Saturday, February 23, 2013

In Loving Memory...


February 23, 2013

Yet another sea day today which results in more editing.  I’m still working on the fourth episode, and am sadly uninspired with my edit.  I had a good meeting this evening, that will help me finish up by 17:00 tomorrow when it's due.

One thing about ship-life is the lack of decent working space.  I’ve found that if I edit in our room, I'm terribly distracted by having internet, visitors, snacks and looping Disney films.  I've found that if I edit in the co-working closet that we call The Eagle's Nest, I'm saddened by a lack of internet, but strangely focused, however extremely down by the end of 8 hours of an enclosed, rocking space.  The editing is better, but my mood is worse.

I can't complain about it because of how flipping awesome this trip has been and is going to be, and also because of what amazing experiences I've had and will have.  I can handle a little grumpy post-production with the epic shooting that goes with it.  I hope you guys like episode four!

While editing, there was an announcement over the intercom that there would be a memorial service held in the Union for one of the professors that was teaching on the ship who had passed away in Shanghai, China.  I didn't want to post about it when it happened out of respect for his family, but I really want to talk about the memorial service because it was truly moving for me.

A professor and his wife were both teaching on the ship, and on their way back from a field lab in Shanghai, he had a heart attack on the bus and passed away.  His wife decided soon after that she would accompany the ashes back to the United States where they would have a funeral with her and his family, and then that she would come back to the ship to finish the voyage.  I can't even believe she came back.  I would be a sobbing pile, and I'm not sure I'd ever want "Semester at Sea" mentioned again.

However, as was made clear during the memorial service, we've built an amazing community aboard this ship, and it's like coming back to a new family.  This family had gone through the loss with her - not at the same level, of course - but had literally experienced it as it happened, and that made this a place of comfort.

The service was led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and hundreds of people showed up to honor the professor.  Scripture, poems and quotes were read.  Arch delivered a wonderful message.  He started out by having us focus on the change that has happened within us.  We live in a world of go, go, go, and we are all "go" people, yet we sit on a ship and allow the nine days that it will take to arrive at a port enjoying the journey and the people along the way.  A journey that could take a few hours on a plane outside of this ship-world. We're not sitting and biting our nails wondering when we'll arrive in Japan or thinking how much quicker we could get there.  We've made our journey around the world a part of the adventure. (My words.)

He talked about love.  Ending with a message of Immanuel.  Entering our pain. Wiping away our tears and embracing us with the words, "I love you."  He ended the message by whispering, "I love you," over and over.  It was pretty powerful.

Arch has a pretty good sense of humor.
This is a photo op turned silly with Matt and I.
After Amazing Grace was played by two students on the piano and a saxophone, he said into the mic, "The proper response is 'Hallelujah and Amen.'"  The students quietly repeated it.  He stopped in his tracks, put down his arms and said, "Well, that was not very enthusiastic.  How about give me some oomph?"  And the students belted it out.  The wife of the late professor looked so pleased with the whole memorial service.

He then closed the time with an ending in his native tongue.  It was beautiful.

At this time, we all processed out to the very back of the ship where there was a receiving line to give her and her brother, who joined the ship when she returned, a hug and some kind words.  Then, students were able to throw roses off the back of the ship.  The entire three back decks were full of students, and the captain was taking the ship in a giant infinity pattern.  Riding along on the back deck as the ship groaned into the massive figure eight was a humbling moment.  You could see our curved trail behind us, and the ship turned so sharply that the water inside of the wake was almost completely smooth, and the water outside the wake was rough and choppy.  It gave the infinity symbol a surreal permanence as we drifted around.  Roses floated by as the ship crossed its path, and we all watched the pink sunset together.

Our curved trail.  I wish I had panorama view to show you.
As I watched a single rose float by four stories down, I realized how small the little flower was in the ocean and imagined it being swallowed up in a storm 50 miles away.  I felt introspective and peaceful, and I thought about the losses I've experienced in my life.  I thought of the people that I remember so alive, and then thought of how sad I am that they are no longer with us.  Staring down at the dark water, I thought about my life's work and what would be ahead for me, and I thought about how I wanted to look back on this moment at one point in my life and smile at the peacefulness that I had felt. I thought about how much I love Matt, and how badly I don't want to lose him.  I thought about my family, and how excited I am that we'll be coming home in a couple months.

The students on the 7th deck watching the sunset
spin around us as the ship made its figure 8.
Then, I came into the present, and I realized how crazy it is to be staring at roses floating in the middle of the ocean in warm, humid air as I sail to a country on the opposite side of the world from my home.  I remember wanting to be a veterinarian, then a marine biologist, then some sort of scientist or engineer, then meeting the love of my life and falling in love with his craft, which led me to film school to meet the people who got me this job, that led me to this ship.  What a crazy journey this life is.

Well, I've got to head to bed.  It'll be an early morning tomorrow to finish my episode and feel good about it before 5pm.

To all of you reading this post, I hope you do something a little bit unreasonable in your life.  I hope you get out of your comfort zone this week and try that new food, or ask out that handsome person, or take the day off and call that family member or friend you've been neglecting.  Live in the moments you're given and live just on the edge of contentment.

And remember: I love you!  Over and out.