Ocean of Insight|
A Sailor's Voyage from Despair to Hope
Heather Lyn Mann
Parallax Press, 2016, PB, 304 pp, $18.95
Heather Lyn Man, an environmental activist in Wisconsin, is struggling with the issue of climate change, and how she can aid "the suffering earth". In this memoir of her six year journey with her husband Dave and their cat, Dinghy, aboard their 44' sloop, Wild Hair, she depends on her "Great Atlantic Teacher" in her meditations on mindfulness.
The first chapter is a harrowing tale of disaster. In a storm with the ship's engine down and anchors dragging Heather is calculating time till impact with shore. You can feel the ocean pummeling the ship and her panic. In this way Heather writes her beautiful descriptions of their travels, as well as what she learns from them. As a Buddhist she internalizes each experience and reflects upon them later. Throughout the book she shares meditations she has written about these experiences.
Mann's inner turmoil with climate change is scattered throughout the book. She sees the evidence in the falling water levels in Florida channels, the islands that are shrinking, and the dying fishing industries. She worries for the future of her children and of humanity. This book is as much an appeal for us to protect the planet as it is a tale of adventures on the sea.
The voyage from despair to hope is suspenseful, funny, and enlightening. The couple deals with a pirate scare, a near collision, sinking ships, seasickness and illness, lack of sleep and auditory visits from dead relatives. Heather is transformed by the ocean's lessons. The impermanence of the moment leads her to find fearlessness, balance and happiness.
After six years on ocean the "Great Atlantic Teacher" sends Mann back to shore with her most powerful lesson. Mann writes "I should return to my life on land with a beginner's mind. Rather than believing in only a limited set of possibilities for myself...Of course I will slip into forgetfulness from time to time, but it will be hard to forget altogether this instruction from the Great Atlantic Teacher".