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April 28, 2020
Howdy Jewelry Fan! I’m finally feeling my way back to myself after being adrift for a bit. Know what I mean? There are so many GOOD ways to be adrift: on an innertube down a lazy river. Adrift in the flow of time on a beach with the sun warming your skin and the flintiness of the sand flowing in and out of your nose, lungs and somehow working its’ way into your heart. There’s adrift snuggled up on the couch watching a late Spring snow squall’s silent fury from beneath the blanket your grandma crocheted for you; a cup of tea warming your hands and soul. There’s even adrift in the moment of recognition, of love, of connection with someone new or even someone as worn and comfortable to you as your favorite work shirt, left elbow ripped out after 23 years of wear. So many ways to be adrift. GOOD ways. A lifetime of living has taught me these things.
But in thinking of adrift, let’s lazily wander to the concept of drift and adrift. Adrift has an ease to it, an immersion in the now, a being, an unintentional motion and acceptance. Whereas drift, the verb, the subtle word of action speaks of movement, of flow, of being driven or carried by the velocity of your surroundings.
And now let’s consider an aircraft carrier strike group (CSG). (Stay with me, Jewelry Fan, I swear it goes together.) Other than the Aircraft Carrier, there are Destroyers, Cruisers, Frigates, Supply Ships, all Surface Warfare Ships, as well as US Submarines protecting the highest value asset (the aircraft carrier, and I swear we aren’t going too far down this rabbit hole, Jewelry Fan). This Navy formation remains the strongest projection of our forward deployed national power allowing the US to protect, defend and establish areas of operational supremacy worldwide.
In modern warfare (I’m pretty sure this hasn’t changed since I exited the Navy), opposing submarines operating near this CSG are the largest threats to the safety and security of our Surface Warfare assets. Now Jewelry Fan, our national assets aren’t really the ships, even though the ships represent a significant portion of our industrial capacity and capital investment. Our most important national assets are the people; these CSG vessels are literally arks of warfighters silently laying their lives on the line for our freedoms. It takes my breath away.
Back to the story.
In my Navy day, the primary role of Frigates was detection and neutralization of aforementioned opposing submarines. Imagine for just a few moments, the seemingly silent steaming (oh, dating myself with steaming, sorry, not sorry) aircraft carrier group cutting through the surface of the ocean. Up closer, it’s a bit noisier. The ship hulls are metal, splashing through the waves. The engines are churning out noise where the shaft turns the propeller in the water. Machines on the ships chug and bang, sailors stomp around, up and down ladders. Heck, these days, someone off duty is playing a video game. So noisy!! And all of this noise transfers into the water, for if energy is neither created nor destroyed and it is only transformed, all these vibrations, all this energy, needs somewhere to go. And it goes. Into the water. Making the Frigates job, oh so much harder. How can they listen for opposing forces’ submarines with all that noise going on??
Enter the Sprint and Drift methodology. (Keep going, Jewelry Fan, it’s coming together!)
You see, Jewelry Fan, Frigates are smaller. They’re faster; they can MOVE out faster than the approximately 1100 feet long mother of a ship aircraft carrier. Coiled inside Frigates are sonar lines, which spool out into the ocean, long tails of fiber feeling, listening for the machine noises that give away the position, depth, and heading, of those wanting to harm the arks of our warriors. Ahhhh, but they’ve got to get farther ahead, dangerously ahead and outside the line of protection destroyers and battleships (I know these aren’t around anymore!) and cruisers provide. Those little-big baby Frigates have to SPRINT out so far, they find the silent water, the water where danger may lie. Then they shut down all the engines and machines and establish and hold the forward line, spooling their silent strands of sonar into the depths where they DRIFT and sift and wait.
But in their Drifting, Frigates are intentional. The Navigator has charted the currents and the speeds, computed the physics, the geometry with motion, of where and how the silent work of the Drift needs to take place. The Drift is active, engaged, practiced, practical silence.
We arrive, finally, at the concept of Drift, of what Drift means to me, Jewelry Fan. Drift, an intentional gathering and investigating of obstacles. Drift, focused listening. Drift, the work which comes after a dynamic Sprint. Drift, what the Sprint is really about.
Let’s not get caught up in the Sprint back to what we think we “should” be doing, Jewelry Fan. Let’s give the Drift time to do its work, its gathering, its practical application of pattern and intention. Right now, practiced, practical silence will illuminate the path ahead for me, for you, and for us all.
(Oh goodness, I know we don’t have any Frigates in the US Navy right now. It’s my sincerest hopes that will change in the next couple of decades. Cruisers can’t do it all, and Destroyers are too arrogant. Ha!! Also shout out to Captain Brett E Crozier, USNA 94-2. I stand with you. Oh, one more thing. A discount code to whoever guesses (or knows me and reads this) which young woman I am.)
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