Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chapter 5

The seas were calm. The boy sat, cramped in his little alcove, smooshed between the stuffed lion and the stuffed zebra, who, conceivably, were most certainly enemies.

There wasn't too much to do but sit and think. His first thought every morning was of his brother; whether he would ever see him again this side of heaven. Charlie was always supposed to be there. For you see, throughout the young lad's life, he had Charlie by his side. Charlie was his conscience. His great advocate, his true companion. Many men lead lives of intrigue, but if they have no one to relate their stories to, what's the point? Stories are only worth living if you have someone to tell them to.

In this contemplation, the boy became overwhelmed with loneliness.

Such a sensation was fraught with a deep, internal coldness. Though his skin, bundled up amongst his ark of zoo animals, remained warm to the touch, his bones shivered. What if this journey led him nowhere? What if he never finds the owner of the lock? What would his key then be? Without Charlie, who was there to live for? The boy was never particularly blessed, so he pondered... why now did he presume that the tides would change? What hope was there?

It rained.

The seas became violent.

Water seeped into the shaft of his vessel. He couldn't stay dry. The animals gained pounds in wetness.

The horrendous pattern of waves smacking and catapulting the little albatross also caused much sickness. Rounds of vomit became an inevitable aspect of these dark days.

The boy lost weight. He lost energy. He was beginning to lose hope.

And then his sail broke off.

Just like that, in an instant, a violent wind blew the whole thing sheer off its base. Gone baby, gone. This meant one thing: every inch now had to be earned. No more resting on the laurels of the wind. Rowing was the cost.

The boy began to row. He would never stop. This was his fate. This was his call. He would bleed out this voyage, putting forth the weight of his whole being; mind, emotion, will, and now body -- all for a goal he couldn't fathom.

Hope, like a commodity in high demand, seeped out of every orifice. As the stormy days lingered, what once was hope morphed into perverse thoughts of end-games. Maybe a tiger shark would come and eat him. Maybe a title wave would push him to the bottom of the sea. Such thoughts, such thoughts...

Then the sun came.

Sprinting away as if to a sudden impulse, the dark clouds parted. The seas calmed. Daylight. Sunshine. Peace.

The change alone rejuvenated the boys' audacity to hope. He rowed once more with meaning, with purpose, with direction.

He paddled and rowed onward in a hurry, concerned that if he were to for a moment relent, that the sun would deem him unworthy of her presence, and hide herself once again behind the vengeful dark of cloud. He rowed for hours and hours, perhaps days even. As long as he continued valiantly, the sun would not escape him. Daylight would not abandon him to utter darkness. The moon dared not creep up. The sun refused to go. Hour after hour. How long that time remained, this author knows not, but many have auditioned the thought that time itself had stopped so that the boy could make his way through the sea world.

He tried to hold onto the moment, the peaceful bliss of calm sun light on his brow, but his body ached. His muscles contracted and groaned. As much as he longed to continue ever onward, he knew a rebellion of flesh was upon him. He couldn't keep this up forever. His bones would forsake him.

The chance had to be tested. Since he couldn't bear to row forever, since he would have to stop eventual, the boy began to ponder how that moment was to come. He could row until he could row no more. But that was risky. Who knew what would happen to him under the reigns of such exhaustion. It would be better to stop before he reached his own end. But would the sun then betray him? The silly worry welled within his bosom.

Logic won out in the end. Surely his rowing had nothing to do with the rising and the setting of the sun. It couldn't be! The sun is no respecter of mere boys! This was not the world of the greeks, the world of fickle gods concerned with the fortitude of overly zealous young chaps. Neptune and Ra were not real.

Reason dictated the answer; the boy stopped rowing. At long first, he held his breath in frightened anticipation. The relief slowly crawled in. Moment after moment, second after second -- as his tired muscles thanked him for release, the boy whispered divine thanks, for he closed his eyes, lifted his head, and still felt the happy sun caressing his face. How sweet the feel!

With his eyes resting, basking in the contented moment, the boy's ears perked up. A familiar sound. Coming from behind.

He looked back just in time to see a pigeon fly down and squat at the edge of his tub. The bird indignantly shucked its left foot. A small scroll fluttered down off the leg onto the bow of the ship. The bird then, at once, lifted off and resigned itself back from whence it came. The boy scrambled to read the note. It read:
Charlie is dead. Please come home. 
The lad passed out.

In his exhausted state of sleep, the boy dreamed many dreams. They were not about Charlie. They were not about Seattle. They were not about his adopted parents. No. They were about the future. They were about touch. They were about a certain feel, a certain elevation. He could see only intense close-ups... images seen too nearly to be composited. Grass. Flowers. A smell. A bare shoulder. And hair. Lots and lots of hair. The rest of it. The boy smiled in his sleep.

A jerk and he was awake. The lids on his eyes arose to behold quite a new view. His boat was at rest. Land.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Life is Lived on the Streets"

The statement, I have had enough may claim two polar meanings.

The first interpretation moves one to change, the other, to complacence.

There is the 'enough' that equates to a resting point, and there is the 'enough' that comes as a bellowed longing, a heaving sigh or a vindictive chant.

I am no scientist. Patience I have not, and the mathematical patience the various scientific trades require is much too heavy a cost for my feeble body and mind. Nevertheless, despite this prescient reality for me, I remain deeply interested in the theoretical and practical advances we see constantly revealed before our eyes. A question I have longed asked my friends of renown, is the question of the speed of light. For interstellar travel, it would appear necessary for us to break this supposed law to make any claims at Star Trekkian success. I have, on many occasions, been told that it can't be done; that it will never be done. The speed of light is the max-out, the end of the ball of yarn, the summation of the speedial story. I refuse, in my home of relative ignorance, to accept such a proclamation.

You see, maybe this world's had enough of being solely slower-than-the-speed-of-light. Maybe we've had our fill of that time period. Maybe it is time for a speedal game changer. And I ask you, you skeptic, you fat and satisfied; who are you to say otherwise? Tell me!

Last week quite a rufus was made by claims that some Italian neutrinos had broken the speed of light by a few nanoseconds. Apparently the evidence is pretty credible:

The thing about being satisfied, about saying, I've had enough as if to speak of a permanent contendedness with the status quo, is that it ultimately constructs a belief that the story is complete.

The story is not complete. To believe otherwise is blasphemy.

We are walking through this life, through this grand story that we've been dipped into, and in our walking we must remain acutely aware that we are walking towards an end, towards the next signpost.

N.T. Wright writes in his book Surprised by Hope,
Jesus’s appearing will be, for those of us who have known and loved him here, like meeting face-to-face someone we have only known by letter, telephone, or perhaps e-mail. Communication theorists insist that for full human communication you need not only words on a page but also a tone of voice. That’s why a telephone call can say more than a letter, not in quantity but in quality. But for full communication between human beings you need not only a tone of voice but also body language, facial language, and the thousand small ways in which, without realizing it, we relate to one another. At the moment, by the Spirit, the word, the sacraments and prayer, and in those in whom we are called to serve for his sake, the absent Jesus is present to us; but one day he will be there with us, face-to-face.

When all is lost, when best friend betrays, father denounces, and nation slanders... when characters like Titus Ronet have no physical relationship to cling to --- there remains the reality --- the story isn't over. Not yet. There are more acts to be played out. There are more cards to reveal. There are more plot twists to be had, to inspire, to bring to despair, to bring to hope.

As for me, as for you, let us not grow satiated with having enough blessing.

Enough's enough. Something's got to give. Let's live to see the next plot twist. Let's live to meet our maker face-to-face... to see what the denouement has in store for us. 

*The title of this post was taken from a work of graffiti I pass by almost daily here in Koper. It presents to me this unease, this uncanny sense that I must do more of this, this living.