There were a great variety of costumes on display this weekend at the Purbeck Folk Festival pirate themed saturday. Some shop bought wigs, hats, eye patches and beards (mine pre grown), but some clearly labours of love with jackets, treasure chests and hooks all in evidence. But the lady with the real parrot on her shoulder surely took the prize for authenticity (not to mention bravery in the face of a hundred children).
We were, however, a very civil clutch of pirates, queueing politely at the bar and ensuring we didn’t block anyone’s view with our plumes of feathers. I guess that’s because most of us were pirates on the outside only.
So how do we become pirates on the inside? It’s easy to change your outward appearance, but that’s superficial. How do you change what you are inside? Pirates are cool, pirates are exciting, they see the world and adapt to the challenges it throws at them. They have a healthy disrespect for authority, but a strange sense of companionship too. Maybe i’ll become a pirate too.
To learn is to change and, if we really want to roam the high seas, we need to learn to do things differently. Maybe not pillaging and stealing, that was fine when all you needed were pieces of eight: today’s pirate needs new skills. In short, a parrot is not going to be enough.
The learning pirate is someone who is willing to travel, to roam, not necessarily across the oceans, but certainly across their own ignorance. Some journeys take place over water, others just in our minds.
The learning pirate has a healthy mistrust of received wisdom and authority, although lives to a code nonetheless. Maybe wanting to see the proof, maybe wanting to explore, maybe wanting to dig for the gold.
We should be independent, proud and colourful, ready to grab opportunities and live life to the fullest. The learning pirate take knowledge from wherever they can find it and celebrates their success as they go. Carousing and drinking are fine, but collaborating and sharing may be more twenty first century.
And the joy of being a latter day learning pirate is that you can build your own ship out of nothing but thin air: you can build your reputation from afar as you partake in communities and become infamous for your adventures and experience. Forming alliances as you need them, but remaining agile to adapt: the pirate is never lost for words.
So maybe you don’t want to grow the beard, maybe an eye patch is a step too far, maybe you’re allergic to feathers, but that doesn’t stop you being a pirate on the inside. What adventures would you be having if you didn’t hold yourself back? If you gave yourself permission to learn anything? Shiver me timbers if that isn’t an exciting thing to think about!