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July 19th, 2006

The Doldrums

I feel like a ship's officer, commissioned to command some part of our vessel, known for supporting the captain's orders, perhaps as ship's physician.  But our creaky, wooden vessel is stuck in the doldrums and there is nothing to do other than lean over the edge of the deck, stare down into the light, blue water and peer out across the vast, placid sea.  Our sails are kept undrawn incase an unexpected wind changes our course, but I realize that such a hopeful wind would change the sea before filling our sails.  So I routinely scan the sea's edge for waves, more to make the crew feel that something is being done rather than nothing.  It's a meaningless routine because we rest on the sea's mercy, not anyone's ability to capture the wave in their scope.  This realization, this impotency of a skilled crew, commanded by officer's commissioned by a land confident in our ability to sail the seas -- the realization of our arrogance in believing that we could stay on corse -- leaves me as a zombie.  I lurk around the deck, fulfilling any sparse order now given by the captain and performing duties the crew expect to see.  I listen to a mate complain about the retching pain in his stomach.  He lifts up his shirt, I press my hand against his swollen abdomen yet I can do nothing other than lie about his recovery because we exhausted our supply of herbs days ago.  Or maybe it was a week ago.  The captain keeps record of when the wind left our sail but I care less about how long it has been; I care most about when it will return.  In these doldrums, my commission has been reduced to survival, and often that instinct flounders in despair.  This sea has reduced me to wondering why I ever ventured so far from land.