I just killed a boat. I didn't want to, I had to. She was heartbroken, abused, squandered, ruined. I didn't ask to be her killer, her destroyer. Once this merry cruiser sailed the Great Lakes, a pleasure to her people. Then confusion and galling family flippancy, and she was forgotten at the edge of the forest, exposed to the elements and wild creatures. Years passing. She called to me for an ending. She brought me to her, made her my responsibility: to kill her properly, rip her apart bow to stern, marvel at her robust construction. Even waterlogged and rotting, she was tough to take apart.
She asked me to do this thing, this killing. I think because I am a sailor, because I have the water within. I could understand her, see her. Ask her for forgiveness. Forgiveness for everyone who disregarded her, let her down. She must have been so fine in her prime.
Alex and I salvaged what we could — bronze and brass fittings, hobbit-size porcelain sink and loo, a white gas cookstove. Then I set upon her with a skid loader, driving the forks deep into her flanks, slashing sideways and opening up ragged gashes, breaching her hull. Fragments of fiberglass veneer dropping into the dirt. Growling fierce hydraulics tearing splintered timbers of exotic tropical hardwood, harvested before I was born.
Pulling off her stern in one great hunk. Shredding her sides right down to her curving keel. A keel which had to be dragged out of the crib, having defeated the lifting capacity of the skid loader with over 2,300 pounds of lead alloy ballast. Then Jim showed up, and the three of us spent hours wrenching dense metal bricks from an ingenious interlocking entanglement. Finally, just Alex and I were pulling the last of the lead free and dropping her spine into the dumpster, spiky with bent and sheered fasteners.
A violent ending needed, requested. A brave finish for a brave little beauty.
I speak of this to celebrate her and remember her for as long as podcasts are heard, for now you know that she was, and how she passed. Her name was Mai Toy, a silly name perhaps, but hardly a silly story.
Also, I want to tell you about the quality of the killing. To say something about how I gave myself to the doing of this favor, this sacred act. Because we've been talking about bliss and how struggle isn't. Bliss. Struggle isn't bliss. Unless it is.
When we discussed dreams coming true in 110, I emphasized the efficacy of bright imagination over hard work. Bringing desires into being by feeling fine in contrast to elbow grease, noses to the grindstone, effort. There’s a caveat, tho. Hard work works when we love working. When we struggle purely for the struggle, reveling in our resilience, our endurance, in the flow of our competence and power, then struggle throws off sparks, lightning bolts and rainbows. When hard work feels great, we’re calling miracles just as robustly as when we just feel great for no apparent reason, doing absolutely nothing.
This killing was like that. At first I felt angry. I hated what had been done to her, how she had been squandered. The time, energy, and resources expended to build her so strong, all ending up as landfill.
This fierce feeling had a flip side. Who else besides me could both rend and appreciate her? Who could do the awful work with wonder and reverence? She was finished, she needed a way out, she needed a friend to help her along. I was that friend, her last friend.
Yes, the work was strenuous and emotionally challenging, but I also felt intrigued, engaged, and glad. The request to unmake her was a confirmation of my own significance, my worth. A perfect rendezvous.
So that's a story about effective action. Action for action's sake, whether powered by strange passions or merely a magical tingle. Satisfying the body's yearning to push and pull. Fluid problem-solving with amped-up perception. Falling in love with presence. Answering the call of mystery.
Feeling good comes in so many flavors. That's the trick isn't it? Deciding what's pain and what's pleasure, whether or not what we are experiencing is what we want. Explore this deeply and we might decide that everything feels good.
That's Daughter of Godcast Episode 112, Her. The twilight of Season Three, Summer Vacation. Dipping down into the 40s and 50s in Northern Michigan now, with big blustery winds and the trees starting to seriously color. I'm feeling like I still have a little to say about bliss and action, what completion feels like, how to keep a spark of summer inside always. Logistics to handle before we start sprinting out the last few months before Daughter of God. Appreciation for this podcast, for you who participate, for this reason to write and record. Boats are beings, too. We are all in this together.