Monday, January 24, 2022

Hilton Head Island: ice; perfect design; my immortality; the secret of my success


What looks like broken glass in the above photo is in fact ice.  Yesterday morning the official temperature at the airport three miles away was 28ºF/-2.2C for several hours and rain puddles left on the edge of our deck furniture cover froze.  The temperature rose into the balmy 40s and by early afternoon the water was again liquid.

From Jay comes a link to more serious ice on the Chicago River.  I thank him.

This morning Carol, who is about thirty miles north of downtown Chicago, reported snow and wind chill temperatures of 0F/-18C.  In my official capacity I authorized her to take a snow day and work from home.  I, of course, have no official capacity, but it seems a good idea.

From Erik comes this photo of an elegant bird named after my boat.  What a marvelously efficient and graceful design, both for motion above and below water.  I thank him.

As long time readers know I like to quantify things.  I always have.  In childhood I quantified my ambitions:  I wanted to write something that would last a thousand years, having concluded that if it lasted that long, it would last more or less forever, and I wanted to be loved by one woman.  Well, of the woman I continue to delude myself that I have been loved by more than one.  Or at least liked.  For a while.  Briefly.

Whether I have written anything that will last a thousand years is unlikely, but as I have noted before, ten of my words are going to outlive me.  Does not seem like much for eighty years of struggle and joy and despair, but there you are.  Or rather I am.

Two further examples have appeared this past week.

From Steve Earley.

I wrote back to Steve that I should have copywrited those words, but then if people had to pay to use them they probably wouldn’t.  At least they gave me attribution.  

When I reread what I wrote before sending it I found that autofill had changed ‘attribution’ to ‘retribution’.  Is it possible that algorithms have a sense of humor?

And yesterday Google Alerts notified me that I have been included in ‘75 Ocean Quotes’ in Parade.

This seems to be a descendent of Parade Magazine which was a standard supplement to the Sunday newspaper when I was young.  I did not know it still existed.

As I have observed elsewhere I cling to the remote hope that from time to time in the future someone will read those words and wonder who Webb Chiles was and find and read some of my other words. 

A friend who is about to sail his Bristol 40 from Grenada to Panama recently emailed me.  He mentioned the pressure of time which brings us to the secret of my success which I know has been the cause of wonder to many and is uppermost in your mind.

Of course one might question that I have any success.  By most contemporary social measures: wealth, number of friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, etc.  I have had none.  Carol is an American success story.  I am proud of her.  I am an actual living example of a myth to which Americans give lip service, but in which they believe no more than they do the Easter Bunny.

However, let us ignore reality just as if we were politicians and pretend I am a success.  As I realized when reading my friend’s email, and have often realized before, the secret to my success is that I haven’t done much.  That might seem counter intuitive when considering six circumnavigations, six marriages, and all those published words during the past fifty years.  But I did all those things because of what I didn’t do.  I didn’t have children.  I didn’t have a ‘real’ job.  I didn’t have debts.  I didn’t own a lot of stuff.  And all my time since November 2, 1974–except for the two weeks I was falsely locked up as a spy in Saudi Arabia—has been mine to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it.

So there you have it.  The best advice you are likely to read today.  Or tomorrow.

Go out and do less.


Anonymous said...

"And all my time .......has been mine to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it"

This is true for most of us. The question is do we do what want to do? Or maybe, what do we really want to do?

teddo said...

I think you a "success". Having done what you wanted to is no minor thing.
The artist reporting back can teach and inspire.
I'm grateful for your sharing, many don't, too busy creating next adventures, or too lazy or don't know how, this why your story is precious.
In being original and true so all the more rare, worthy of legendary!

Keep laughing,