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Lions Roar : January 2017
HEATHERLYNMANN 24 nautical miles north of St. Thomas, USVI IT’S DAWN AND I AM ALONE at the helm of the Wild Hair. The lights of St. Thomas sparkle gold and red in a flat, wide cluster. I am uneasy because I don’t fit in with ordinary society anymore. The ocean made me different. It beat and bullied me, teased and seduced me, shouted and whispered and altogether exhausted me until I cracked open, let go, and began appreciat- ing not patterns in the wilderness but the ultimate formlessness, unknowability, and impermanence of the sea (and everything else in the universe for that matter). I’m completely and utterly ruined for good company, maladapted to be with anyone who actually believes what they see, feel, and think and who depends on things to continue as they are. People who expect the sweet spot of their world to last for- ever make themselves miserable. Rather than surfing waves of becoming and ceasing, they cling to their preferences and experience epic loss when conditions inevitably change. They trust their perceptions absolutely and find fault when life shifts. They spin stories, assign blame, and develop prejudices. They expend vast resources resisting change and build large militar- ies to make war. Before the Great Atlantic Teacher hammered the lesson of impermanence deep into me, I was someone who clung to my perceptions and preferences like battle flags. I can’t be like that anymore. In the past few weeks I’ve seen weather forecasts turn on a dime; the wind direction endlessly clock north-south-north; our bodies injured and well, filthy and clean, sleepy and awake; and a joyous holiday turn to heartbreak. Storms blew over. Wild Hair zig-zagged between soundness and breakdowns, and sails trimmed perfectly became dangerous. On this voyage, my husband, Dave, and I have been both alone and together with family. And all the while, waves of emotion—from happiness to mutinous anger to transcendent endurance—rebounded between my heart and mind. I felt as if The Great Atlantic Teacher HEATHER LYN MANN surrenders to the ever-changing ocean, and impermanence itself. From Ocean of Insight: A Sailor’s Voyage from Despair to Hope, by Heather Lyn Mann © 2016. Published by Parallax Press. The Wild Hair is the boat Heather Lyn Mann and her husband, Dave, sailed during their life-changing ocean adventure. HOT OFF THE PRESS LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2017 71