It is like the perfect storm, says the Philippine man to Nico. It is as if the universe’s elements work together to create a destructive phenomenon. Nothing can be saved. Everything is threatened...

He explains about his work, the excessive pressure on board, the isolation, the captivity within the steel walls of a ship, the thousand challenges. He also tells about his finances. He simply does not cut it. He explains about home. He tells of a marriage on the rocks when you don’t see each other for nine months. He talks about the complexity of relationships. He says his children consider him a guy that visits every nine months.

Eventually there remains a single question, he says or asks. ‘Is it all worth it?’ In the few words he sums up a situation in a desert. The one question contains a thousand others. It questions our purpose on earth, it questions the reasons for continuing. It is a question that embodies an existential crisis. The words contain danger signs. They are spoken in a context filled with suicide. Suicides increased dramatically over the past few years. The one question becomes a desperate cry for help. The cry that says, ‘I simply no longer want to walk this road.'

Nico gets an opportunity to talk to him on a deeper level. They can make a list, an inventory of his life and where he stands. Nico can also bring another perspective.  The central idea of that perspective is, ‘I called you by your name. You are mine.’ Sometimes our work is not to bring someone to the oasis. Sometimes our job merely requires giving a tired traveller a sip of water. Water is essential to reach the oasis in the end. After Nico’s patience and listening, the man finds the energy to continue on the road.

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