Sunday, February 07, 2010

The lake and the land

I went out for my long walk and came back with the idea, or at least, the inspiration to write about Lesley, I had another idea. It was a very productive walk.

I had this intense image of the world from which we've all come -- before birth -- as being a lake. Our birth into this world is us rising out of the water and walking toward shore -- not unlike that scary-as-hell image used in that episode of In Search Of . . . where the ghost of the drunken duke rose from the water and approached shore.

So, we're born and we wander onto the shore, onto the land, into the woods, down roads, across fields, over hills, over mountains, through deserts, everywhere.

When it rains, the wet drops remind us of that other world from which we came. Reminds us of our mortality; that we'll one day return to the lake.

Some of us stay close to the lake, knowing it's home. We're curious about the world and we give it a look, have a walkabout, climb a tree, run through some tall grass, lie in the sun. But we always return so that we're within view of the lake.

Art comes out of the lake. Art comes from that other world from which we came. Those of us who keep a connection with that world, by staying within view of the lake, tap into it to varying degrees.

My approach to life, or at least, the only way I know how to live, is right on the shore of that lake. I walk into it up to my ankles all the time, sit down in the water and wave my arms back and forth, trying to recreate that floating free feeling of when I could exist beneath the water without consequences. Sometimes I'll have a swim, dunk my head, do a somersault. But I always have to surface because my landborn body cannot breathe underwater. No matter how long I stay beneath the surface, I have to come up again because I need air -- I need the World's air.

After walking around on the land, feeling mud squish between my toes, walking barefoot across hot pavement and hot grass, I sit on the shore, looking at the water, thinking, I get it. I'd like to get back into the water. Don't get me wrong -- the land is great at times. The sun is fabulous. The vistas and beauty and sunsets and rain and thunder and morning dew are great. Bravo! Music is wonderful. So are good stories. But really, they only make me miss the lake. Movies? I love them. For the two or three hours of watching a movie, a good, surprising movie, is just like being back in the water and not having to surface.

And I think some people get angry in their lives because they've wandered so far across the land, gotten caught in wire fences, stubbed their toes, fallen out of trees, eaten bad berries that they grow so disenchanted with the land, they want only to return to the lake. But having wandered so far, they don't know the way back. And the rain only mocks them.

And others who are so unnaturally attached to the lake that they just sit on the shore, never venturing onto the land.

And still others, who climbed the right trees and ate the right berries, and found the best places to lie in the sun, and the coziest places to wait out the rain, that they're horrified by the idea of ever returning to the lake. They're so entranced by the land, they've forgotten what the lake was all about.

And while we wander around on the land, we run into others who tell us truth and tell us lies about where they've been on the land, eithe rmaking it sound much better than it is, or much worse. We meet some people who accurately describe where they've been and give us good directions to the fun places. And others who are stingy and secretive about the good places they've been and won't give any directions, and are put out when asked to share.

When we die, do we go back into the lake? Do we return to the place from which we came? I don't think so. Not everybody makes it back to the lake, and even if they did, I'm unsure if the lake would take any of us back. So, where to go? The sun is very far away, the rain comes and goes and takes nobody with it, the wind is selfish and solitary, the grass and trees and mountains just are. They don't care if we sit with them, but they don't have anything extra to offer other than their original appeal and quiet.

Some people wander the land claiming to know where we're supposed to go.

Some people are absolutely convinced the only way is to get back to the lake and jump in.

Other people forsake the land and the lake, believing the sun will reach down for them when its ready for them.

Still others listen to all the differing ideas and can't choose one to believe in.

For myself, I find comfort in the heart-beat-metronome of the waves lapping against the shore. Even when the lake gets rough in a storm, I know it's not deep enough, large enough or powerful enough to do much damage. The rain just teases me.

We come from a liquid state and our brains remain in that liquid state. Look at the birth mark on the head of Mikhail Gorbachev and tell me we don't come into this world from a liquid state. Or, look at my cat's markings and tell me she didn't come from a liquid state into this world. The chemicals that make us who we are and do what we do are liquid. To me, pondering the lake, I can only think of liquids as spiritual. Hence drinking alcohol is something akin to religious participation in my ancient heritage. Whiskey, beer, booze have their origins in water; the lake. Drinking them is like drinking from the lake.

That is all.

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