Survival Races (video), Slimy Cod Toss: Surviving Grief

It is time for me to stop mourning, to step back into my life, my boots, my family, my joy. It came to me suddenly yesterday, while throwing and catching a cod. 

This is the life I am given. It is a good life. For all of us, there are heartbreaks we carry with us for always. There are griefs we will never get over, but if we have still have arms, why not catch a fish,  eat doughboys and go on campouts?

 It's Crabfest, Kodiak's five day celebration of all things wild, sweet, crazy, local and communal. 

My favorite is the survival suit races. this year marked its 35th run. It's deadly fun. 

The racers--always teams of 4---run 50 yards down to the water, put on their survival suits, tossing their shoes inside (in case they land on a beach), then swimming 50 yards out to a liferaft. The timer stops when the last person's legs are in the raft. 

None of this is easy. All of us Kodiakans standing to watch and cheer know people who died at sea in our own waters. (In 2000 - 2009 133 fishing men and women were lost.) This is how we practice surviving a sinking boat. We make a race. We gather the town. We hoot for the fastest, the slowest, the bravest and the funniest alike. We know there is death behind us. So many boats sunk, so many fishermen lost. We cannot end all death and grief, but neither can we stop trying.  Neither can we stop working and loving and laughing.

"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work. But neither are you free to abandon it. "  --from the Talmud

We cannot end all grief, but we can lessen its grip.
 Be ready with the suit. Practice. Do your best. Help one another, and look, look how they out swim that sinking boat together!!

                                 (Marion Owen photography)

Peace, survival and joy to you all!