“Our life is short, and our days run
As fast away as does the sun;
And, as a vapour or a drop of rain
Once lost, can ne’er be found again,
So when or you or I are made
A fable, song, or fleeting shade,
All love, all liking, all delight
Lies drowned with us in endless night.”
— Robert Herrick
I sit here in my room, on an unusually quiet Friday morning—55 minutes past the midnight of Thursday—trying to make sense of where I am, and what I am doing. For a moment in time, past, present, and future seem to me a single sea, and my consciousness this broken vessel drifting—broken, but drifting. A ship always has a captain at its wheel who, like the spinning compass that knows its North, steers his bark back home, into safe harbour.
But this ship has no captain.
Or else the captain is slumped against the walls of his quarters, either drunk or dead—no matter. The wheel, untended, turns with the sea; a spinning top on liquid glass, circling left, circling right. Sometimes in the infinite placidity of that starlit ocean—against the deafening silence of hushing wavecrests—one hears the felling of whiskey bottles, shattering glass shattering the nocturne.
How can we speak of something that refuses to be heard—tucked away in the fibre of forever, at some nondescript, inscrutable corner of space and time? If a bottle falls from a displaced table on a keeling ship plying the plane of eternity, and crashes on the timber floor with the tempest of a thousand cymbals—but no one is there to hear it, does it fall? Does the ship keel? Is there a ship? Is there an ocean?
Yes, there is—in the hollow of your mind, the reader, as it appears now. A rogue current nudges the vessel. It swoons a little, and a bottle grates against the grooves of an unfastened table—it falls, it bounces into a shower of errant shards. You hear the crash, too.
So sail on, you little ship—sail, because the sea is your harbour. And as long as your untended spinning wheel spins with the swoon of the sea, wherever you go—there you will be.