|M.C. Escher's Three Worlds|
Ah for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea
Tracing one warm line through a land so wide and savage
And make a Northwest Passage to the sea
From Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers
For almost a quarter of century, now, Anke and I have been tracing a convoluted line across our home waters of SouthEast Alaska in small, engineless sailboats.
When the wind is fair, we reach or run down long, straight lines, usually close along shore. Marvelling at the detail flashing by, unfolding mile after mile. But seldom pausing to touch and taste.
With the wind against us, we zig and we zag. Long tack out on long tack in, touching close only at the inshore turns. We console ourselves with the long view. The open and close of mountain, valley and lanes of the sea. Drinking in sweeping transitions from abyss, up the timbered slopes to snowy scapes, each as perfect and aloof as the other.
And when the wind fails, we creep along, exploring every crook and crevice. Getting to know the barnacles by name. Rowing ashore to investigate any prickle of interest.
The world spills in through our senses, writing itself into the very structure of our minds.
And our minds become a chart, of sorts.
One composed of the myriad points of contact with specific places along the coast. Profiles of headlands. Lines of sight and their relative motions. Currents and plants and scent and the look of stone. The play of shadow as seasons roll.
Memories and mind connect each point of contact. Fill in the gaps with imagination and experience. Project beyond in surmise and speculation. Weave each lone word into a story, or better, a yarn.
Like a ball of yarn in the labyrinth, our minds - as much as any paper chart - guide us where we will.
Tracing one warm line through a land so wide and savage...
The land is not so savage, any more, though enough so to curtail the unwary life. And wide as ever. There is plenty of white, uncharted space in our minds' chart.
As we sail on, will our mind fill until it reflects our world perfectly? The multi-layered boundary between our selves and our world dissolve?
Until, one day, we are as still... as at one... as immersed as that fish in Three Worlds?