Hello to you. It sure feels like it has been a long time since I took a minute to sit down and unleash the contents of my brain in print. We have definitely had an uptick in activity here on the edge of the continent.
I am now six weeks into my job with Ship Operations for Oregon State University. I am still pinching myself a little at how much I really enjoy the work. Now that I have been there a little while I think I can better explain what it is that I do. As I described before, my job is very similar to production management. I make sure that the research vessels are staffed, supplied, ship shape and on schedule in order to support the wide variety of scientific exploration for which they are employed. I mange people, resources and time. It is shockingly analogous to taking our kids to Disneyland. Lots of planning, mapping and provisions, also someone inevitably gets sick.
We had the privilege of a lovely visit with the Mills Low battalion over their Spring Break. Rebecca, David and all four kids came to see us by the sea. It was so much fun. We took Francis to the ocean for the first time. Rebecca, Eddie, Harry, Elizabeth, Francis and I all braved the arctic waters and dutifully splashed about in the waves of the Pacific. David and Cody and took a more reserved, and dryer position further up the beach. We went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and, as is required by law, we watched Goonies while the rain and wind raged outside. We are incredibly grateful that they chose to spend part of their vacation with us.
As we settle in, there are more changes coming with the tides. Consider this a teaser for more Hyslop family news to be released in the coming weeks.
While we wait, I wonder if it is possible that I am just now starting to gain a little perspective on what it is we are doing here. It feels like we left Montana ages ago with our eyes fixed on the horizon and have been drifting ever since. That imaginary horizon line appearing to be just slightly past our reach but still so close, elusive.
What I am gradually coming to understand is that the horizon is not a compass point or a destination but rather an illusion. The edge of the earth is always moving, staying just out of reach, like a toddler challenging the tide to touch its toes but retreating quickly from the incoming waves. The horizon is an idea of what lies ahead and where we live is actually the in-between, in the journey to the destination that is always shifting with the time and tide.
When I look out the window I see the ocean spreading endless to the far reaches of my limited field of vision. I go to work and manage vessels that sail the sea without ever encountering the indefinable imaginary fine line at the edge of the world. The horizon we sought when we ventured west as some new breed of pioneer, was never an end point but rather a mechanism for keeping our ship afloat.
Using this distant optical illusion helped us to create a balance, to keep us upright and moving forward while we searched for . . . well, that’s the question isn’t it. What were we looking for? Have we found it? Would we know “it” if we did?
I have written quite a lot about home and what that means and where it might be for us. The reality is that home is me and Cody and couple of cats. It is not a where it is who. I don’t know if you know this, but there is no existing map that leads to a “who.” That certainly makes navigation tricky. Sometimes I feel like a character in a novel, a sea story to be sure. One of those stories where the characters find that the truth they were looking for throughout their high seas adventure was really inside them the whole time. I really dislike those stories. Give me a good old fashion giant squid battle or angry gods of the sea and I am much more engaged in the tale.
Despite my aversion to tales of self discovery it is becoming clear to me now that I am neither Captain Nemo nor Odysseus. I think where I am at now is much more akin to that toddler running to the waves and back, and to the waves again. Tempting the tide to freeze my toes, splashing through damp sand, laughing with my family, and falling back then righting myself in relationship to the horizon.
I am ready to say now that our vessel has a home port. We are moored here in Oregon where the forest meets the sea. The horizon that proved to be so elusive stands now as a reminder of how far we have come and how much more adventure is out there.