On my Mediterranean cruise, I noticed a particularly handsome young man who worked on the ship. I cannot name him or say what he worked with as I might get him into trouble with his employer, MSC Crociere. As such, I will simply call him Mr Crociere in this post.
At first, I couldn’t tell why I was drawn to this young man. There was something more than just good looks. I made a couple of flirtatious remarks and was pleasantly surprised when he responded in kind. Before long, we organized secret midnight rendezvous on a quiet part of deck seven, at a blind spot in between two security cameras. It was there, overlooking the roaring black sea and struggling to overcome our language barrier (His English and my Spanish were equally poor.), that I understood why I had been drawn to Mr Crociere. He was a kindred nomad at heart.
You might have preconceived notions of what two gay men get up to during a midnight rendezvous, and to be honest, so did I. However, Mr Crociere had other plans. He wanted to speak about his nomadic life and the reasons why he chose it. The words tumbled out of him with both relief and joy, as if he had been carrying them within for a long time, searching for someone who would understand him.
Mr Crociere began by telling me that he was not religious. Because of this, he explained, there is no heaven waiting for him when he dies. This life is all he will ever get. He must live it now or die knowing that he wasted his only chance. How then could he live a simple life where he meets a partner and settles down with a stable job and a stable home? He would then have experienced but a thin sliver of life’s full potential. He felt, passionately, that he needed to see more, do more, feel more, be more.
This urgency to explore life did not stop with just travel. He similarly could not see himself making life-long commitments to a single job or a single partner either. To many, those are uncomfortable words because they challenge the norm of what is a good life. It takes a lot of strength to break such norms, and at the young age of twenty-four, Mr Crociere had both the clarity of mind and bravery to formulate and reach for what he truly wants. How could I not be attracted to such a person?
When I first met Mr Crociere, I was looking to spend a couple of hours with a handsome man, and I expected little more. Instead, I found a deeply interesting soul who revealed aspects of my own nomadic urges. Like him, I feel the same urgency to live life fully. Like him, I can’t afford the luxury of treating my life as a footnote to an eternal afterlife. This is it. Make the most of it. That is how Mr Crociere and I live.
Making every day count is not easy; it is stressful and full of self-imposed expectations, but it is also a life of passion and risk taking, adventure and travel. Curse or blessing, the likes of Mr Crociere has no choice. This is who we are.
I am not saying that only atheists appreciate life. I know many atheists who piss their lives away, and I know many religious people who don’t let the eternal ever-after distract them from their here-and-now. What I am saying is that I had not made the connection between my own disbelief in an afterlife and my hunger for adventures.
What about you? Does your inescapable mortality affect how you approach life, and is it affected by your belief in what comes after it is over?
Finally, if you read this, Mr Crociere, then I want you to know that meeting you helped me understand some of my own motives in life. I wish you the very best on your journey. Thank you for those midnight rendezvous and I hope that our roads will cross again sometime.