It’s sugarcane cutting season in Fiji and the air is crisp and cool and perfect, like it always is in that space between seasons. I sleep beneath a wool blanket and wake up to a spastic symphony of birds singing  against a hot pink sky, and the splashing swarm of a bait ball beneath my boat.

Home is where the water is. 

There is mold in my maple syrup, but I’m eating it anyway. Maybe it will alter my gaze. I realized that I’m a gazer. I’m always water-gazing or cloud-gazing or hermit-crab gazing or flower-gazing or people-gazing or fish-gazing or stargazing. And there is always seaweed in my hair. And I smell like fish too because all I take are bird baths in the cockpit. And most of the time I’m barefooted. I reckon that each passing day on the water makes me infinitely closer to growing fins and falling in deep with the mermen, or the bird-men, or the beautiful Fijian son-of-a-chief men. 

The other night I was laying on the boom beneath the Milky Way. I wish you had been there with me. Like a caterpillar, cocooned, close to heaven. Watching the meteor shower. Glowing space rocks flying, streaking, fading, with the same frequency that a wave forms in the ocean. And just before twilight, while space was still falling and the spirit gates were opening, I realized that one aspect of my life was out of balance. That my moments of pleasure did not outweigh my moments of pain. That I wasn’t being me and that it was time to set fire to my paper moon, because it was screaming at me a lot, and trying to control me, and making me cry.

So I let Jesus take the wheel, and the lighter, and the gasoline, and the fire extinguisher, just in case. I told him when he was done flaming down my paper moon to turn me in whatever direction I needed to turn, so long as he kept my life surreal and wild and in alignment. I told him that I hoped I would feel like gold dust afterwards and that it would be a real blessing if for once the sky would rain flowers.

Now I’m in the midst of a metamorphosis and I’m being rocked all the way down to my roots and I can’t see any gold dust yet. Sometimes I miss my paper moon. Sometimes I’m glad it’s not in my sky. Sometimes I’m shattered. Sometimes I’ve never felt more alive. And you know how a wave can push and pull and twirl you into a wet tumble? That’s what it feels like. I’m floundering around- crying, dancing, gasping- trying to find the joy within this transition. 

I must trust my gut and stay loose and liquified. I must remember that what comes is better than what came before. I must let go and ride this new wave- what can a wave hurt, it’s only water after all. 

What else can I tell you? While looking for iguanas, that are an arms-length long, on an uninhabited island, I got stung by a Jurassic ant on my big toe. Oh the flame! Not even the ocean could soothe me. 

I went octopus hunting with my jellyfish-finding and sea cucumber-collecting friend, Jonah. He was about to kill one mothership of an octopus, but my face was so contorted with turmoil that he let it go. It expelled three ink clouds then camouflaged into coral. I feel so much guilt over seeing it that I find it hard to sleep and sit up straight. 

I’ve spent eight hours this week filming hermit crabs. I went scuba diving at a spot called The Super Market that’s filled with sharks. And another spot called The Camel Hump that’s filled with pink moon jellyfish. 

I’m taking kiteboarding lessons. I have a new friend that kites down big waves.  She’s a peach, and she inspires me with her fearless light, and sometimes she and I go into a bathroom just so she can sing opera into a space that echoes. When she watches me interact with creatures she says things like, “You talk to frogs and now you’ve bloody chatted up a hermit crab, that’s freaking brilliant mate!” 

I discovered that I’m not the only sailor who sometimes spies on other sailors; binoculars, VHF, you name it. Life in the sailing community is lived in the open air, and everybody knows everything, and sees everything, and I don’t care. Gossip flies, mouths drop, everyone is exposed inside their shells. 

I almost lost my steering cable thanks to immense pressure and a bad fiberglass repair. And I had a leak in my closet that was the height of attraction for a colony of bugs. When I investigated the leak further it led me to discover a chainplate that was so bent and broken it’s a wonder that my mast is still standing. 

I’m obsessed with the miracle of the sun. It’s the most magnificent. I want to solar power everything in my life. Sometimes I just stare at my new solar panels and fondly watch my battery voltage rise as one would watch a pet that does cute little tricks in exchange for treats. I’ve got so much power now that I could run a fleet of robots.

The sun, the sun, bless the sun. 

I convinced ten people at anchorage to join me on a hike from island to island. They asked, “How long will it take.” And I said, “As long as it takes.” How can one say with any certainty how long anything will take? At the top of the ridge line the views were unreal. And we saw passionfruit flowers, and touch-me-nots (a.k.a pick pick pokie), and praying mantises. We hiked through tall grass that reached five feet over our heads, and scratched our legs, and made us feel like insects. And when the wind blew, the grass hid ourselves from ourselves and all we heard were each other’s voices. We slipped and tripped and laughed all over the place. We talked about the beauty in a pod of dolphins. And between islands we walked through saltwater that came up to our hips. It took four hours to make it from one island to the next. We arrived wet with all of our bells jingling.

My mom had a nightmare about me, but she can’t tell me about it because she’s superstitious. She also makes me spit every time a black cat crosses my path and if I spill the salt on the table I must shake it over my shoulder. I wonder what dream she dreamt? The other day I dreamt that a boat was sinking and I couldn’t save it. There is a nomadic seafaring tribe in Thailand that believes a dream about a boat sinking means that someone or something is going to die. Maybe it was warning me about the death of my paper moon. Maybe my mom dreamt that dream too. Good night paper moon, good night, I am forever grateful for your light.


* My underwater meditation classes are live on Alo Moves! The classes are free throughout May in honor of Mental Health Awareness month. Come jump in to the sea and rinse your mind with me!


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4 Replies to “PAPER MOON”

  1. You are one of the best writers I’ve ever read and one of the best humans I’ve ever met. I’m sending you love.

  2. Bless your transition 🙂 Shed that snake skin for something brilliant, smooth and new. We are being called to do so. Not even those in the middle of an ocean can escape the calling apparently haha. Thanks for a great stories.

  3. I was given an octopus from the fish box of a Mauri fisherman on Barrier’s remote (at that time) northwestern coastal region. Anchored in a cove of black rocks, I was planning to sail next day to Suva, in the middle of a winter that hosted all-too-frequent arctic storms that had been battering the NZ coast. There were no storms predicted for the next day . . . but the day after it would be Force 9. At least I’d be a hundred miles from any land by then. When I heard the motor, I was sure that I was hearing things. Impossible . . . . The small fishing boat slowed next to mine and then circled me once, then came along side. Without a word, the fisherman left the helm, walked around to the starboard side, lifted the lid on a fish box and turned and presented me with a live octopus. I was stunned. I took the gift, nodded thanks. He didn’t utter a sound nor acknowledge my gesture but returned to the helm and slowly continued on his course. I was leaving NZ with 6 NZ pennies to my name and the octopus would become food. I’ve learned much about the octopus since then and every day I whisper an apology hoping that it understands how sorry I am.

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