by Epicurus III *
*My nom de plume is in honor of the Greek philosopher, Epicurus, and voyages on the Mediterranean Sea from Samos to Spain. I have tasted a modest portion of the Epicurean philosophy to satisfy my appetite. I don’t need more than I possess on my sailboat. And my intimate relationships are my affirmation of who and what I am. My sailboat is a schooner, it’s my home. I am of the sea and the Earth is my nation.
The brain photographs the most salient matters affecting attitude. I count my affairs judiciously. That’s what I learned as a youth. So, when I was asked to write a short piece about my philosophy and how I live, by the NPJ publisher, I wanted to consider it, as I know the man in passing. We met many years ago. We shared a few drinks at a hotel bar near a wharf and we talked for a few hours. It was an informed conversation with some smiles and frowns. We both have a reverence for the sea and the meaning of being an expatriate. These are my notes. (Thanks for the editing in advance).
The world is mostly water. There are no fences on the oceans and seas. No property lines like those on land to argue over, only the laws of the sea, no religion, no evangelicals, no rulers, no social structures, few signs, or billboards except near shores, and no intruders except for pirates mostly off the East Coast of Africa. My crew and I use our conscience and sense of responsibility. That’s my translation of living on the water. Except the massive piles of floating garbage and debris people vomit into the ocean and the very rare sighting of a submarine that emerges to the surface, of course cargo ships and other vessels, we adapt. We listen to the stirrings of nature and what it’s communicating to us. And on a clear night the canopy of the heavens embraces us aboard the schooner. We are the dust from stars.
People live in an infinite number of universes. I have attempted to savor the sweet and sour quality of the one I am in. There are few heroes or villains among the people I have personally encountered in my voyage on water. I’ve experienced misdeeds and wickedness along with the usual harbingers of purposed confusion on land. There’s little time to waste with extreme emotions. My answer is wanting less and listening to my natural desires as opposed to those that are unnecessary and futile.
From the capitalist demeanor of my parents and peers I learned the nature of competition and strategies to outwit my adversaries real and fancied. A capitalist manipulates…it’s easy to be cynical. Occasionally I felt the bitter taste of bile rise up in my throat.
I’m a gambler. Inherited six figures in the form of paper and cash. And so, my adventures began at a young age, when I was 20 something back in the 1970s. I played with stocks and tried to outmaneuver those in my way while still being civil. My Epicurean philosophy was in its early stages. I would learn, thinking someday if I had enough money, I could do really noble things.
My partner during this period was an artist. We met in college. We reasoned the world was overpopulated with too many unwanted children. We both had experiences in Africa, Asia, and Central America. As it was my partner and I split after a few years together. It was mutual. We remain friends.
During the 70s, there were oil shortages, long lines of cars to gas stations, and earlier in the decade was Watergate. Those memories stuck with me. The 37th president was an iffy gambler. China was his best wager and Edward Kennedy made a mistake by not taking him up on his universal health care offer. And Watergate was the president’s worst bet along with extending war and a nation’s nightmare. Paranoia, self-loathing, insecurity, and fear gets in the way of our life. When competition becomes uncivil, assuming it was ever civil, sociopathic disorders like extreme narcissism fucks up the heart and the head no matter who you are.
Nothing in life is never not personal! Life is personal. Whatever happens to you is personal. Period. Awareness. Move forward. Keep your distance from naysayers and fix your eyes on the horizon. Keep things simple whenever possible.
Everyone has violated someone’s law in some place and committed a crime in their life. Who hasn’t got a ticket? Some people get away with murder. Money empowers. Some commit crimes on a grander scale. Some crimes more blatant than others, ask the 45th president. He’s visible and likes the visibility when it works on his behalf. He has an impure criminal’s mind. Sociopathy messes you up especially when you are only focused on “I” and not those around you and their lives. Some others are not easily identifiable. All entities have scoundrels. They wear many masks. Keep your distance.
Wealth comes in familiar and unfamiliar guises. Gaining wealth for me was simply a means to liberation. My “real nation” is the planet Earth. To say I was from this or that country was/is missing the point I try to make. I have many cultures in my blood. I was born in the United States. I am one of its citizens. My ancestors arrived in the 18t century to its shores.
Early on I began getting involved in Futures with inherited money. Six figures forty years ago was promising. I made money on Futures. As I said, I gambled. Hardly ever spent from the principle. Learned people can be bought whether for money or a vote or just survival. Money opens doors and liberates up to a point. After that point it destroys the humane, attacks the heart. Every single day is a gamble. Every single day is an opportunity to be humane. I’ve witnessed poverty, war, and death up close. It’s burned into my memory.
You have to know what you’re gambling on and who and what are involved. In 1986 I wagered three thousand dollars on the jockey, Wille Shoemaker, to guide his horse, Ferdinand to win the Kentucky Derby. My friends shook their heads and rolled their eyes. My wager was on the jockey with the horse in mind. The odds were 17 to 1. But, I had watched Shoemaker ride before. Passion, experience, and expertise. He knew the horse he was riding. Ferdinand won because Willie Shoemaker knew how to ride him to victory.
My philosophy involves assessing the scenario being presented. I take chances on people. Another thing, I am a contradiction. I generally don’t like to sit in the stands with the fashionable crowd. I prefer being near the track, and to feel the vibration of the horse’s hoofs pounding the earth and the intensity of the race up close. It’s intimate and you feel the spirit of the horse.
Rages to riches is generally bullshit, unless you are talented and skilled at something, with a dedication to back it – like knowing how to swing a golf club or bat a baseball or whatever. Strengths and weaknesses change over time. I tested my natural boundaries. Much of life is getting to know others.
I had some semblance of a network from the beginning. A network to wealth. I was confident. Percentage wise self-made is for all intents and purposes, nonsense. If you intend to become a billionaire let alone a multimillionaire train like an Olympian but that’s no guarantee. You may have a better chance at the Kentucky Derby. Stand in another’s shoes and don’t be afraid to gamble wisely, if your heart and head is truly into it.
Failure is more prevalent than success. Passion is valuable though it will not carry you through to your financial goal of wealth. A bit of luck, timing, connections, betting on the right jockey and horse are all part of it. Look at your whole picture. Losing doesn’t mean you’re a loser. Neither does winning mean you’re a success. It’s a cliche but don’t insult yourself by comparing yourself to others. It may take a lifetime to find your place. When and if you do find your place bathe yourself in it.
Life is a voyage for me. The boat has all kinds of electronic gadgetry. I keep it in good repair. I bought it used and have sailed from Nassau to Martinique, Jamaica, Key West, Panama City and to other romantic and unromantic harbors in different parts of globe.
I am as of this writing anchored off the coast of Florida, listening to weather reports. We will set sail as needed or take harbor as necessary. Probably soon. I limit the boat’s exposure, as much as possible to the stormy seasons – hurricanes and rough high seas. Weather changes, and quickly, preparation is built into the schedule.
Marinas can be expensive so I have a really small boat to motor ashore. I’m not a billionaire, not even close. Nor do I want to be. My money as it were, is in banks, along with some precious stones, and I have a couple pieces of fine artwork in storage as my savings. I pay taxes through my financial advisor, the price of being a citizen but living only on the water. My boat is tangible personal property. My financial advisor stays on top of it. The less physical stuff I possess the freer I feel and the less I want.
I like to walk on land and visit coastal cities for meals, entertainment and to listen to voices and music. I am also a pan sexual and one or two lovers are generally nearby and one has been a sailor with me. She is poly. Friends and acquaintances are just a port or two away. Electronics/technology has shrunk the world though the world, especially at sea, can be daunting without electricity and batteries, and fresh water. The engine in my boat is primarily for contingency and entering and leaving harbors and ports.
Each day I ever look towards the sunrise and sunset when the sky is clear and I meditate on my good fortune.