Posted by: nauticalchronicles | November 12, 2018



Ball of Confusion: a perspective

The boats are all put away for the winter. It’s Saturday. Louise went to Norwell to visit kids and grandkids. I, politely, bowed out alleging fatigue as well as a plethora of items on “my list”, postponed due to the last couple of weeks of (wait for it)…working.

Tonight we have plans for a dominos party here in Happy Hampton, so the trip to the south shore and back in the course of seven hours was not remotely appealing, even recognizing and weighing the fact that Louise, the kids and the grandkids will question my motives more than they already do…”Where’s Papa??? Why didn’t he come??? He doesn’t like us!!!”

And do I feel guilty; most certainly!

So, to the list:

  • Set up new fake Christmas tree in the corner after moving the grandfather clock
  • Finish washing last night’s dishes
  • Complete repairs to Joan’s three-legged foot stool that needs the fourth leg re-attached
  • Do the laundry
  • Rake the remaining leaves brought down by last night’s storm and which now cover the lawn under the front Japanese Red Maple tree
  • I’ve already checked messages, called in two prescriptions, read a little news, shaved, showered and had a banana
  • Oops; and now pick up the two prescriptions I called in earlier to Rite Aid (they just texted!)

Nowhere on this list is writing. What can I say…the shower just about did me in. I used to sing in the shower, but now I think in the shower. It was longer than usual due to the unorganized, random thoughts jumping around in my mind, thus the title of this story.

A Jimmy Buffet song was one of the thoughts. His guy “went to Paris, looking for answers to questions that bothered him so”. Then “the war took his baby, the bombs killed his lady and left him with only one eye”. He left England (without a sound) and headed for the islands “where he drinks his Green Label each day. After 86 years of perpetual motion, if he likes you he’ll smile and he’ll say; Jimmy some of its tragic and some of its magic but I’ve had a good life all the way”.

Granted, I have only 71 years in so far (“lived here all your life? Not yet…”), but I’ve never, ever been confused like I am today.

I grew up a WASP, a white Anglo-Saxon protestant, in the mid-west with Boy Scout values which, over the course of time, strengthened into more objective standards of value. Your right to your life; your right to your liberty and your right to pursue your happiness (as long as you don’t interfere with someone else’s rights which are the same as yours).

Sounds simple enough: you have the right to pursue anything you want but you don’t, necessarily have the right to anything; you have the right to your freedom, and you have the right to your life, free from violence against you…you have the right & responsibility to defend your self should such aggression be brought against you. You have the right to choose things that affect you.

Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness and Justice for All. Equality. Not confusing words.

From these values came a pretty clear, pretty objective direction in which to point my self. And for many years, confusion had not been an issue. Naivety has been a term widely used to define this type of direction; “come on; just grow up” has been another. Sorry; not yet. I’m still trying to stay objective; black and white vs gray (grey if in Canada); right vs wrong (compromise being something taken from right and given to wrong).

Clarity, to me, now comes in recognizing that fighting and compromise are the values guiding our basic way of life; values I’ve never subscribed to. It appears justice may depend on how the Supreme Court swings, left or right (vs objective), as well as irrational laws which have been put into place. Liberty may depend on the laws and rules imposed by “others”. Equality for All, apparently, is not defined well enough; it must now be further defined for specific groups of people. What was so hard about defending an individual’s rights and why was it deemed necessary to create rights for groups of people? Objectively, individual rights are diminished by giving groups of individuals, rights (a contradiction in terms).

Suicidal folks now have to take others with them instead of taking just themselves (and we are having a very hard time stopping this type of suicide). Drugs and religion create fights of their own (the stopping of which seems to be impossible).

That’s it…I’m pretty well done. Done with politics; done with religion; done with trying to understand why seemingly rational individuals develop “mental illness” to the point of taking other lives before being able to take their own. I’m done trying to understand why we’ve been at war with someone my entire life and why it was necessary to have two world wars before my life; why some religions refuse to recognize life as a value; why The Donald and Elizabeth Warren find it necessary to fight for everything (“fight, fight, fight”); why it is even necessary to fight for everything; why religion and the GOP find a woman’s right to her own life and body should be taken away by law; why making booze was illegal back then but now is legal and now drugs are illegal (obviously individual choice is not legal); why legally you can (and were required to) fight for your country at eighteen, but can’t/couldn’t drink legally.

For many years, I enjoyed debate. Testing my skills of understanding, using values and objective disciplines I’d learned, to discuss, with others, the rights and wrongs of various topics being discussed in the news, in Washington, in the world. It is much harder to find someone, anyone, to objectively discuss these topics with today. Everybody has already made up their mind, and unless two people agree completely on a topic, animosity, reminiscent of the schisms created between people during the Civil War, is all that can be expected from this style of discourse today. What’s the use; it’s easier to avoid than participate. No one is changing their mind.

As the Temptations said in 1970, “that’s what the world is today…a ball of confusion”.

1965 yearbook Newark High

In the future, I will endeavor to recuse my self from such philosophical rantings, as they will be seen as “self-indulgent” and “naive”. I have been trying these past many years to “grow up” and it doesn’t seem to be working! Sorry, but I just needed to write this down. I know some, if not all of you will disagree with some, if not all of these rantings. I sincerely hope we can still be friends.

AND ON A FURTHER NOTE: my Captain’s License comes up for renewal in February; I plan on renewing it “God willin’ and the crick don’t rise”.

And now back to that list!

Captain Robert Brown



  1. Hi Bob….yes, it is confusing and somedays quite discouraging but we go on and make it through another day and look for the good people around us…
    We hope you and Louise have a great Thanksgiving in a warm, happy, political free spot….see you soon, I hope…Bruce and John

  2. Very deep, Captain! I was expecting laughs! But this certainly is a confusing time…..Although…so we’re the 60s and early 70s! I’m sure we will all come through this fine…I hope!💗
    Always friends…..

  3. I realized a couple of things today, some on my own and some after reading your piece (or should I say peace, because spelling doesn’t matter either!). The first thing I realized is that I never sent you a quote on the condos! Drove out of town the day I was going to go over and look and then never looked back! Do you still need it?

    Second (and I know, I’m still young, relatively!), but I still have to open my yap about some inequities. And perhaps when I am older and wiser (as a few of my real pals are) I won’t even open my yap. I’ll just shut up and stop the enabling of bad behavior/mores/values.

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. And lastly, premature sending is a side effect of aging and thinking too much. On that note, I’m in hampton a few days this week. Let me know if you’d like to grab a lunch! ad

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Unfortunately it sounds like you have GROWN UP😬

  6. Awesome article Bob! So true, so true…

    Sent from my iPhone


  7. I could not agree more. You are my hero and life has become WAY too complicated. Hatred and bashing those who disagree has become the norm. You, my brother, are one of the most awesome people I know. I love you now and I always will… Lil sis Betsy ❤

  8. Wow Bob, you must be ready for another shower after that. Also make a bee line to Riteaid and pick up those meds sounds like your off a dose. 😉 😉 😉

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