The Sacrifice of Summer to the Fish Gods

19 May 2010 § Leave a comment

I used to pick fiddleheads for dinner every night, when I was living next to the sea, on my own private beach with giant cliffs on both sides, and the world was at my feet. I tried to appreciate it then, with fervent desire to truly make the most of it. Not was I unsuccessful, but perhaps I was not able at the time to take in all that I can now, to be able to look back on these experiences from a filtered perspective, dividing all that I really loved about them from the things I would have liked to have been better. Now, I can edit these moments in my mind, certainly because there was no one else to remember them, and recall a sombre moment as one of inspired contemplation, or a slow and sincere appreciation of a place or a time – talking to the quad-driving sheepherder in Scotland as his sheep dominated the road, looking out over the cliffs at Cape Wrath, empty and colorless under the ominous storm clouds. Waterless and fighting for daylight, running over the crevassed moors and rappelling down a rock face with a stretch of rusted fence wire seemed like good ideas at the time, even necessary, and I was not thinking of how I would remember these things later.

The ferocious wind at Sandwood Bay, transporting much of the beach’s sand back into the sea, creating from waves of deep blue and heavenlywhite legions of galloping stallions who would never reach the shores they seemed to crave, I do not remember so well the piercing needlepain of it on my face as I walked down the beach of my temporary home. The discomfort of wet shoes I mentioned to the sheep on the opposite hill on my way north? It is less familiar to me now than the sheer joy of seeing a herd of deer and running with them over the treeless hills, adrenaline flowing as easily and quickly as the streams from the mountains descending into the black sea to my left.

The North being my home and foreverdestination, the moment when there’s nowhere to go but south is a moment of genuine education on the Self. It was the chance I had to let everything fall away from me, to let go of the tension and offer it to the wind as a gift – it would take it gladly as it would anything, and I took that chance and shoved it into my sandblasted sleeping bag, where all important things were kept safe in my tent in those days. I pull them out once in a while and they take the form of train tickets and foreign currencies, coasters of good beers taken from rural pubs in Ireland – card game rules in French drunkenly scrawled across them.

And now it begins again, this process of new experience, with the new summer’s dawn, and I am back to the same innocence and appreciative inability I had the last go around, to feel as if my travels were not a once-in-a-lifetime experience – what a dreadful thought it is to consider that one trip out into the unknown, into the world would be enough to satiate a lifetime of desire, of wonder and hopefully the need to explore and learn about the places we do not live in and could not imagine without being there and eating their food and butchering their language with our untrained tongues. I am ready for it again and again, until I collapse not from exhaustion but from death. In my own human experience, there has been no better feeling than that of seeing something I never have before, learning a culture utterly unlike my own.

It is the next step of modern evolution, the desire to learn and to appreciate. Fortunately, some of us have tasted this and with a bit of determination, it can be shared with those who would otherwise only be a satellite to such curiosity.

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