Friday, 28 February 2014

All at Sea: What is the Question, But What is the Answer? A Riddle, Day Fifty-Five

Perhaps you believe, like me, that we are allocated a certain number of heartbeats and then we die. Whatever you believe, I know you’ll agree that death will come to us all eventually. Yes, hello! I’m still here and feeling cheerier than it sounds if you read those first two sentences.

I have been to Hong Kong and Taiwan and Kobe in Japan and they were all fabulous. I visited Nijo Castle in Kyoto, built in 1603 with floorboards that squeak like nightingales when you tread on them, to warn of intruders. I was greeted by a dancing dragon in the port of Keelung in Taiwan. I saw some of my best friends in Hong Kong and was very sad to leave. There are various codes used on the ship in case of emergency: Code Alpha means there is a medical emergency. Code Bravo is a fire. I have yet to hear them broadcast a code for homesickness, but that is what I have been suffering from. I know, I know! It’s ridiculous. How can I be homesick for Hong Kong when I don’t even live there?

Don’t bother trying to answer that. I have a more interesting question for you: If you could live one extra day, what would you do with it? Not much, you might say, if you are at the end of your time and you are feeling frail and worn-out.

Yes, but what if you were given that extra day in the middle of your life? What if you didn’t have to give it back? What if you were given the date in advance so you could look forward to it and plan it? What if the date was March 6th 2014 and someone had told you you could live that day twice?

Does it sound like a fairytale? Does it sound like an offer made by one of those horrible, mythical trickster characters in order to put the recipient in their debt? Perhaps it does. But this is going to happen to me.

After setting out from Southampton, we have been putting the clocks forward every few days to keep pace with local time. If we keep doing that, it will soon be tomorrow when it is still today for everyone else—I’m already seventeen hours ahead of Seattle and nine hours ahead of London, and we’re putting the clocks forward another hour tomorrow night, with more advances to come. So in order to stay in synch with the rest of the world, we have been told that we will repeat 6th March when we’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I won’t have to give the time back, even when I fly home from California at the end of this trip. So I think this means my daughter will not have to go and live in a castle with an ogre.

If I were being given a day in the past, perhaps I would choose to repeat a day where I had made a mistake, or where something bad had happened, so I could put it right. But this is a day in the future—a specific day. It’s fresh and new and it’s coming my way very soon. I can do anything with it. The question is… Well, you know what the question is. But what is the answer? That’s the bit I’m not sure about.

6 comments:

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Helen Smith said...

Oh, Olympia!

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AlleyCat said...

I totally understand your feelings about Hong Kong. I miss it terribly and haven't been there since the 1980's. Soon. What a trip you are on!

Peter Salisbury said...

What an absolutely amazing trip!
So, about this extra day - I've had four thoughts:
1. Give thanks that you are not on the ship you just passed going the other way - they will presumably lose a day they never even had.
2. You could do an extra day's writing, for 'free' as it were.
3. Having done all the things you intended to do on the 'real' day, you could then just, well, chill out on the extra day. Drink cocktails (although perhaps not All day!) and have cool thoughts...
4. You could actually do anything you like on the extra day, on the basis that the day after is still, er, tomorrow.

Helen Smith said...

Thank you!