Month: June 2013

Submarines, Dragons and the Endless Sea

Submarines, Dragons and the Endless Sea

Dear Dylan,

On the one year anniversary of your birth, we returned to the sea. Your Mother and I both felt the unspoken pull to cross water for your birthday. So we left the mainland at Southport and landed as we have many times before on Bald Head Island. This nautical pull is natural and inevitable with you.

I have already mentioned that your very name means “Son of the Sea”, and that you were born under water, the image of your face emerging beneath water, eyes closed, face serenely turned towards an unknown sun is burned indelibly in my memory. I see water and islands in your future.

This particular island was a good choice to celebrate all things Dylan because it is entirely possible that you were conceived there. In the sixteen years your Mother and I have been together we have been there dozens of times, including during the appropriate conceptual timespace that fall. A study of the calendar suggests that the other spot where you may have been conceived is also nautical in nature. Nine months before you were born I took the entire family to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where I was working on a DARPA study at the National Academy of Sciences.

We spent a good deal of time at the Oceanographic Institute nearby, your sister climbing in and out of the cockpit replica of the submarine Alvin. Submarines have figured prominently in your first full year on the planet. A few months ago we were drawn as a family to the other coast, to celebrate with James and Suzy Cameron the one year anniversary of the successful voyage of the Deep Sea Challenger.

Your Mom in the cockpit of the Deep Sea challenger
Your Mom in the cockpit of the Deep Sea challenger

If you develop some sort of personal branding logo, tattoo or coat of arms you should consider including submarines together with the inevitable dragons. Or, perhaps, sub-marinal water dragons, whatever they may look like.

Bald Head Island was a good choice too because it is very representative of where we have been as a society and where we are going, or rather, must or should

go. Despite the fact that there had once been a naval fort there, and the light house had been erected in 1817, BHI remained wild and untamed until the early 1970s. At that time a hardy band of nature lovers began to boat over to it and camp. The rich variety of flora and fauna and multiple ecosystems attracted the right sorts to appreciate and help preserve them, the way flowers attract bees and butterflies and achieve perfect symbiosis. 
The island had no electricity until 1981. The original campers became known as the Generator Society for the systems they created to make electricity only when it was essential. Today the island shuns fossil fuel vehicles in favor of electric vehicles and golf carts and discourages exterior electric lights in order to avoid disrupting nesting turtles.

This  is how I expect you and your sister will learn to live; with resilience and resourcefulness and in symbiotic concert with nature, and especially with the endless immensity of the sea.

Live long and prosper.


“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry