Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thoughts From a Boat on Lake Erie

Staring at the horizon on water is very different to staring at the horizon on land.  If you are on a large body of water facing away from the shore, whatever is over the horizon is hidden.  Of course we know that the water must at some point give way to some form of land mass but it might be very different from the land at our backs - different language, terrain, temperature. 

A long car journey does not pose the same sort of mystery.  We can drive from rural to urban areas but the changes in scenery are gradual and marked out for us.  Watch out ahead.  We are provided with signs telling us the distance to our destination. On the water the horizon is mysterious.  The time of arrival is unknown, perhaps closer than we think.  The water has no marks that can be read, at least by the likes of me. Perhaps this is a perpetual journey without end.

Staring at water relaxes us.  Refreshes us.  Inspires us to create, to reconsider ourselves and our choices anew.  Water is constantly moving reminding us of renewal and change.  As Heraclitus put it we never step into the same river twice. No matter how bad a situation we find ourselves in, there is the potential to change?  On a stormy day we marvel at its natural power on a calm day we wonder at the restraint of such power.

The ancient Greeks thought of the journey from this life to the afterlife as crossing a river.  Looking at the horizon I can imagine that hidden on the other side of the flowing blue mass is a better place – a good country, connected to our present existence but separated.

We long for that shore.  The possibility of its existence makes life worth living.

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