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In earlier blogs I have likened our voyage to the Plastic Gyre to a jaunt on the Shuttle to Outer Space. I am now feeling the effects of re-entry. Returning to “real life“ is weird. The ocean journey is so real and fresh that I indeed feel awkward as an auk looking around at how we humans go about our daily activities on land.
A few hours after arriving in Hong Kong on Monday, I had repacked and was on another flight to Shanghai. “Insane!” my San Francisco friends said en route (I flew from Portland via SF to Hong Kong and on to Shanghai….) Yes, re-entry was a blur during the precious few hours’ stopover in SF as their hospitality outdid itself – a street food festival in The Mission district, a mojito (or two) at a new found favourite dive The Phone Booth, and a stunning late late lunch at Limon, a Peruvian gem on the other side of 24th Street. Maximum overload stimuli plus cocktails… While I was poured into a spa bath, my greasy dirty stuff in the laundry to get me all clean and squeaky for the long ride back East, they looked at photos. “Too much to explain in one go”, I said, and passed out before the taxi came.
I finally arrived in Shanghai last evening, cancelled a dinner appointed and fell into bed to awake fully dressed nearly 12 hours later.
“Where am I ? Where’s my bunk? Did I miss my manta madness night shift ???!!!”
I’m back to a routine I knew before. That’s before I embarked upon one of the most extraordinary journeys of my life to date. I have not had time to process everything – this I know will come in time, and in its own time. What I do know profoundly is, things are not the same – they cannot be. I don’t want them to be because I want to be part of something that has to do with change. The positive, collective change in habits and behavior that needs to happen to most of us living in this modern world.
My routine is not routine anymore. I am mindful of everything – every interaction, every decision, big or small. I’m happier for it. And, I’ve slowed down my reactions to consider more clearly the actions I want to take. No kneejerk.
I also know now that my intuition was correct for this voyage. It is one I had to go on, not wanted to go on. I am extremely grateful for being able to have made this “requirement” of mine a reality. So, “real” can actually be so, if you want it badly enough.
I think of reality in relative and virtual ways. One day aboard bordering sundowner time, Jim the Scripps faculty advisor of Lucky, The Catatonic Puppy fame by now, caught Josh, Andrew and I mixing virtual cocktails on the bridge deck. We were so into it we did not see his stealth camera clad figure quietly observing our convincing behavior. “What are you guys doing?” his inquiring smile slid into the scene. Giggles and pours into my issue Bunk 17 cup where enough to widen his grin into full-blown underbreath gut laughs. Josh had divulged his recipe for a Dizzy Fizzy, we were flirting with a Twurly Wurly and I was just about to spout a cheating meanest Margarita.
There were so many real things on the trip it hurt. Sometimes real hurts. People avoid real or hurt if they can. Miraculously, everyone came away physically unscathed in relation to the hardcore machinery in use aboard. The real stuff is the findings that can be used to build awareness of the problem at hand, namely, the debris we found in one of the oldest ecosystems on earth.
There will be a press conference at Scripps Institution this Thursday, 27th August. Check it out. http://www.scrippsnews.ucsd.ed. Hopefully Scripps SEAPLEX 1 and the Project Kaisei “Ocean Recovery Alliance” effort are the beginning of more needed scientific trips to the gyre and other places of real concern.
Meanwhile, I go about my first day back noticing how many things we use and throw out that are made with non-biodegradable materials. It simply does not add up. My psyche is reset. Truth is, in this re-entry period, I am going through withdrawal. I miss everyone on board. I miss it the being there and being a part of something so important. I just want to make a difference. I hope nothing will be the same.
And, I may have a real hangover tomorrow. Where are my virtual cocktail party boys when I need them?
Beam me up!
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