Don’t let go of that thread…

what ships are built for

The Way It Is

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

By William Stafford, from The Way It Is, 1998

Besides my creative life (which keeps me sane and relevant to myself) there is only Kris, really. Everything and everyone else can fall away and I might suffer a period of regret or pain or loss, but I would get over it quicker and with less trauma than you’d expect, because he stands opposite the sorrow, and balances me out. He is my ball of thread: that wonderful fairytale device that the heroine lets unwind before her, and that leads her through the world. I was an insufferable goose when he met me…I owe him for who I am today. He gave me both the space I needed to open fully, and a scrupulously honest mirror with which to see myself. And because I wanted so much to be worthy of him, I pushed to go beyond the garden-variety mediocrity of my early self.

Today he set sail for South Africa…a dream that’s been in the works for two years. When he gets there, and as soon as I’ve tied up a few of my loose ends here (two exhibitions, and my citizenship, basically), I will fly to catch up with him in either Durban or Brazil (depends on how long my loose ends take).

So my lover, my greatest teacher and my best friend all left together on one sailboat. The ball of thread is out of sight, and stretching ominously. The pull to be with him is tremendous. Things that I thought were important, last month, or felt I couldn’t possibly leave undone, suddenly seem like so much insignificant mucking around. Over the next few months I will slowly cut myself free of the ties here, and let him reel me in.

I didn’t get any pictures of Kris leaving, this time, so have re-used some shots from two years ago, taken the morning he left for S.E.Asia (he was gone four months).

swallowed by the fog

He was intentionally vague about his departure…didn’t want any parties, last minute well-wishers, or the generally curious trying to catch up for one last handshake, lame joke, or to ask the same dozen questions he has answered, over and over again, since he first built his steel Chinese-junk-rigged sailboat and started sailing around without the usual engine, GPS, EPIRB, digital charts, radio, solar panels, water-maker, or toilet. As you can imagine, some people find it hard to grapple with that, or with the idea of man at the mercy of the sea and no thing to rely upon but himself. But getting away from mankind is what attracted Kris to sailing, in the first place, and he goes out there to be alone with the great ineffable force that some call The Universe, Being, or God.

On his Monsoon Dervish website, Kris bids you all farewell:

“I’ll be turning 60 later this year. I’ve been working for a living for the past 40 years and I am tired of working. Humans are the only animals who work for a living. All other creatures live for a living. And I still have five years to go till my old age pension. I have decided I am going sailing for those five years. I will live for a living, like all other creatures in the world.”

Bon voyage, my love, and I’ll see you in Durban…or Paraiba!


26 thoughts on “Don’t let go of that thread…

    1. You mean when we are both over there? I can no more refrain from doing something creative than I can refrain from eating now and then 🙂 It’s as basic as breathing, not just something I started when I started this blog.
      Whether I can keep up with the blogging is another matter, and I’ll only know when I get there.


  1. Hi Nat, It’s been a while…read this post (first I’ve read in a while) and your words shot an arrow through my heart, as they usually do. I can relate to the depth of love you speak of. I too have been gifted with such a love in my life. It has altered me for the better and it is my lifeline (which equally frightens the living crap out of me). I have enormous admiration for both you and Chris. As my mother used to say, it take a lot of “piss and vinegar” to stay the course of your dreams. I also think it takes a lot of “piss and vinegar” to let the love of your life sail off into the sunset. Wishing you two brave and beautiful souls happy and safe trails ahead. xo


  2. I have this poem on my About page on my blog, it is wonderful. I don’t really know what my thread is exactly but I am following it somehow. Good luck to you in the days to come, everything changes all the time, but hold onto your thread.


  3. “The Way It Is” was a poem that inspired my blog nearly four years ago, and I return to Stafford’s words in times when I need to check my course. Thanks for sharing your tenderness in this piece. Keep following the Thread!


    1. Stafford’s a wonderful poet…huge ideas in plain language, they pass easily into the heart. There’s something very human, very unpretentious about his work. Thank you for stopping by to comment!


  4. Beautiful – so glad you have these important elements in your life. Each day that passes is one closer to meeting again.


    1. Yes! And the months I have to myself can be filled with my projects and obsessions, so that when we do meet up I’ll have some new stuff to show him and enthuse about. There is always something good about even the most awful situation…I like that I can live like a bachelor, eat crappy food, make a big mess, stay up late, play music loud… 😉


  5. This is so beautifully written, what an incredible story. I’m very moved and as one who has had to endure separation from a beloved I empathise with your feelings. The missing seems endless but it does end. Keep working towards the goal. Good luck with an amazing adventure.


    1. Thank you, it will be huge for me, and not always easy, but then I never expect easy 🙂 (only hope!) In many ways being alone for a while is a great treat…I stay up late, play loud music, eat toast for dinner, and the whole boat is converted into a messy art studio where I don’t have to clean up in consideration of someone else. It’s permission to be selfish without actually annoying another person. 🙂 It’s qctually lots of fun…though after a while it’s the conversations I miss. That and how incredibly organised and efficient he is. LOL


  6. You are such a lucky person to have found someone so special. Good luck with the next part of your journey, and thank you for sharing


    1. Yes, I am! Although in many ways I opened my life, prepared myself, and learned to recognize someone like him…so a lot of it was not luck at all. We changed ourselves, learned to see beyond the superficial, mastered our misgivings, and committed to putting an amazing relationship above all other things. For both of us there was constant surrender involved. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s