got a late start in life.” And on and on the traitorous voice whispers. Continue reading →
Life is full of risks. For the sailor, the explorer, even the monk who barely ventures from his cell. No matter where you go, even if you go nowhere, life is full of risks. Some large. Some small. In the face of those risks, some play it safe while others throw the dice wildly, gambling it all. If this is true for landlubbers who prefer terra firma to the uncertain and unpredictable seas, then it is especially true for anyone who ventures out on ocean, river, bay, or lake.
Whether you’re a sailor or fisherman who spends months at sea, or a casual tourist berthed safely aboard a luxurious cruise ship, there are risks losing sight of the shore.
Some of the dangers are of nature’s own making; and some are manmade. Who would have thought we would see the makings of a hurricane in January. Yet we saw Hurricane Alex form on January 14 this year before turning its wrath on the Azores. Hurricanes are Mother Nature’s domain. Still the decision to sail the cargo ship El Faro into the fury of Hurricane Joaquin last fall taking 33 lives was a human decision.
Sometimes the dangers we face come from our own carelessness. Mariners often sustain serious injury or death because they circumvent safety procedures. The systems and protocols in place on ships are there for the safety of everyone. Over-familiarity, routine, monotony, and being overtired are part of a recipe for bad judgment that can have horrible consequences.
Sometimes, the dangers we face are the result of someone else’s neglect. Holland America was recently ordered to pay twenty-one and a half million dollars because it was found guilty of negligence when an automatic door leading from a restaurant quickly closed on a guest causing head injuries severe enough to incapacitate him and eventually forcing him to sell his business.
A freak accident? It was revealed in court that this was a pattern repeated over and over, but the problem wasn’t corrected because a slowly closing door would have caused the ship to burn more fuel for air conditioning. Now they’re burning through investors’ money to pay for their negligence. Continue reading →
The Dawn of a New Year has broken, a leap year none the less, and many of you still have no idea where you want to set sail.
To be sure, you want this year to be different- you want this to be the year to make deep and profound changes in your life. For some those changes are personal, for others financial; yet for others the changes are more spiritual. But beyond that vague ache in your heart, you’re not sure where to set your course.
I say to you, to set a new course in the new year, follow your Pirate Heart. “Follow my Pirate Heart?” you ask incredulously. Yes, and if you haven’t before, go to my website Uncommon Mariners and read the section “About Me.” It’s all about discovering your pirate heart and following your pirate dreams.
Pirates more than 200 years ago especially Caribbean pirates became pirates for a lot of reasons, only one of them being financial gain. Beyond money was the underlying hunger to regain control of their lives. In 2016, that’s what being a pirate is all about, at least on a more profound and symbolic level.
The quintessential question posed before you at the beginning of this new year is very basic. What do I need to do to reclaim my pirate life, the life I was born to lead?
Here are a few questions you should consider before you go to bed each night of 2016 or at least when you start each day: Continue reading →
Pirates have long enjoyed the notorious reputation of burying chests laden with treasure. Most of the stories are myth, but today I’m asking you, “What’s in your treasure chest? What kind of booty are you after?”
For some of us, it’s houses, cars, and fancy toys. For others adventure is the very touchstone of their soul. It’s why people travel, scuba dive, and jump out of airplanes.
For others it‘s health. Or a satisfied mind. It’s the reason both the Serenity Prayer of St. Francis and Buddhism have been so popular.
For many of us, family and friends are our greatest treasure. For others, it’s using their talents to make a difference. Van Gogh was hardly recognized in his lifetime, yet his treasure chest was chock full of good things. Sadly, only Vincent knew it.
Figuratively speaking, we’re all on the High Seas of Life, swinging our cutlasses, gleefully shouting, “Arrrgh!” Each day we set sail, striving to fill our lives with all the happiness, adventure, and contentment our pirate hearts can hold. Yet everyone’s chest has its own unique mix of treasure, and not one of us can tell another his chest is all wrong. That’s something everyone has to figure out for himself.
Once in a while, we need to drop anchor and dig through our booty. Lots of good stuff in there! But are you missing anything? A better relationship? A dream you left to wither in a shadowy corner of your soul?
Or perhaps your treasure chest has gotten filled with things that no longer work for you. Things that have become more of a burden than a joy. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself, “How does this serve me now?” Letting go of what we cling to opens our hands to new treasure.
Go ahead. Take a look inside that chest of yours before you drop off to sleep tonight. Do you like what you see? Anything missing? Time to make a few adjustments?
When you make that final voyage on the Sea of Life and the Great Mariner greets you, maybe he’ll be grinning more than you when you open your chest and show him what you’ve got.
It was a pretty daunting Tuesday that lay before me. My check-in for my colonoscopy was at 8:00 am. The procedure was at 9:00. With any luck, I’d be sitting in the Applewood House of Pancakes by 11:00, savoring Amy’s Awesome shrimp omelet and a stack of hot pancakes. The preparation leading up to my procedure involved the unavoidable misery the day before. So when my wife pulled into the hospital parking lot at 7:22, It was comforting to know I had time to spare.
Fifteen minutes later, my day began to unwind quicker than the threadbare sails of an aging galleon. “You’re all set,” the receptionist said, as she signed me in. Then there was a long pause as she glanced at the number written next to Tuesday.
“Seventeen what?” I asked.
“The secretary scheduled you for the seventeenth.”
“Yes. Tuesday. It says so right there.”
“She wrote the wrong date,” she replied. “You’re in the computer for tomorrow.”
If there had been anything in my stomach, it certainly would have growled in protest. “Don’t worry. We won’t make you do that preparation again. They’ll have to squeeze you in.”
As I climbed out of the wheel chair and into the waiting car seven hours later, I glanced at my wife. Lunch had proved as elusive as Amy‘s Awesome omelet. But at least my troubles were behind me.
Flashback to a little over four hundred years ago. Sailors hustled on the Cuban dock as a restless breeze rocked the ships that lay at anchor. Noblemen and slaves alike were abuzz as they made final preparations for their trip to Spain. Unimaginable wealth was stored in the ships’ hulls: gold, emeralds, and silver bars. Carefully packed in crates were chalices, plates of silver, and finely crafted jewelry. Then there was the loot the greedy had smuggled aboard to avoid the ship‘s manifest.
Somewhere two hundred miles to the east, a monster with massive arms swirled clouds, wind, and rain wildly in its path. Two days later, the Atocha and twenty-seven other ships in a caravan struggled in mountainous seas. The Atocha and the Margarita were among the unlucky ones, sinking in fifty-five feet of water. As primitive as their forecasting was, the people of the day had warning of what was to come. Yet greed, restlessness, and a yearning to return home overcame their better judgment. Continue reading →