Yesterday, Elizabeth Jean scudded past Virginia’s York River under a reefed Genoa with 25-28 knots of north winds. The York was the scene of the British surrender to General George Washington, the end of the colonies’ revolution, and the United States’ entry onto the world stage. Legend has it that the British Band played “The World Turned Upside Down,” a traditional Scottish Ballad, as the vanquished Cornwallis paraded his troops past the victorious Continental Army.
Two days ago on November 9th, we awoke to our own upended world. As we prepare to head south through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, we have some appreciation of how the British troops must have felt as they moved past people who shared a common heritage, but who were on the other side of a deep and bitter divide.
With centuries of history providing perspective, we can reflect on how Great Britain and the United States found common ground. In time, the two nations together unified to defeat fascism during World War II and rebuild a free and democratic Europe during the Cold War.
We, however, live in the present and do not have centuries within which to enjoy the fruits of our shared roots. How then do we navigate our immediate uncertain times and the chasm that separates us from our fellows? Elizabeth Jean and her crew have watch words that serve as our compass as we travel. We turn to them now.
We live in joy. Now, more than ever, we will find and create joy in our lives. We will do so in the everyday moments—a brisk sail to a quiet anchorage—and the major milestones—such as daughter Jean and Max’s June wedding.
We surrender to this moment. Surrender has many meanings. Here we commit to live in the present even when we cannot help but worry about the future that may unfold. We do not surrender to that future’s inevitability.
We share our lives. We are now on a different adventure than the one that might have been. With those of like mind, sharing this adventure will be easy and a comfort. With friends and family on the other side of the divide, such sharing is essential if difficult. We choose to believe there are common values on which we can build the community and world in which we want to live.