Wednesday, October 5, 2011

You, the pre-Cambrian Sea, and Tide Charts

The Cambrian era is a paleobiological time from the distant past.  The pre-Cambrian era extends back nearly four billion years.  To speak of the ocean at that time is to include a stunning array of cell, plant, and mineral life, much of which resides within us today, in fact courses through bloodstream, carrying a replication of the pre-Cambrian sea.

With that lovely equivalent ocean circulating through your veins and arteries is yet another presence or, if you will, force; you are on some level reminded of it at least once an hour.

Your added gift from this ancient ocean is in some ways the equivalent of notes you placed in bottles, then case into the ocean when you were an adventurous lad.  Not that you are of diminished adventure now nor that you are sending forth fewer messages—rather more.  This gift is more primal:  it is the embodiment of the tide.

Sometimes you want to believe all human transactions are tidal.  Other times, you are certain they are.  Tides ebb and flow, enthusiasms ebb and flow, hormonal balances rush forth, then retreat like house burglars. A project that one day seems brim-full of the seethe of life of the pre-Cambrian sea retreats before your eyes on a second reading.  Material that seemed so lackluster that you were eager to set it aside now bubbles with the froth of enthusiasm, calling you back to it to add a word, a detail, a sensory trigger.

Recognition of the stages of the tides, within you and without, reminds you how perilous and yet how exciting the trek through life is.  You must learn to cope with the fluctuations, to recognize the feel of the high-water mark and the slick, sandy desolation of dead low tide.  It comes to you how, at times, you have tried to live as though life were always at that average point, where the water was somewhere on your shin bone between ankle and knee, the tide captured in some digital photo, halfway between wax and ebb.

Didn’t work.

The places where the insights are most valuable are where the tide is fuli in or long gone, when you have to scurry or you will be left trying to do the Australian crawl in the kiddies’ wading pool.  You buy into some of the vital lies that have been thrown overboard from many a passing civilization, noting how they clutter the coastline.  The tides allow you to see the wreckage of the propaganda and false premises for what they are.  Jetsam—things thrown overboard for the sake of better sea faring.  Is that a metaphor, or what?

 The tides and their incessant movements give you a chance to consider the consequences of what you have done and what you have not done.  Sometimes you have done what you ought not to have done; other times you have not done what you ought.

What remarkable things have you done when the tide was half in or half out?  Compare that with what you have done well on your way to being drunk or in love or on the edges of a new story or suddenly overcome with envy at the opening of a short story or poem or novel, all of which conditions are remarkably similar in that they are aspects of the tide of reason being full in or full out.

 


Post a Comment