Maybe it was dumb, maybe it was an act of faith, but we did it. Despite suppressed worries about the Corona virus, (Be) Here Now, my one-man show had its first, and possibly only performance last week. As friends arrived we paused and smiled, not knowing if we should shake hands, rub elbows, or fist bump.

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Andy, back, the stagecraft master with adventurer Allan. Kudos to Dennis for the pictures!

People at work and home had been asking when I’d do a slideshow about my summer sabbatical and trip on the Inside Passage. I was excited enough to do it right away, but I really wasn’t ready. I didn’t want to just reel off 500 slides describing where I went and what I saw. I wanted to create an experience; something where even the landlubber could get some sense of how it felt to be in a small boat on the Inside Passage.

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Like my hat?

My good friend Andy Bike and I, with zero theater experience between us, schemed, wrote, rewrote and rearranged what became a storytelling session with an art show featuring an assortment of the watercolors, dioramas, and line drawings that the voyage inspired.

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Putting on a drysuit is challenging under normal conditions. It  gets even more interesting with a crowd watching you.

With pie-pan stage lights, props, several silly costume changes, and parlor tricks (like a cloth wave we forgot to use), tales were told. The audience laughed, cringed, and came along for a ride. An hour later, people clapped and even stuck around for a Q&A session. The cast and crew felt a surge of excitement- we’d pulled off our first show.

A few days later, the schools shut down, the virus was deemed a pandemic, and I sat at home chatting on the phone with Andy about how to make the show better. I wondered if we should even bother. As I crossed off the dates for the two upcoming shows we had scheduled, I felt bad for all those sick people out there, and felt powerless.

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Thanks to the kind folks at the Willamette Sailing Club who hosted the event and to Harvey for the use of one of his fantastic boat models.

But then I recalled the thirty other sailors and curious souls who turned out; I was inspired by the human spirit that longs for adventure and connection, even in the face of uncertainty. Then I thought, we’re going to get through this. We’re going to hit the stage again.