An Open Letter to the Naturalist Who Woke Me Up at 7:30 in the Morning By Reading Quotes From His Kayaking Journal Over the Cruise Ship’s Public Address System

Dear Brent,

Your intriguing statement that the soul is a tour guide for our lives raises fascinating philosophical questions. As a counterargument, may I humbly suggest that it’s 7:30 in the fucking morning and I really don’t give a shit about your stupid dumb kayaking journal, Jesus God.

It’s great that you once wrote that finding yourself alone in the vast Alaskan wilderness left you humbled by the majesty of the universe. But I find myself humbled by a splitting hangover and pangs of regret over the money I foolishly gambled away at the casino last night. It’s difficult to appreciate the serene beauty of a pod of whales when the parts of your head that aren’t exploding are trying to calculate if you’ll need to suck off some Serbian concierge in order to settle your bill.

It’s nice that there’s a plethora of wildlife frolicking alongside us. It really is. But I don’t want to “observe myself by observing them,” unless one of them has a hangover and knows how to do something about it. I’ll observe the fuck out of that whale. No? Then I’m begging you, put away your kayaking journal. Go catalogue some salmon, or whatever the hell naturalists do.

It doesn’t help that your sedate voice suggests you are offering me and my fellow cruisers your facts and reflections on life while enjoying a cup of herbal tea and the firm yet sensual touch of a beautiful masseuse as you gaze upon the stark brilliance of Alaska, becoming closer to nature with each relaxed breath and note of birdsong that penetrates the fine glass walls of your private lookout. Meanwhile, I’m trying to beat some obese Texan to the last plate of Eggs Benedict, even though the fat fuck already has, like, a dozen pieces of bacon on his plate, and I wanted just one of those too, but he nabbed them all while I was busy dodging some maniacal old lady roaring around in her scooter, and all the while some stupid Jimmy Buffet song is blaring through the café and holy shit, what is wrong with these people, is that guy just eating a bowl of whipped cream for breakfast?

Oh my God, now you’re reading historical quotes. Yeah, it’s awesome that some politician who’s been dead for a century declared Alaska’s wilderness to be one of America’s greatest natural resources. You know what else is a great natural resource? Sleep.

Is that poetry? Fuck you. Go to jail.

Here, I’d like to share something with you. Since you’ve offered us excerpts from your kayaking journal, I’d like to offer you an excerpt from my dream journal. I hope you find it as beautiful and thought-provoking as I’m sure I’d find your poems and quotes were I lucid enough to fully comprehend them, and also if I was a 60 year old woman.

Last night I dreamt I was swimming through the waters of Alaska. It was midnight—the full moon was reflected in the water alongside a thousand stars. The ocean was cold yet I was not, for my naked body was warmed by the thrill of being returned to my natural roots.

As I swam through the obsidian waves I espied a herd of seals resting on an ice floe. Eager to both rest my weary body and bond with my fellow living beings, I made haste to their location. When I arrived I sat upon the ice and gazed at the night. Overwhelmed by the beauty of what I saw, I began telling the nearest seal what I thought of the sight before me, what I thought of our humble place in the cosmoses, and everything else the stirring scene brought to mind. I talked at some length, and when finally my thoughts settled and I was content to simply bask in the glory of the wilderness, the seal spoke in its deep, rumbling voice. For as long as I live I will never forget what it said to me:

“It’s about fucking time you shut up. Christ, I was up all night gorging on fish, I feel like I’m literally going to explode. I want to fucking sleep. So if you say another Goddamn word I swear I’m going to slap you senseless and then pee in your mouth. You got that, dipshit?”

And then I awoke a wiser man. I think the lesson is clear.


P.S. The whales were a very impressive sight.