By Arnaz M. Khairul

I took a step back, let go for a bit, put what little I knew of this utter political mess into perspective.

Swung on my home office chair and temptations to just dump this crap and get a life crossed my mind as my gaze caught the collection of adventure classics of Slocum, Knox-Johnston and Moitessier.

Yeah, maybe time to live that life I dreamt of at 10 or 11. Doing a Moitessier-styled mid-race excursion to Tahiti and never coming back seems quite an idea.

Somehow, I am certain I’m not the only Malaysian having such thoughts.

A promised change hijacked mid-race and a future made even more uncertain by its fate left to a society bereft of shared morals, let alone sincerity.

Neither morals nor sincerity were ever in question back in the day when life preceded politics. We just got on with life.

But by a stroke of misfortune, many of us had inadvertently been forced to take note of the filthy world of politics, more because it began affecting life as we lived it than anything else.

And could you have just ignored the news channels on March 1 as an unbelievable political coup took its course? You are in the minority if you did.

The dust never settled, though we were for a little while kept entertained by some hillarious antics of the new Perikatan Nasional ministers as we struggled with the shock to the system that was the Movement Control Order (MCO) on March 18.

From a Health Minister who thought it fit to tell a world frightened by Covid 19 that a glass of warm water would kill the virus, to his cabinet colleague setting the world alight with advice for wives to mimmick Doraemon when speaking to their husbands as a preventive measure for domestic violence. For once Malaysian comedy made global headlines.

Between then and now, as thousands lost jobs, thousands more struggled on government aid packages, if they did arrive, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Perikatan Nasional loose coalition performed well on TV screens in their announcements of stimulus and relief packages, only to find implementation issues multiply its critics.

Stuck at home during lockdown, viralised eavesdropped voice recordings of Bersatu meetings justified Muhyiddin’s bloated 73-member Cabinet and 41 political appointments to chairmenships of government-linked companies more than their relevance, as legitimacy came under threat of a no confidence vote that forced Muhyiddin to manipulate parliament schedules as RM285 billion in touted relief expenditure remains a stolen child denied justice.

If you thought solutions were underway from the PH camp, then three-weeks of talks seem to point to a 95-year old Dr Mahathir now wanting a third bite at the cherry, while PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, despite being opposition leader, looks set to be forced to give in again.

While the war rages on, many of us have simply had enough. This is not the pleasant sailing everyone expected when they subscribed to this adventure.

Many are cursing themselves for being dragged into the same boat as the politicians by the politicians. And I mean politicians on all three blocks of the divide – the BN/MN block, PH and the hopping kingmakers who would prositute themselves to form the decisive non-democratic alliances for the sake of power.

We are stuck with this system of ever so thinly veiled democracy, which actually turns us victims of a consociationalist concept, which yet persists to compromise on marriages of convenience.

We are continuously fed with the drama of unholy and loose alliances of cliques whose lifelines hang by the validity of their deception of the masses and how much their deceptive maneuvres can amass in terms of support and free-flow of trinkets.

And yet we crave justice. We crave equal opportunities. We crave peace. We crave prosperity for the nation if not ourselves. Never confronting the question of whether we have stuck ourselves in marriages of convenience that compromise all those desires in the first place.

Funny, how such mesmerising uncertainty could actually form the basis of my conclusion to long-standing questions even the great Captain Joshua Slocum never totally answered themselves.

At crossroads between a fading demand for his “archaic” skills of sail and celestial navigation as the age of steam retired the tall ships he so proudly commanded, Slocum stood alone, or rather sailed alone on a 37-foot sloop he resuscitated back to life to leave an eternal mark, not just as the first human to circumnavigate the world solo, but launched back into life the ancient art of sailing itself.

Rejected by an industry he commanded such respect from, Slocum in 1896 took a path that invented a new industry – the private leisure and adventure sailing that we know today. A multi-billion dollar industry today, driven by a cult following mainly of those sickened, betrayed, lethargised by the politics of life.

Inspired by Slocum, have a century later the grizzled French sailing philosopher Bernard Moitessier added meaning as he abandoned a round-the-world race to Tahiti on board his aptly named vessel ‘Joshua’ with one of his many famous quotes:

“Its normal pace, even with the threat of a gale. How long will it last, this peace I have found at sea? It is all of life that I contemplate—sun, clouds, time that passes and abides. Occasionally it is also that other world, foreign now, that I left centuries ago. The modern, artificial world where man has been turned into a money-making machine to satisfy false needs, false joys.” – Bernard Moitessier.

While satisfying his escape, Moitessier seeemed to contradict himself by uttering: “I hate storms, but calms undermine my spirits.”

But no. Those were real storms and never was he deceived by the nature of them. He got real.