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SEA Currents: SSV Robert C. Seamans
The Importance of Getting Lost
Leigh Marine Laboratory
Here in Leigh it feels like we’re at a soul-searching meditative retreat. We wake up to birds singing their happy songs and sunshine reflecting off of the beautiful blue ocean. Platters of fruit sprawl in front of us and the chef prepares us fibrous meals full of kale and other green vegetables. I find myself smiling when I think of the contrast between this place and the ship we had called home for the last six weeks.
Today I, along with Erin, Meredith, and Rachel, found myself tromping around in the middle of a field full of cows. This was after we had decided we didn’t want to get to town by taking the road. We channelled Robert Frost and decided to take the road not taken—literally, we walked through farm fields instead. It was a beautiful spring day in Leigh, New Zealand, full of sunshine and cow piles.
After five miles of hopping over fences and asking ourselves if it was even worth it to go to Leigh, a quiet town of only 390 people, we finally made it to the small general store in the middle of town. We each dished out $2.90 for a scoop of ice cream and collapsed on a grassy hill. By the time we had gotten back to the marine lab, we had walked a total of 10.5 miles, all for a scoop of ice cream.
But it was more than just a scoop of ice cream that kept us walking, despite getting lost and muddy and impatient. We were all silently aware of the fact that by choosing to not take the road, we were freeing ourselves from the confines of conformity—an idea we had become familiar with over the last weeks at sea. I found comfort in the fact that we were experiencing things that were rather exceptional. I mean, we had decided to do SEA Semester, a rather unique program within itself.
As this journey comes to an end, I can’t help but acknowledge the spark that this program has left within me to pursue new adventures and see more exceptional places. It has also left me with an innate awareness for the earth around me that I had never felt before—reminding me of an excerpt from a Mary Oliver poem I once read. I’ll leave it here, and allow myself to go and consider what I want my response to be to earth’s most imminent questions.
“And that is just the point... how the world, moist and beautiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That's the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. "Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?”