Friday, June 17, 2022

Hilton Head Island: out of control; extraordinary numbers; a five year plan


I am sitting by our oversized bedroom window.  Too hot to be on the porch.  A monochrome night.

After posting the photos last night I realized that one evening I should take photos at ten or fifteen minute intervals from the same position to show the changing of the light in sky and water and sometime I will.

Climate change is undeniable and totally out of control.

I checked back and see that I Ubered to a supermarket and nearby liquor store last Monday.  Five days ago when I bought three bottles of Laphroaig.  

This evening I find one of those bottles empty.  Clearly evaporation.  Surely I did not drink it myself.  

I am a freak of nature.  You know that, but it is quantifiable, and I like to quantify what can be.  The brain of a scientist in the body of an athlete with the soul of a poet.  I note the arrogance of that, but hell I have lived it.

I say that with limited pride because I know I am flawed and a creature of chance, except I take some probably unwarranted satisfaction in having gone the distance with the gifts I was given.

Of the extraordinary numbers, I googled what percentage of 80 year old Americans take no medications.

This was beyond Google so I got what percentage of Americans over 65 take prescribed medications.  The number is 89%.  And half of those 65 or over take four or more medications.

As perhaps you know I take none.

I do naturally most of the things one ought to do.  I don’t eat much.  I don’t eat much red meat.  I am almost a vegetarian.  Not by principle, but preference.  That is self-regulating.  My  body is uncomfortable when I eat too much as when traveling and eating in hotels and restaurants which provide far too large servings for me, though presumably not for most of their customers.

I use my body hard.  I always have.  Unlike almost all except those in the military and some police and rescue services, I have needed my body to survive in extreme situations.  But beyond that my body wants to be used hard.  That is the animal I am.  What I was born to be. 

Now I have some bad news.  No matter how much you continue to use your body, time and gravity will prevail.

In the right clothes I still look pretty good.  My weight is what it was fifty years ago.  But when I do my push-ups my gut sags.  My skin has lost elasticity.  And there are too many scars.

I drink far more than doctors recommend.

I am 80 and in better health than the doctors, and as I have written here before if drinking shortens my life, it will have made what life I have had much more endurable.

I have done my workouts this week.  I have even extended them.  The standard workout Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  The weight workout Tuesday and Thursday.  And I pushed all beyond the usual numbers.  Tomorrow I will do the resistance bands.  But it is not enough and the heat here prevents me from doing more.  My body wants more.

The other extraordinary number is that of the stars in the universe.

I saw an article about achieving immortality, which none of us deserve and would be a total disaster.  As I have written, that we have so little time is our dignity.  If you don’t understand that, well, I can’t help you.

The number of stars in the universe is truly beyond comprehension.  We have no comparison for such a number.

I became curious by wondering about other semi-intelligent life forms.  

On our planet there is limited intelligent life as is continuously proven by reading or watching what poses as the news.

So how many stars are there around which there might be planets to support life of whatever intelligence.

The answer is absolutely astounding.  There are approximately 200 billion trillion stars in the universe. Or, to put it another way, 200 sextillion.

That’s 200,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!

That semi-intelligent life only evolved on this planet is beyond belief.  Actual intelligent life has probably evolved on many.  It might eventually even evolve on this one.  But because the universe is expanding we may never know one another.  

I have sought understanding and not found it.  I don’t know what is going on.

As a young man I decided there were two possibilities.  One, our brains have not evolved in a manner to understand.  We evolved so that a few of us are good at figuring out how, but not why.  There may be information we just can’t know such as dogs being able to hear sounds beyond our frequency.  

The other possibility is that the age of science is brief.  Only a few hundred years, and in time answers will come.

I and all of you will have to live with uncertainty.

Of uncertainty, I believe I have finally figured out the dying part of my life.

It has taken three years.  Well, it is an unusual problem and as often in my life there were no precedents so I had to figure it out for myself by myself.

I have made a five year plan.  

Audacious for an eighty year old.

I have twice before made five year plans to escape the land.

One leading to my first circumnavigation.  

The second with Carol to sail from Boston in 2001.

I stuck to both,  Both were successful.

Now I don’t want to escape from the land.  I like the land I am in.  You know that I live in serenity and beauty.

At this moment rain is falling.  Lightening flashes.

I am not going to tell you the plan.  I don’t even know when I will tell Carol.

I will not mind if time and chance intervene and prevent this one and I die one night peacefully in my sleep.  Somehow I don’t think it will be that easy.  It must have hurt getting in here, even if we don’t remember, and I expect it is going to hurt getting out.  I sit here certain that I have already done enough to repay the genetic gifts I was given.  And I sit here knowing that if I can I will do more.

So if what I write mostly does not interest you—though I may be a legendary sailor, I am interested in more than the sea—come back in 2027.  It is unlikely that your attention span is that long.  Mine is.  And if in 2027 I am still here and still strong, you will be startled.



Anonymous said...

You sound more and more like an inebriated pompous old man.

Webb said...

I sometimes think so too.

The solution is easy: don’t read any more of my words.

I have written that life is only forty years long. If you are interested enough you can google and perhaps find the post.

By that I mean that almost all of value and interest created by our species has been done by those between twenty and sixty. You can stretch the years for five or so and the truth remains.

At eighty I am trying to extend those years by a significant number.

I accept that I may, like many old men, be delusional in not accepting that my life is over.

But I did make the voyages. I did write the words. I did love the women.

It is an accepted point of law that one is entitled to be judged by his or her peers.

Are you my peer? You are anonymous. I am not. What are your accomplishments that equal mine?

And if you are eighty what do you still plan to do, other than be meat waiting for time and chance to dispose of you?

And if you are not eighty, remember this exchange when you are and ask yourself if you are my equal.

If you can truthfully answer to yourself ‘yes’ I truly admire you.

If not, fuck off.

floyd byerly said...

I look forward to your writing and enjoy your adventures and hope you continue for many more years. I wonder if you might enjoy kayaking! Advantages over sailing: less expensive, not dependent on wind, less equipment to maintain, certainly better exercise, and there is much to explore in the natural world in your area. Although it is not the "monasty of the sea" it is generally not busy on the water, and one can certainly get solitude and the enjoyment of exploring...

Tom said...

Webb, I have followed your blog for more years than I can recall. (We have exchanged comments before- when you first acquired hearing aids). Your Blog-post musings about the process of ageing always provide huge food for thought.A mere decade younger,still fit and more able than many my age,I have always enjoyed following passions and challenges. Puzzling what the next decade will bring I muse often: while living through another decade I should still be seen to 'deliver' by example for the benefit of others. Inevitably someone of 70 may begin to "rail" at the slipping away of ability, strengths, enthusiasms and natural "gifts" which used to serve them so well, but now require greater persistence to operate,to achieve outcomes once taken for granted. At age of 80 your experience out in front certainly helps. Put simply, the lovely adage:'the impossible we do at once..miracles take a little longer' is fine guiding principle when confronted by some challenge or task that requires ever greater resilience. Yet from my viewpoint, where the will exists, age alone need present no barrier.(Last year I sailed 800 miles, solo due to Covid restrictions, just to bring a veteran boat home.)
Others anticipate decades of life ahead of them,they have much they are destined yet to find out about.
For those interested, you remain 'out there' testing standard presumptions, exploring boundaries and sending back thorough, thought-provoking reports. Long may this continue.

Timothy Hazlett said...

It sucks that anonymous a-holes can troll and make stupid remarks like that. Your response is surprise there.

Ron said...

I second Timothy’s response. I never comment but I always read what you have to say. Others may make make rude unmannered comments, there is always one jealous envious soul and they should be pitied before being deposited in the the trash bin of yesterday and ignored.

kaimusailing said...

Ahoy Cap'n Webb,
I was lucky to have met you and enjoy your conversation. As Louise said, "He seems like an ordinary regular guy until he starts talking about his adventures." Radio Bill is almost to Portugal. Just a regular ordinary transatlantic.
Artists don't always understand what they are doing is something exceptional.
Keep on keepin on.