Neil Coppen

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Letter from a Shipwrecked Sailor- Final thoughts for 2007

January6

Fine place to be at the closing of the year- Haunchaco in Northern Peru. Spanish ballads aching from a beach bar stereo, beer bottle perspiring in the sunshine, the Pacific rolling on in. I’m levitating. Maybe its the bubbles on a empty stomach, maybe its not being on a twenty four hour bus, corn bites crammed between white bread for sustenance or freezing and soaked to the bone out on in the Andes.

The familiarity of a sea front, golden torsos, strutting chicas, tatty umbrellas. The delighted shrieks of bathers when toes first reach water. While I consider myself a proud son of the Indian (and to her will always owe allegiance) for now the Pacific and her frosty reception, will just have to do. I shall sit here and watch the sun sink on an old year, sit with my sea view, drink beer till my belly grows and I can call it hereditary. I shall make a toast, take a sip for each of those I love-I will be parralletic in no time.

I shall smoke cigarettes under the pretense I wont tomorrow. Make a resolution or two ,for the guilty pleasure of breaking them. Mull over moments that resurfaced on a four day trek in the Andes. Where so alone and stuck with old thoughts was I, that I was forced to excavate new ones. Something to take the mind off cumbersome back pack and blistering heels. Pain a sure way to pop creative boils. Considering that 90 percent of writing is the thinking of it, I have had ample time to re-wire, re-work, re think characters and stories. Characters previously destined to fill the mass grave of my aborted imaginings.

They must break free, live their own god damn lives. That or stay trapped (to taunt and torture) in this the limited cell of my corpus coliseum (whatever part of the brain it is that houses such maniacs). It seems that every one is in the habit of having babies at the moment. Hell, in 2008 I might just consider popping some puppies of my own. I am grateful for this time, this sea side sunset to offer up my final meditation /masturbation for 2007.

I had a surf earlier, took a step for the first time off the edge off the edge of this continent. Funny that- for this sensation- I call myself a surfer but must confess, for the moment I am more bobber, content to let the element free feet from rock, concrete, carpet or slipper.I’m drunk now, writing this in the final hours of 2007 . This letter, idea, essay will be ill formed, poorly put. Forgive me for ending the year with poor piece of writing, for this i can find no excuse except the beer.

I have rediscovered solitude and am beginning to learn that it is more of a distant relation then close companion to that which we know as loneliness.I have experienced both and more often then not confused the two (one need not go to the expense of purchasing a ticket to South America to enable such discovery) .It has been a book by Marquez ,not 100 Years Of Solitude but a journalistic account titled The Tale of a Shipwrecked Sailor which has assisted me in exploring this little revelation/tangent.

In the account (a true story) a Colombian Sailor is tossed over board from his vessel into the Caribbean sea . Here he spends ten days adrift on a sinking raft, to fend of sharks, hunger and thirst until eventually washing up on shore to find himself declared a national hero. The similarities I have with this Sailor and his predicament are of course none. My cast away status being entirely self inflicted and savoured, my daily tribulation, incomparable to the horrors and struggles he faced drifting out over that indifferent expanse ( I have gone hungry but not yet had to feed off seagulls) Yet however desultory, adrift, lost I might have felt there is always a shore in sight, and if not in sight then just over the horizon.

Solitude then is a voluntary state, life with ones anchor optionally raised- bobbing, drifting call it what you will but loneliness, that is akin to days without water. A thirst with no end , a thirst that causes the sailor of Marquez’s story to sate and further exacerbate his need with salt water. There is wisdom in solitude (And yes self absorption, the danger of crawling entirely up ones own arse,as i might be doing now) but emptiness in loneliness. The sailor says he never feels lonely as long as he can remember there are people who refuse to bury him, refuse to think him dead until proven so. The minute he forgets this, these beacons- he hopes for a quick death.

Hope I have bundles of, solitude with an end in sight. A southern tip, sea side village on the East Coast (and west). Inhabited by people who I love, aspire to. A welcome end to wondering. I need not travel to escape then (like so many I meet) rather travel to return. And its not the cushy suburb, my six nippled staffie (who i miss terribly) that I long for. The generous space, who my folks- despite my ripe age- have housed me in and thus afford such a time away. Its not that, for quite content am I with cold shower, rusty springed bed, room enough to stack my books and tuna fish. Luxury for the moment is distance and draft enough to hang hiking socks without causing neighbours (or self for that matter) offense. It is the people, their quality, my tribe that populate such hope. People capable of solitude in their own spaces, capable of self criticism, who know how much to there is to know and fear knowledge for that very reason. People who see the world for the miraculous, tyrannical,mystical, mechanical, magical place it is. People like you.

I’m losing time, as I write the light is low , the waves all rolling and misty in the bay, dusk the brief respite before night, before morning, then boom a new day, year ,when we (some) rise with throbbing heads and wonder where it all went. So for brevity (and lights) sake, I shall be brief. May each day be a resolution.Know thyself , said (was it?) Thiresieus to Oedipus. I have only just started to re acquaint with my twin and it has been agreed, on this eve, that we might be able to work toward a common future (and even possibly grow to like one another)

There she goes, gathering up the last of her golden trail. Going… Going… Gone

Here’s to a year of other halves- in self and others

It is dark and can no longer see the page.

To solitude and never Loneliness

Now is Yesterday

Happy New year

much love

A shipwerecked sailor

bobbing an loving it

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