4:35 AM 13 June. Noticed that the “recommend use by 12 June” on my milk bottle was yesterday. Drinking the coffee with that milk in it right now. That’s what we do. We use things past their recommended use date. All (but one, Scott the bowman, age ??) of us on the Psyche are trying to keep our bodies together past their recommended use date. Adapting to every injury and ailment. That’s what we do. Adapt. The ringing in my ears really gets worse if I don’t keep my hoodie on. So I keep my hoodie on. The cancer spot on Jimmy’s ear needs to be bandaged every day. Everyone adapts. It’s what we do.

Well, on a sail boat, one adapts all the time. On Bokonon, we once bought a “fisherman’s anchor”, to use for anchoring in rocky bays. It has the classical Popeye look, with sharp flukes going out in two directions.
We found this anchor particularly difficult to get into and out of the hatch where we keep our other anchors, the more compact “CQR” style. So, we adapted to this difficulty and tied the fisherman anchor smartly to the rail back in the stern, with one of its flukes tight against the deck and the other fluke out over the water. Easy to get to, easy to put away. Adaptation.


One of my favorite examples of adaptation is a story a revered math professor, David Lange, back in the 80s once told me. As a young toddler, he refused to drink his milk out of a glass. He only drank it out of baby bottle, complete with its rubber nipple. Freud would probably have something to say about this, but David didn’t care. He wanted his nipple bottle. His parents conceded time and again for months upon months, I guess figuring that they would be able to use reason with him when he could talk. Well, as he became more cognizant with age, they finally told him, ok, you can keep drinking out of the nipple, but we aren’t buying you a new one. Ok, fine, says David, and happily sucked his milk down for weeks and month. As this last nipple aged, it developed more and more holes in it. Young David didn’t mind. He just put his index finger over one hole, his middle finger over another, pinky finger over another, etc. Weeks went by. David became more and more adept at using all his fingers to cover the increasing number of holes so he could effectively suck on the nipple. Finally, the number of holes in the nipple exceeded David’s number of fingers, and after a couple of weeks of making a mess and getting no milk, David finally gave up adapting and drank his milk out of glass. There are always limits to adaptation, of course.

We did a similar sort of adapting as David did on Bokonon.  We used to have an old inflatable raft, we tied to the stern of the boat. This raft kept springing leaks. We fixed each leak, but there were constantly new ones. But you have time on a boat, so we just kept fixing the leaks.


I think we would have done that for another year, but one night while anchored in sand using the CQR anchor (sandy bottom) the wind was blowing really hard offshore, you could feel it hitting one side of the boat with 40 knots, then quiet, then the other side of the boat. Pretty exciting, not much sleeping going on. Then in the morning we got up, and there was the “deflatable”, impaled on the outboard fluke of the fisherman’s anchor, and limp as a rag. That ended that adaptation story.

A wonderful woman in my yoga class started a couple of weeks ago. I don’t notice things that much, but I did notice on that first day that she limped pretty bad when she walked. Class starts. Downward dog.


This is the worst. It always feels like hell, and this body of mine just hates to stretch and jeeze I really started feeling sorry for myself, but adapted and made do, just the same.  This day, I noticed a very measured deep breathing coming from the direction of the new student in the class. I looked back toward her under my legs (see above), and figured out why she limped. She had an artificial foot. Jeeze, really, Bill, you are feeling sorry for yourself in down dog? I didn’t know it till later, but she has an artificial leg too. Actually her own leg doesn’t start until half-way up her thigh. Everything south of that is artificial. And there she is under there, just adapting. She later told us that she loves to experiment with whatever prosthetic anyone wants to let her try. She has been adapting like this since she was 12, when aggressive bone cancer almost took her life. Makes me realize that I haven’t even begun to adapt yet.

2 thoughts on “Adapting

  1. Boy, what a writer you are Brother Bill. Remaining flexible and adapting are, in my mind, tools to survival. Here we are on a Saturday morning, not quite ready to leave our warm and cozy bed, reading your thoughts. Next time you come visit us in Friday Harbor we’ll take you out on our new boat, the “Compartimos”. She hasn’t been surveyed yet and is not officially ours at this point, but I have faith she will be. If not, we’ll just have to be flexible and adapt.


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