Departure

An excerpt from my next book. In draft:


At 12:30 pm, Wednesday, January 30, 1974 we departed. We said our goodbyes all day and the night before. Ted had organized a small farewell party for us at the yacht club. Everyone in our circle was there. Nigel was a no show. No matter. He was not the most affable of guys around here. No one liked him but it was his own fault. He was distant and unfriendly, having an arrogant superiority about him to most of the people that he came in contact with. Many of whom I became acquainted with. For no good reason. I do not understand why he acted in the way that he did.

Big ole Sven, our Swedish yacht buddy, drinking mate, and one of Nigel’s rare buds, came by to say so long and to let our lines go for us. It was a surreal feeling knowing that you will never see these guys, and gals ever again. And I haven’t.

There occurred one incident before we left that had a profound effect on me. It happened just before New Years – that week between the holidays – when nothing of importance is really going on. Akaru-Hime was berthed on the breakwater, bow in and facing the shore, the stern secured to some hard point on the stone breakwater. On one side of me was Skip. On the other was some dude named Peter who I barely knew. He seemed to be out of his depth, nerdy looking, about thirty I would expect. We never really hit it off as friends or neighbours. He kept to himself most of the time other than the odd hello, good morning and small chit chat like that. But one evening he asked if I would accompany him to a meeting in Waikiki. This I did.

He took me down to a small building located on a short side street that bore north off of Kalakaua Avenue down in the Waikiki district of Oahu. There in an upstairs room we met up with about twelve people all of whom appeared to be close associates of Peter. It turned out that Peter was a born again Christian and part of the Jesus movement here in the Hawaiian Islands. This was not surprising to me as the Jesus movement was huge in the early 1970s. I witnessed it first hand in my home town of Toronto where many of the young people I knew, many of whom were juvenile gangsters, petty criminals, drug dealers and users, converted to the movement and became fanatical in their beliefs and their personal conversions. They wanted to share their enlightenment with a non suspecting public with their own personal road to Damascus.  There were many a Saturday night in the parking lot of the local pool hall where I was caught up in their rhetoric and preaching with no escape route in sight. That is not to say I was not a Christian or a believer. No, I was just more subtle with my faith. I was not an in your face kind of guy when it came to spirituality and the supernatural. My relationship with God was a personal one.

Nevertheless, I spent the evening with Peter and his friends singing Psalms and praising the Lord. I was more of an observer than an active participant but I did admire their commitment and tried to be seen as among them as an active colleague of the Lord. I was impressed with their devotion, especially those young men and women, who were not yet worldly or experienced in life. Living on blind faith alone brought them all a sense of peace and wonderment, fulfilment, happiness. My only hope for them was that the burdens of life, of living, of making a living does not undermine their spiritual contentment and positivity with the aura of cynicism and despair that life’s challenges can deliver.

Peter and I left the meeting with a renewed sense of revival, at least for him as I had always been a believer. It seemed to me that these people had to justify their spiritual beliefs, their existential existence in a secular world that shunned them for their beliefs and their faith overtly. The revival meetings became their lifeline from the real danger of backsliding into a world of pleasure and deception. It was that world that many of them knew so well and were keenly frightened of.

We got back to our boats and said goodnight. Nothing more was said. I fell asleep mindful of the evening events. A sense of peace enveloped me. I was content. I was out for the count.

The next morning Peter stopped me before I could leave for my morning routine of coffee, smokes, and “S” square times two.

“Jim…Jim, I hope you enjoyed the meeting last night. I hope we weren’t too presumptuous in our faithful exuberance with you.”

“I did Peter…and no you weren’t. Thank you very much for inviting me.”

“Just one thing Jim.” Peter went on. I had a hard time falling asleep last night so I came back topside for a short spell to clear my mind, rationalize my thoughts.”

I nodded to him

“The strangest thing occurred to me Jim. And I hope you don’t feel ill with me for telling you this as I know how this sounds. But it is the truth, so help me God”

He had my undivided interest now.

“Yeah, go on.”

“While I was sitting there in reflection of the night’s events, a vision enveloped my senses. It came over me, smothered me but more importantly it came over Akaru-Hime. Your boat lit up like a beacon of light. There in the pulpit of your sailboat sat an angel. It or she or he was resplendent in white: a blinding brilliance of righteousness and holiness. It was a guardian angel Jim. I know how this sounds but I swear it to be the truth. I had to tell you.”

“Really?” was about all I could say. I didn’t know what to think.

“I know…I know…I know Jim. I know this sounds crazy but it happened. As God is my witness. He paused for a brief moment to collect his thoughts and then continued. “Then the angel looked directly at me Jim, and smiled, and then looked over your boat. It spread its wings out and then in as if to signal to all of the world…to me…protection. Don’t you see Jim? You and Nigel have nothing to worry about. Akaru-Hime has the protection of the Lord. You will be safe.”

I didn’t know what to say to Peter. All I could do was offer a grin of questionable understanding and acceptance for what he said. It was an uncomfortable moment: for Peter to tell me this and for me to acknowledge his supernatural experience.

“Thanks for that Peter. It is reassuring for sure.”

I looked forward to the pulpit. There was nothing there but the stainless steel guardrails or the pulpit and the boats beyond. Nevertheless, I smiled, nodded my head to whoever may be there unseen except in the spiritual domain.

A sense of security did come over me and I felt extremely happy.

Thank you Peter.

SJ…Out

 

The Fat Lady Has Sung

I am an old fart. No doubt. I have always thought of myself as a people person, non racist. Over the years I have come across many people of all colours and races. My brother in law is Black. My other brother in law is Japanese. I think they are great guys yet if I ever think of criticizing any one of their colour, as in Black Lives Matter, on the same grounds and on the same moral standards as myself, then I am attacked by the progressive crowd and considered a racist, a bigot, intolerant, red neck asshole…too bad but oh so sad…and wrong.

I am a Christian. I am proud of the fact. I am unapologetic about my faith. Yet because of that I am considered as someone who must be absolutely stupid, irrational, imbecile, idiot. How can you even consider something like God as being relevant if you cannot see him or her, or feel their presence, or believe in their incredible legacy of love and salvation for all of us? Well, it is a matter of faith. Something that is lost on so many people these days, especially the Governor General of this great country of ours. Someone who has ridiculed my beliefs only because those beliefs are non scientific in her eyes.

My faith in God has given me moments of sheer joy of being alive and incredible inspiration that I cannot even begin to describe to you. My faith has also helped me get through some very bad times such as the death of my wife and recently my brother. My brother, who was mentally handicapped, was a gift from God himself. He was angelic, had a joyful disposition and an innocence that could have only come from the Almighty. He was blessed and his blessings fell on all of us who knew him. I feel sorry for our Governor General and for all of you out there who lack faith, don’t believe in anything except yourselves or anything that you cannot see or that isn’t secular in nature...too bad and oh so sad. 

I am a patriot. I have served my country for 37 years. I loved it. I am proud of the fact. But in this country so many of my fellow citizens despise the military, the police, any person of authority. Why? Because they lack self discipline and self respect in their own right. We are considered losers by many of our fellow Canadians and especially from our political leadership. Too bad and oh so sad.

I am tolerant. I do not care if you are black or white or gray (grey) for that matter. Everyone is unique. Everyone is wonderful in their own right. Everyone deserves respect. Everyone needs love and should be loved. But when you attach identity labels to yourself and demean me because of the colour of my skin – white is a colour you know – or my beliefs, or my faith and expect me to cow tow to your every need or whim because of mistakes or prejudices of the past then who is the intolerant one here? Yes mistakes and prejudices have been made. In the past. But this is the present. I have faith in the future. Let us move on and not be so damn sensitive to every little thing out there. Unfortunately, as I have seen through some of the feedback I receive from this blog, many of you have lost your sense of humour or sense of fun. In your eyes everything is offensive. And when everything is offensive then nothing is offensive anymore. Fun has become a four letter word. That is too bad and oh so sad.

I am proud of my American friends. One of my very best mentors was an American. I met him and his wife in Hawaii when I lived there way back in 1973 / 74. He was a Navy Veteran of World War II. He treated me as an equal even though he was 50 to my 22/23. He was generous, intelligent, patriotic, religious and tolerant. He possessed many of the values that defined his generation as being the Greatest Generation. He volunteered for many years at St Jude’s Hospital in Memphis Tennessee. It was Ted who convinced me to join the Navy after I had sewn my wild oats. It was Ted’s life that inspired me to write Kurofune: The Black Ships. Ted was a wonderful man and a proud American. He passed away June 2011. He was 87. He died the year I retired and 37 years after I knew him. Coincidentally, I served 37 years in the Royal Canadian Navy after I met him.

So for all of you smug Canadians out there, Americans cannot be defined by a single politician or a political party. And to refuse to go to the United States because you do not like their duly elected President or to shun Americans as being ignorant ignoramuses and idiots – as I have heard too many times, then who are the intolerant ones here? Canadians are probably the smuggest, most holier than thou racists on the entire planet. And that is bad and oh so sad. And hypocritical.

I am not an intolerant racist. Yet whenever I poke fun at a particular group or an individual, or religion, or an event I am labelled a (insert whatever label here) phobe. Our free speech is under threat and when we lose that we have lost our freedom and we will ultimately begin to denigrate into totalitarianism. And that my friends will be very bad and oh so sad.

After considerable thought on my part I am finished doing this blog for the time being. It was fun doing it. I may come back to it in the future but for now I am just going to use it as a vehicle to promote my current books and to those that come.

For people like Derek, thanks man.

John aka Shakeyjay!

Out.

And for my last musical addition, a Christian song written by a Jew that is psychedelic during an era of piece and love. Talk about inclusiveness. Remember that. Trying to replicate Woodstock ain’t goin to work. By the way this song was way ahead of its time with respect to its Riff.