The Magic In The Moment

by SteveHulse on December 10, 2017 · 0 comments

We’ve all had them, those special moments, when there is momentarily more
clarity, more awareness of who and where we are, and, perhaps, why. Often
we’re in a new and different place, which might trigger long dormant synapses
that that sparkle and connect in a way that is unique to each of us.

I have found, over the years, that it is nearly impossible to recreate those
moments, or to even adequately explain them. until I finally discovered how
pictures and videos, taken around a special moment, either before or after,
can stimulate those deeply-set thoughts and memories, and sometimes
coax them back to the surface.

It’s a neat trick, to share feelings, perceptions and momentary madnesses,
on the tangible page. I struggle with it, yet have to try. I know that I’m usually
touching on something that the readers will have experienced, and even if they
don’t relate to mine, it’s enough to know they might have been reconnected
to their own special moments, being jump-started by my attempt to explain.







My discovery of this “recapturing a special moment” finally came four years
ago, when I was going through some pictures we had taken of our first trip to
Italy. I saw the picture above, and immediately remembered what I was thinking
about, and how it felt, when I took it.







We were in Priano, having a drink downtown at the Bar Del Sole. We’d had a
great day, and were both feeling free and happy. We were loving being in
Priano, had a great room on the outskirts of the town and were being drenched
in Amalfi Coast magic. As you can see, the view from our deck chairs was
like nothing I’d ever seen before. So I snapped some pics, and as I took this
one, the moment suddenly locked in time. The scene opened up a section of
my mind I’d never felt before, and my imagination soared. B noticed it and was

Now this is the hard part. I looked at the picture in the camera, then at the
real scene itself. Way, way out there was a small boat, heading west, into
the far unknown. I tried to get a picture of it, but it was too far out for my
camera. So i set the camera down and just looked out there, knowing I was
feeling something that seemed timeless, powerful… perhaps close to a hidden
deep and abiding truth. I couldn’t define it, but I understood it, as if I’d known
it forever. The thoughts and feelings that flooded were all of an old and trusted
friend, as if it knew me better than I knew myself.







I can’t help thinking that what’s going on within us and around us can be
critical to moments like this. The Bar Del Sole was fairly jolly… a soft breeze
wafting across the deck. The temperature, the day, was perfect. B had just
videoed me trying to be “the most interesting man in the world,” and we’d had
a good laugh over it. Several couples were sitting at tables close to us. Four soccer players had gotten together for a beer before practice, and had just buzzed off on their Vespas.

How I’ve been finally able to unravel it is, unfortunately, fairly mundane. My
tangible interpretation of that moment flashed in an unfathomable feeling of
a lack of time and being. I was neither here on the deck or out there out on the
unending sea… but in some invisible thread in the middle, connecting the two.
The sea was life. The little boat way out there was the vessel… me. And I was
sailing out into that vast emptiness, not afraid, and not knowing what was out
there, where I was headed, what I would find. It was my life… unfolding out in
the open sea in front of me, beckoning me to sail into it, from my safe harbor
into its unknown.


That picture brings it all back… that much of it, anyway. It doesn’t recreate
the magic of the moment, it doesn’t give me any answers as to what
happened then and why… but it helps me remember it, and how it felt. And
after all my attempts to analyze it and learn from it, it also reminds me that
I’ve had other times like that… other times that pictures can help to bring back.







I think we all have these moments, except that, in most cases, we forget them
and they slip away. Perhaps they’re a little bit amazing at the moment, and
maybe they remind us, in a split second, that we’re still experiencing this
miracle of life, which we know virtually nothing about. A fleeting, white light
of recognition… we’re not supposed to be able to translate that experience
on any level. To do so would likely be to begin touching on the meaning of life.
My understanding of it is, at this point, that life is set up so we cannot even
begin to understand it on any tangible level, nor should we. Our basic needs
are to eat, sleep and reproduce. there is so much in our lives that is intangible…
our emotions, perceptions, momentary responses to life situations that we
handle spontaneously… and who knows why we do and say what we do and
say under certain conditions… It all might be knowable, but it damn sure
isn’t simple, or easily accessible.

And so, at the end of all this, I’m left with the image of that little boat heading
out to sea toward the vast horizon of tomorrow, knowing it’s always like this…
every day, every moment… that we are all out on that sea of endless
possibility, that nothing is preordained, though it so often seems to be. If we
choose to be sequestered, which so many of us do, we find ourselves in a box
of known entities, of familiar articles and patterns of daily living, that bring us
a false sense of safety, security. But I think, in truth, that we’re still out there,
on the vast sea of unknown destination… floating contentedly, unknowingly,
in a box.

Steve Hulse


A New Perspective

by SteveHulse on November 17, 2017 · 3 comments

Very happy to be back on the North Sound on the SV Aimless, my safe haven
from all the madness below. We just finished an excellent trip to Europe,
eye-opening and perception-expanding, as always. The water and the air here
are so refreshing, it feels like pounds of humanity dust are falling off me,
making me feel lighter and clearer every moment.

The air is chilly today, overcast, with the promise of Winter slipping through
the flaps of the tent as I write. The peacefulness of it all invites my brain
to begin processing our recent trip, and though I’d prefer to simply sit in a
meditative mood and feel the breeze on my face, my monkey mind won’t
let me. It’s hopping and skipping from Vienna to Rovinj, from restaurants to
sidewalk cafes, from border checks to Customs and security lines, long walks
in narrow streets and up countless cobblestone steps, conversations in broken
English with clerks and waiters… memorable experiences in all.

When one is over seventy, it quickly becomes apparent that the world has
changed from the one we knew… especially when one travels outside one’s
safe boundaries. It appears to me that it’s a very youthful world now, much
more so than I’d have guessed. And it’s easy to find where the youth live, and
where the retirees live… the young being out on the busy streets, in the bars,
on the subways, in the cool cars in traffic… moving, always moving. Whereas
we found all the old ones, the retirees like ourselves on tour buses, ferries and
hanging out at sidewalk cafes for lengthy periods, often close to a church.

I find it pretty amusing, trying to figure out how we become who we become.
For instance, everywhere i order a Bloody Mary now, they’re too spicy for me.
From Seattle to Rome, they’re all too spicy. And no, it’s not just me… it’s become
a spicy, spicy hot world. Ahh, it’s probably me.

So many young people are so conscious of how they look at any given moment,
not that that’s anything new… but much more noticeable to me now. Many of the
older set (mostly men, I know…) seem to stop caring how they look in public.
I was taking pictures of the new fashions in shop windows in Como last week,
when I saw a poorly-dressed tourist in the reflection of the window. I remember thinking, “Look at that dumpy-looking old dweeb…” And it was me.

I was sitting in a parking lot in our car, waiting for B, who had gone in to pick up
a few quick things. I was sitting there daydreaming when the little car next to
me started slowly rolling backwards. I jumped out of our car and ran around to
the back, hoping to stop it somehow, but I saw there was someone in the car!
It’s then that I realized it was an electric car, and didn’t make a sound as its
driver began backing out of the space next to me.

What has happened to me? How and when did I become an old fart slob?
When did my taste buds start resisting a little spice? And why did I not get that
the automotive industry is changing the way it propels itself around the world.
What’s really happening here? Is it the world, or is it me?

Well, it’s both, actually. The world is always going to keep changing, to one
degree or another. And I have changed, too… mostly for the worse, I think.
I have always bragged about my ability to embrace change, and go with it.
Now, seemingly suddenly, I find myself resisting change, of almost any kind.

Probably that’s one of the things I like most about Europe… it doesn’t change
nearly as much, or as fast, as we do here in America. A large portion of
their cultures appear very stable to me, and god knows I appreciate stability
these days!









Yes, the world changes constantly, at a fairly predictable rate. When we are
young, most of us change with it, whether knowingly or not. So we spend this
40 to 50-year window of our lives thinking they are all “the good old days.”
Then, finally, we begin slowing down, only to notice that the world seems to
be speeding up, moving away from us faster than we’re comfortable with. And
it’s then we begin longing for those good old days. Our memories trick us
into thinking that our 50-year window of life was basically stable, when, in
fact, it wasn’t… we were simply feeling stable and comfortable within its
constant changes.

So, does our world change faster now than it did, say, 90-100 years ago?
The internet and the cellphone have dramatically changed our culture of
communications… internationally and personally. And it seemed to happen
fairly fast. But was it any faster than say, the time between 1915 and 1930,
when we had a world war, an industrial revolution and a stock market crash?
While we older ones have mostly adapted to laptops, cellphones and texting
and tweeting, our parents and grandparents adapted to cars, airplanes, radio
and television. All that was pretty dramatic stuff back then.

It occurs to me that my longing for “the good old days” is actually a myth.
There are no good old days, but simply past days and years that we have
conveniently lumped into a way smaller window of time, and have given that
memory a soft and fuzzy name. And, if that’s true, why do I long for a time
that wasn’t slow and easy, but was fraught with challenges, difficulties,
life-changing world events that we had no control over… how in hell did they
become “the good old days?” And why have I not been aware of this myth
until now?

For one thing, “busyness” leaves little time for reflection, and it becomes
easy and convenient to accept packaged concepts that show no initial flaws.
Being retired now, and having all the time in the world to sit and reflect, I find
all kinds of accepted ideas that possess all kinds of logical flaws. Which is
probably one of the main reasons I am so at peace out here on the North
Sound. The water, the wind, the relative silence reminds me that the natural
world is changing far slower than the “civilized world.” Yes, I hear that our
Salmon fisheries are dwindling to a dangerous level, that the new warmth of
our oceans is messing up the eco-balance of the creatures and plant life there…
not to mention our changing weather patterns…that there’s about to be new
drilling for oil in Alaska… sigh. Yeah, i’m painfully aware of all that. And the
dangerous part of all that is, when I’m floating around out here, those realities
dim, and it all feels so same, so safe. My natural world feels safe again, I feel
young again, I love spicy bloody marys again, beer and vodka have no fruity
flavors in them, jazz is popular again and ’57 Chevys are the car of the year again.
Ahh, the good old days! Good god, Steve….

It appears that even self-induced ignorance is still bliss. If it feels good,
(especially at my age…) then do it! So I think I’ll continue to sail blissfully on,
even though my temporary ignorance might be frightenly close to temporary
insanity. Right now it doesn’t matter. I’m happy, and at peace. Thank you,
North Sound, for quieting my mind and settling my heart.

Steve Hulse



It’s Always The People… Always!

by SteveHulse October 31, 2017

Traveling abroad is usually comprised of different scenery, different cultures and different people. This time we enjoyed the historical elegance of Vienna, the grandeur of Lake Como, the beauty of the Croatian coast, the soft, rolling hills of Tuscany, the energy of Florence… yet the thing that always endures the strongest in our memories is […]

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Questions In The Tuscan Sun

by SteveHulse October 15, 2017

When all seems perfection –             Okay. So lying here on a lounge chair by the pool at Villa Buonasera, the midday Tuscan sun glowing down upon us, spreading warmth and good energy across the villa and the vineyards behind us. A slight breeze adds to what I feel is […]

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Weekend at Lake Como

by SteveHulse October 6, 2017

It’s funny… the weakest link in our four-stop trip turned out to be a beautiful experience, on several levels. I wanted to see Lake Como. B has been here before, and wasn’t particularly impressed with it. But she was willing to indulge me and with considerable effort on her part, we found ourselves in Como […]

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Reflections On Vienna

by SteveHulse October 2, 2017

(This is Betty’s and my first stop of four. We intend to visit Rovinj Croatia, Lake Como Italy and our favorite, Villa Buonasera, in Tuscany after seeing Vienna.)             Vienna! As the old saying goes, you have to be here to understand it and its wild, colorful history. I don’t […]

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Remembering John Abercrombie

by SteveHulse August 29, 2017

His nickname back then, ’65 – ’70, was Crumbles. Why, I have no idea. At Berklee, he was already a brilliant player. He was a quiet, low-visibility guy that few of us knew. After my Berklee years, I got a job as an arranger at a studio west of Boston… in Maynard. In the process, […]

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Fanning The Flickering Flame

by SteveHulse August 24, 2017

Taking an occasional sabbatical cruise through the North Sound on my trusty Aimless is always enlightening. I never have an agenda, save to get out there and take my place with the rest of the natural world for a bit. It’s always good, always different, always refreshing. The real world, I said “the real world” […]

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And now, for something different…

by SteveHulse July 23, 2017

I didn’t see it coming. For 37 years my “cabin” was home to me, where my home and heart would always be. I had helped design it, had it built by a good friend, paid for it, mortgaged it twice, spent holidays, summers and Christmases in it. I’d gotten married in it. After the divorce […]

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Cruising the North Sound

by SteveHulse May 21, 2017

            Have been sailing for the last few days on the RSV Ambivalent. (Not really… the raft is still the Aimless, it’s the captain who’s ambivalent…) The weather’s been good, but I have mixed feelings about it. The fishing has been slow, and I suddenly started missing TV for some […]

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