We’re heading out of the Krossfjorden towards Barentsberg. A couple of sails up, the ship leaning beautifully to starboard, so that outside the starboard saloon windows is nothing but foaming sea, and lilac grey sky to port. In amongst the exhilarating slosh of the ship over the waves, several artists have been rolling and sliding around on the floor; ‘getting down’, I guess, and experiencing the arctic in another whole new way.
It is coming to an end: we are on our second last day’s sailing. We were unable to land at Farmhamna; it was unsafe due to ‘katabatic winds’ – these are winds created when very cold air, heavier than the ‘normal’ air, drops down off a glacier and over the sea. So perhaps we will not be in structure-less nature again. I am beginning to wonder what email will be waiting for me when I get back. Some people are having disaster dreams, some imagining the dramas that might have happened while we’ve been away.
I find an ease in this wind, under these sails. I love the stability of sail, the constant lean into nothingness while flying towards everything. It is pure journey, there is no sense of the difficult, because every difficulty is caught and held and used by the lines and the canvas, we roll and fly along with it, it is the moment of oneness.
If Moffen is a particular moment, a signficant, timeless moment, then standing on deck with the wind taking us yonder is another, but time-full, a moving, constant event in which what is is becoming, in which where I am is in motion, and not at odds, and the wind washing me clean, and everything a floating, travelling holding.
It makes me feel as though everything – work, love, moving, writing – are coming, can come. It lulls me into aliveness, to a state of, yes, becoming.
And now we move into rougher water and the engine comes on again. The boat is rocking in four directions, one after another. The forward movement is complicated by what happens sideways, but thankfully, my stomach is calm.
My socks lean at 30 degrees and more, the water pours out of the tap sideways, the polished floorboards take everything with them sliding. The hatches are battened, and I want to fly and fly. And to rest, alone, away from here, to feel the land’s wobble again, to feel the way memory continues to tremble, to float, to smear across my eyes, like the snow and rock-fields that come to me at night, at the curving feet of fierce hills.
The ocean is distributing it wonderful power in surges and cross-cuts and swelling rhythm that judders all through the boat each time the prow flows down again and up. I absolutely love it, am propped into my top bunk with feet pressed firmly to the side rail and back pushed into the port-side wall. My stuff seems firmly anchored, but now and then a particularly large leap occurs and somewhere on the ship, plates break, or the sound of tumbling, flying objects is heard. (Lunch, understandably, is delayed.) It is dangerous but feels like flying, standing on the deck is risky unless hanging onto something – so easy to slip and go over the starboard rail, and so certain the death at the end of that trajectory.
I hold laptop down with the weight of the balls of my hands, hoping no sudden swell will fling it across the cabin. The crew are lounging around, Barbara has broom and dustpan in hand, as though in readiness for the next breakage. The artists are mostly sprawled out on their bunks or on the lounge seats, with one or two venturing outside, like me, to breathe the purity of all that moving air, to feel the suddenness of every moment in that cold and spray and foam. If only it were not so cold, I would be out there for hours, just hanging on for dear life and sharing life with the wind.