October 14, 2016

Sinning and loving it

SOME OF MY BEST memories of cruising under sail go back to times when I woke up well after dawn and let my eyes dwell on the moving light show overhead.
The water is sparkling this sunny morning in this quiet cove. It throws its dazzling reflections onto the white fiberglass over my head in the V-berth. And a deep feeling of bliss suffuses my body. There is simply nothing more luxurious or blissful than lying late in bed on a small boat, knowing that people on other boats in the anchorage are dutifully scrubbing their decks, wiping the dew off their varnish, and generally hopping around attending to the tasks of the day.

But it wasn’t always thus. I was brought up by proverb, idiom, maxim, and commandment, both Biblical and parental. (“Thou shalt not question the hour of bedtime.”) It was a time and place when Puritan virtues were esteemed. I never took too much food and I always cleaned my plate. I never talked to an adult until spoken to. I was taught to submerge myself in the team, never to stand out from the crowd. I washed behind my ears because cleanliness was next to godliness. I always went to bed on time. I never argued back. I would never have dreamed of having my nose pierced or my navel tattooed. Punctuality was the courtesy of kings, of course, and lying abed in the morning equated to sloth, one of the deadly sins. Early to bed, early to rise, on the other hand, made a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Actually, I couldn’t tell if it made me healthy, but I certainly became suspicious, years later, when it failed to make me wealthy or wise. I eventually had a serious talk with my conscience, which agreed (though rather reluctantly) that lying abed in the morning, though possibly sluggish, unproductive, and anti-social, should not be classified as one of the seven deadly sins.

Nevertheless, deep in the folds of my grey matter there still lurks a primeval suspicion that my parents were right. And that’s what makes things so delightful. There is simply no bliss greater, no pleasure more profound, than that which springs from sin.

I draw the sleeping bag up around my chin and shut my eyes. A happy smile parts my lips. It’s morning. It’s late. I’m still in bed. It’s wonderful. I’m probably sinning, and will be for another half-hour at least. And I don’t give a damn.

Today’s Thought
The avenues in my neighborhood are Pride, Covetousness and Lust; the cross streets are Anger, Gluttony, Envy and Sloth. I live over on Sloth, and the style on our street is to avoid the other thoroughfares.
— John Chancellor, New York, 24 Dec 84

“Please tell His Honor what the man said when you opened the door.”
“Your Honor, he said he hadn’t had a bite for five days.”
“And what did you do?”
“I bit him.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for another Mainly about Boats column.)

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