View Full Version : From Sterling Hayden's "The Wanderer"

02-27-2009, 09:16 PM
I have posted this before. A lot of negative thinking out there related to the economy. I think the key is finding something you like to do and can take control over.

From Sterling Hayden:

To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest. Otherwise, you are doomed to a routine traverse, the kind known to yachtsmen who play with their boats at sea... cruising, it is called. Voyaging belongs to seamen, and to the wanderers of the world who cannot, or will not, fit in. If you are contemplating a voyage and you have the means, abandon the venture until your fortunes change. Only then will you know what the sea is all about. "I've always wanted to sail to the south seas, but I can't afford it." What these men can't afford is not to go. They are enmeshed in the cancerous discipline of security. And in the worship of security we fling our lives beneath the wheels of routine - and before we know it our lives are gone. What does a man need - really need? A few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, six feet to lie down in - and some form of working activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. That's all - in the material sense, and we know it. But we are brainwashed by our economic system until we end up in a tomb beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, preposterous gadgetry, playthings that divert our attention for the sheer idiocy of the charade. The years thunder by, the dreams of youth grow dim where they lie caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, the tomb is sealed. Where, then, lies the answer? In choice. Which shall it be: bankruptcy of purse or bankruptcy of life?

Phillip Allen
02-27-2009, 09:20 PM
thank you Pat...very much

02-27-2009, 09:57 PM
Got to frame that !

02-27-2009, 10:12 PM
... interesting, considering he named names to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

02-27-2009, 10:21 PM
I've read that so many times. It is choice And
now that I'm 60, I look back and see that I've wasted so much time. And seen others do the same. Don't we all wish that we could have a second shot?

02-27-2009, 10:24 PM
Start now!

Hot Air
02-27-2009, 10:31 PM
From Hayden's introduction to Wanderer's 1977 edition

"So it is no wonder that the mass of people regard the wanderer as a cross between a romantic vagabond and an irresponsible semi-ne'er-do-well who can't - or won't - fit in. Which is not to say that those who are fated to stay at home and toe the line do not look at the wander with envy and, yes, even awe, for he is doing what they would like to be doing, and something tells them they will never do it unless they either "strike it rich" or retire - and once retirement rolls around, chances are it will be too late. They know that too.....
It would be remiss if I didn't add that if you want to wander, you're going to have to work at it and give up the one thing that most non-wanders prize so highly - the illusion of security. I say"illusion" because the most "secure" people I've encountered are, when when you come right down to it, the least secure once they have been removed from job and home and bank account. While those unfortunate enough to be locked into some despised and unrewarding job are even worse off. And if I have been favored with good luck all down through the years, I can also quickly single out scores of men and women spread around this beleaguered old world who, without "luck" have managed to live lives of freeedom and adventure (that curious word) beyond the wildest dreams of the stay-at-homes who, when fresh out of school, opted for that great destoyer of men's souls, security....
"They never taught wandering in any school I attended. They never taught the art of sailing a vessel, either. Or that of writing a book. It's all so mysterious and - yes- enchanting. And that is what I suppose this book is all about. For whatever its merits, I would like to think that there is just as much of frustration and failure (call it lostness if you will) as there is of the free-swinging, far-rolling time when, however rough the going, you have the feeling, F*** it! I wouldn't swap places with anyone else for anything on this earth.
Which is how I feel now, aged sixty-one and still more or less broke, slowing down in some ways and picking up steam in others, still with a roller skate on one foot and an ice skate on the other, yet only too well aware of the wisdom of the words,
"...But I think he swaggered
So he could pretend
the other side of Nowhere
Led Somewhere in the end."
_H. Sewall Bailey

02-27-2009, 11:17 PM
Awesome. There is a God, its Sterling Hayden.

Phil Heffernan
02-27-2009, 11:30 PM
SH was an amazing fellow. Thanks for posting his words, it's good to be reminded of the truth: There is no substitute for action and courage.


02-28-2009, 12:04 AM
I'am outa here, see ya

02-28-2009, 01:50 AM
... interesting, considering he named names to the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Does that negate the wisdom of any other utterances ?

02-28-2009, 07:27 AM
Not necessarily, and I'm hesitant to call it wisdom. Living the way he decries may well be a considered preference for a different kind of challenge in individuals' lives. There are plenty of people who live conventionally (as he might describe it) very happily as members of a community, volunteering, helping neighbors, enjoying and feeling proud of a sense of security or membership and all that can provide for families and children. Living on the edge of 'financial unrest' may not be to their taste and even a barrier to their goals.

He exhibited a certain amount of hypocrisy, not that we don't all contradict ourselves from time to time, if not often. One of my wife's uncles was a close childhood friend of Hayden's, travelling together from Maine to CA and living there in an apartment when contemplating work in film or the services or at sea, etc. "Uncle Charlie" said that as much as he liked Hayden, he was vainglorious and self-justifying in ways that he was blind to.

He was a member of a communist party for a while, in part as a protest against a capitalist system which marginalized people. He cooperated with HUAC when his own freedom was at stake, exposing others to danger, yet glorified his own flight from a court injunction to not take his children from the country when they sailed in Wanderer. Charlie thought that was pretty disappointing, to say the least, and told Hayden as much. In the book Wanderer, Hayden describes that he ultimately felt substantial self-contempt for what he'd done to others.

I preferred his book Voyage.

Nicholas Scheuer
02-28-2009, 08:21 AM
Suitable cause for reflection, briefly, but there are different drummers out there, and Hayden followed just one of them.

Hayden's direction, when all else has failed in negotiating a serious difference of opinion "at sea" would have us reverting to the practices of Revolutionary era Privateers, dependant only on the guns and crew one has aboard in order to keep from being sunk.

How fortunate that Hayden had oceans to play in that were governed and protected by Governments supported by millions of comparatively grubby taxpayers, earning a living at mundane jobs, and raising families, and getting them educated.

I used to find Sterling Hayden entertaining, on his Tonight Show appearances, but no further.

Moby Nick

Bob Cleek
02-28-2009, 03:37 PM
I'd say rbgarr's comments are most accurate. Hayden's famous "ode to freedom" was written by a man who had the luck to be able to be irresponsible in the way he described. It sounds romantic, but the satisfaction he himself derived from it was certainly fleeting.

I made Hayden's acquaintance, slightly, towards the end of his life. I had a close friend and mentor who'd run guns with him to Tito's Partisans during the War and we had other friends and acquaintances in common in the Sausalito sailing fraternity in the late seventies. He was living on a houseboat, The Wooden Shoe, in Herb Madden's Sausalito Yacht Harbor right next door to Pelican Harbor. He had an eye for a good boat, no question about it. He could write an entertaining yarn. The camera was kind to him. Sadly, however, like many so-called creative geniuses, he lacked the discipline to persist at any of his prodigious abilities to the point where he produced any great body of work. He was, instead, a "character" with a million interesting experiences. His moment of personal weakness before HUAC left him scarred for the rest of his life. There'd been a group of Lefties who'd meet in the shack that had been built on the fantail of the hulk of Wanderbird, (later beautifully restored by Red Stack tug skipper Hal Sommers.) They were all Hayden's sailing buddies. Ordinary waterfront working guys who'd come up through the maritime unions, not really political subversives at all. When, owing to his celebrity, Hayden got the "third degree" from HUAC, he rolled over on everybody. You wouldn't have wanted to be Sterling Hayden after that. He never could forgive himself, or so it seemed, and he always had a sort of guilty, hunted look about him. He was always at the center of a collection of interesting people doing interesting things, and his movie-star fame (even though he only acted in a very few actually) threw the spotlight on him more than those around him, giving him the credit for their accomplishments. To his credit, though, he named all his characters in "Voyage" after his friends in Sausalito and that makes the book a lot more interesting if you know who the real people were. Hayden was a "good guy," but I'm afraid he was not a guy you'd envy.

02-28-2009, 04:02 PM
Thanks Bob ,thanks rbgarr.I find Bob's more sympathetic so I'll take that one .The House Committee of Unamerican Activities must have been a hard creature to resist , not everyone has the strength .He has my sympathy .

02-28-2009, 04:10 PM
No doubt there is a great deal of "do as I say, not as I do" in Hayden's quote. But there can be no doubt in the latter half of the paragraph where he talks about the ludicrous race to collect the most toys.

Joe (SoCal)
02-28-2009, 04:51 PM
Hayden is on of my tragic heroes. But never forget it was a Wooden Boat that made him famous.


One of the THEBAUD’S most unusual achievements was to launch a handsome young deckhand to a career in Hollywood. Sterling Hayden served as navigator aboard the THEBAUD in the 1938 series. The highly-publicized races brought focus to this handsome sailor. The Boston Post proclaimed: "THEBAUD SAILOR LIKE MOVIE IDOL" and soon he was an overnight sensation, going on to star in such films as The Asphalt Jungle, The Godfather, and Dr. Strangelove.

Cool Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NblVGH1Dmzc

02-28-2009, 06:45 PM
(even though he only acted in a very few actually)

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sterling_Hayden

I think appearing in 55 films over a 40+ year period is slightly more than "very few".

02-28-2009, 06:49 PM
This is quite cool.....


Phil Heffernan
02-28-2009, 11:56 PM
What a character...Bump

John Turpin
03-01-2009, 10:35 AM
I preferred his book Voyage.

Now you're talking!

03-01-2009, 12:25 PM
I've read that so many times. It is choice And
now that I'm 60, I look back and see that I've wasted so much time. And seen others do the same. Don't we all wish that we could have a second shot?


I figured that out last year, at the age of 31. Being about half your age, I hope I can live a good life and enjoy it with a minimum of worldly possessions. It really is, as the author says, a charade.