Publisher of Yachting magazine and a sailor for over 55 years, Harvey Conover, Sr. Everyone who knew my grandfather understood that he would neither give up nor fail. During those first days of desperation and disbelief, during the wait for the Revonoc and its crew to be found alive, my sister, Aileen, and I were taken in by a relative who lived nearby with three girls of her own. Soon, we would need a new home. My grandfather was a well-known businessman and yachtsman, and my father, too, was a national sailing champion.
So confident were they of their expertise that my parents had left no plans in case of their deaths. Now, as the reality of the terrible drownings crept over the remaining kin, decisions had to be made. My childhood soon became embroiled in a vicious custody battle. During the first decade of my life, my grandmother went to court three times with a small army of lawyers and psychiatrists to reverse that decision, but she never succeeded.
However, behind the courtroom doors and within the walls of her home she waged a war, filling me with vitriolic stories about my paternal family. It left me feeling adrift, with no place to call home.
Lost At Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries
Over the subsequent decades, those of us left behind found ourselves unwittingly reenacting the loss, abandoning others as we had been abandoned, drowning through alcohol or drugs or within the bunkered dissociation of grief. All of us, child or adult, reacted to the disaster as orphans, exiling ourselves from our own suffering as well as from one another.
The feral desolation that began to erupt in my forties without warning contradicts it. Though we may try, the howl of our deepest griefs cannot fit the confines of a narrative but inscribes itself in our bodies—even causing heritable changes in gene expression.
Even if the adults say you were too young to remember. Even if you convinced yourself for decades along with them.
For years, I blithely summarized the accident and its aftermath in careless shorthand: My parents and grandparents drowned during a freak storm in the Bermuda Triangle. People would look to me for some clue as to how I felt but would find little in my affect to guide them. The abrupt chaos in my family triggered an achingly slow unraveling of what had existed before, with relationships and loyalties frayed and snapped, lives and fortunes divided. After January 2, , as the days and months passed by, the reality of no survivors became indisputable. Many of the adults left behind could not accept the incontrovertible evidence.
In the cheerful clinking of ice cubes, in the fluid gold of a Manhattan, anguish could be smoothed over much as a wave retreats to the ocean and leaves the sand momentarily flawless. My family is not alone in hiding behind this kind of response. I am simply an amplified example of the many ways we each attempt to remove ourselves from our fundamental vulnerability. At root, the taste of all suffering is separation. Dukkha , stress, begins at birth: form brought forth from formlessness, birth giving rise to a separate human embodiment. Some months after this, an infant realizes that Mother is her own distinct being, and his sense of safety and unity with her is shaken.
As we grow up, our sense of individualism solidifies. We begin to see ourselves through the eyes of others; we are sure we are ourselves and no one else. The Buddha warned against clinging to this misconception of an independent, enduring self—the root of all suffering. Yet from infancy onward, from every corner of society, we are encouraged to magnify, curate, and improve upon this mask of separateness and to orphan ourselves from everything we are actually connected to. Related: Noticing Space. And then there is the inner orphaning.
Many hours on a meditation cushion have spotlighted the subtler psychologies of exiling myself from myself. So do we all.
After the Revonoc - Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
Convinced that I could break free of the turmoil bequeathed to me, I fled my East Coast roots at 17, a wide-eyed seeker on a pilgrimage looking for a spiritual home to fill a chasm in me I could not name. Like the classic orphan figure of folklore, I set out on a quest. Perhaps peace would find me on a Colorado commune, or in the deserts of the Southwest, or walking the length of the Swiss Alps solo, or in a martial arts dojo in Japan, or skirting the heights of the Himalayas.
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Hiking alone in Nepal during these years, I made my way along a thin path above a gorge and a foaming river far below. A Tibetan Buddhist monk walked toward me headed in the opposite direction. Even amid the drama of these peaks that kept me craning my neck to admire them above the clouds, his crimson robes startled me. I carried a large backpack, yet he bore nothing but a small bag slung over one shoulder. When we closed in on one another, he caught my gaze, smiled brightly and kept walking.
I stopped to take in the moment. What did it take to be able to smile at a stranger like that? And at life? My compass toward the dharma was set. For decades I believed I could outpace my legacy through spirituality, mountaineering, therapy, marriage and parenting, through careers in media, social work, and education. I reclaimed my birth name and shed my adoptive moniker of Gagney so I could start anew. But grief is infinitely patient and never static. The arc of my life circled back to what it knew best: the habit of separation and orphanhood.
When I reached middle age, my relationship with my sisters—already troubled—fractured; I found myself being abandoned by not a few dear friends and associates; and the relationship I had with my Spokane sangha of 20 years ruptured.
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We fence ourselves off from one another despite a primal instinct to belong. We also become experts at abandoning ourselves. When I breezed through the first page of my memoir-in-progress aloud to a group of writing companions—the page that recounts the simultaneous loss of my parents and grandparents—just as affectless as I had been for years with others, my friend Julia reached out and put a hand on my forearm. I was ready to move on and talk writing craft, but no one spoke. A storm is brewing in a small fishing village. A young woman returns home, searching for answers about her fathers death.
But as she begins to weave together the strands of her past, a mysterious force unravels family secrets.
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Lost at Sea journeys through a labyrinth of myth and memory in an epic tale spanning forty years of the fishing industry. Featuring the voices of fishermen and their families in their own words - with music, songs and Scots language - it is the lyrical and powerfully evocative story of a North-East fishing family. We have no details of upcoming performances, if you do please let us know. Morna Young grew up on the north-east coast of Scotland and its landscape and Doric dialect informs her plays.
Her work is tender and wry, with a bracing lack of sentimentality: Lost At Sea was inspired by the loss of her fisherman father and spans 40…. StarFlower Promenade storytelling performance by Whispering Woods about a magical woodland lady. Text supplied by third party. Performance times We have no details of upcoming performances, if you do please let us know.