Saturday, August 29, 2009
Those lost at sea~
The glass falls and in that time when it is falling it has found an uncertain freedom. It floats weightlessly to its destiny turning and tilting this way and that, measured only by the resistance of air. But when it reaches the pavement, its self is shattered, its continuity is no more. It explodes into a thousand pieces, mere remnants of what it once was. It is shattered. Its pieces are shattered. It is no more. It is a violent thing and a thing of great sadness.
I was on the searchlight. The night was as black as it ever could be. There was no surface to the water. No telling the night from the water. I caught her in my light. She floated in space, a black void of no dimensions. Her hair spread out from her like an angel, each strand floating to a different current. She was beautiful, and she was dead.
They had hit an iceberg and sank in twenty minutes. Time enough to make a mayday call and rope together some crab pot floats. There were five of them. The water, of course, was frigid. In another twenty minutes she was the first to die and float away, and her boyfriend shortly thereafter. They made the call at midnight. They had done a foolish thing. They had put the boat on “Iron-Mike” and went below to party, leaving the boat to steer itself. A course unguided is a course foolishly followed.
When the iceberg was struck and the boat sank they could see the lights of the boat still alight, below the berg, below the water. The survivors described it as an eerie ghostly thing. The survival time was rated at about 15 minutes or less unprotected in these waters. She made it to twenty and drifted away. Her boyfriend made it maybe 40 minutes and did the same. After finding and recovering her body it was perhaps another twenty minutes until we found the crab pot raft. “There’s people! I see people!” our engineering chief shouted. I quickly donned a wetsuit and was in the water, helping the first man into the litter that had been lowered over the side. He could not have lasted ten more minutes. He was that close to loss of any strength to hold on. Then the lady, who was in surprisingly good shape despite her heart condition. We got her on board. I thought my task was done. I was climbing back aboard when we realized there was another. A man. The husband of the lady with the heart condition. I quickly made my way back to the raft, really just a thing to hang onto, and retrieved him. He was lightly tied to the rope and unresponsive. We got him aboard and found him without heartbeat or breath. We worked to revive him but were unsuccessful. He was dead. We believe he had been dead less than thirty minutes. Perhaps we were in sight when he passed away. The surviving man said, “Do not believe that dying of exposure is like falling asleep, it is a painful thing. They moaned until they died.” It was 5:30am in the morning, if morning is what you can call 5:30am in Alaska. These people had been in the iceberg laden waters for 5 ½ hours.
The next morning, (when there was light), another 95’ patrol boat from St Petersburg and ours did expanding square searches of the area. They knew all the people, dead and alive involved. St Petersburg is a very small town, a village really. They found the remaining body, a man, and we transferred all to their boat. I will not describe my duties of tending to the bodies during the night. Suffice it to say it is strange to deal with the lifeless.
In Anacortes there is a cache. I only had the coordinates and the name for it. Nothing else. No size, no hint, no text. I went looking for it. It took me to a memorial for those lost at sea. I searched and searched and could not come up with it. It was not by the column, so I searched the nearby statue of a woman holding a baby looking out to sea. Her hair and dress taken by the wind. I search everywhere. Nearby people were watching me. I even reached up the statues dress from below looking for a micro. One old man got up in a huff and walked off. The cache was nowhere to be found. I did not have enough to go on. Only then did I really stop to look at what it was I was searching and the significance of it. It is a wonderfully done work of art. It captures so much. I thought of those searches in my past, of those I found, living and dead, and those loved ones they were connected to. There never were any that we did not find in one state or another… eventually. At least those loved ones had something returned to them. How difficult it must be if that were not so.
Thank God my searches are not so vital these days.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
“Light is sweet and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun”
The warmth of day enters fully the heart that has passed through the shadows of winter.
The breath of heaven fills the body that is tested and found to be vital and sound.
No greater love hath a man than he who stands in honesty alone before his God.
So it was that I came to this place. A prairie of some expanse, upon a plateau where I stood alone and unseen by any other human being. This was the treasure of this place. Sure to be missed by others who wander through. Some would avoid the slight strain to get here. Others would come and pass through unseeing, unaware that here was the treasure; not at the place where they were told. But treasures are often not where they are placed. In seeking a treasure one may find truer treasures. The place where Providence has led you. The thingless gem. The unspoken word. The miracle hidden in the everyday.
I had come before and failed. I had come willing to swim the river, but upon seeing the river I was wise enough to know life and death, and there is a difference between the two. I tried again. I followed the paved paths of men and came close, but each way was blocked by fence or canal or dead end. I came a third time by the advice of another and found a way true and clear and full of adventure. I left the path when it was required and made my own way. One that was not the easiest but the clearest to me, and was rewarded by what I was brought to. This place. This wonderful expanse of light and warmth and presence. A presence of being. Alone, yet wrapped into the All. The greater Self of which I am but a grain of wheat in the wind, in an endless boundless field of wheat. Golden sea waves bending this way and that forever to the horizon, at the whim of where the warm winds wish to go.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
There are many mysteries of how we live our lives. Of what medium we swim in. Time and choice are tangled together. What I do here and now affects where it is I go and what I find. One choice will lead me one way, but surely some other choice would bring a different result. What is the nature of it all? Do all these strings of choice exist at once and always? If time exists as a string of multiple realities where each and every choice is made and has its own reality and ever exists, think of how it is. A tangled web of continuous branches crossing and re-crossing perhaps, certainly a complex thing that would boggle our minds, for every moment is a choice and a new path to endless other paths, ever divergent from itself, ever confused, ever existing, ever new, ever lost from true purpose.
But if time and choice are made as a linear thing, where choices are yet made endlessly and at every moment but only one line of choice exists (the one made) then it is a simple thing, a dynamic thing, leading to a true result even if that result simply be the path made. Then time is single dimensional and of a single reality.
Yet the question remains, does the past exist? The place where you and others have traveled? Or has it vanished like mists as if it never existed at all? A false memory? And only the 'now' exists, and only the 'now' ever has? Then time is a solid thing. Unchanging, unchanged. It is not at all dynamic. There are no choices. There is no future.
I think time is linear, a single dynamic reality of endless choices made and followed to where it leads. Where we pointed it. I think the past exists like a residue, an ingredient that flavors the present, and affects where we take the future. I think it is a dynamic world and there are lessons to be learned. It teaches us where to step. Which may be the better chosen path.
The residue of heros and fathers, mothers and sons. Builders and writers, philosophers and teachers. Past loves. All are contributions to the ingredients that make us what we are, and where we are bound. If we forget the ingredients of our lives and our world, the flavor will be lost. Our paths will become tangled and confused.
Life springs from the debris of the fall. Leaves upon the ground. New paths diverge from, but are built upon, the old. My child will make her own choices, but "is" because of other choices made. We are time travellers all. In part responsible for the future, in part a product of the past. There are paths to take and choices to be made. Make them with compassion and understanding, but make them with the hopeful optimism of a child.