For the past hour, I have stared blankly at my laptop computer. The cursor on the screen blinks incessantly, almost yelling at me against the stark white background from which I am writing. My headphones are on full blast to one song in particular, Holocene, by Vitamin String Quartet attempting to quell even the noisiest cacophony within in my brain. Its soft, somber, melodramatic tones of violin strings plucking and strumming match the rhythm of the blinking cursor, match the emotion that I am feeling, and yet still offer layers of complexity that I continue to explore each time I listen. The plucking of the strings, like a heartbeat--the violin chords, beautiful in its chaos. It is a song that beckons for more, but of what more, I do not know. Yet, at the same time, I feel full, feel inspired.
The screen, however, is still blank. I cannot find the words of inspiration, of scientific enthusiasm, of distraction. Thus far, scientific operations have been put on hold. R/V Sikuliaq was the closest ship in a situation of distress, and responded. More than forty pairs of eyes are watching the horizon, and willing for hope, courage, and strength. Today, Holocene cannot heal me. What has healed me is how much stronger of a bond we formed on this ship all looking for the same means. The Arctic Program and R/V Sikuliaq all have many cogs in the wheel to help it become what they are, but each cog has changed purpose to help two sailors in need from a coastal community in western Alaska.
Like Coleridge’s poem (1798), Rime of the Ancient Mariner, we are all waiting for an albatross to grace the winds by our ship. Her wings spread wide over the gray-cobalt ocean enveloping our collective silence as we search the waters of Bering Strait. She offers hope to every mariner.
Today, Holocene cannot heal me. Today, it is time to pass this song on to others so that they may feel its strength and peace.