Wednesday, December 26, 2007
the great affair
In Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of the Senses, her final call to act is in her postscript --the finale of non-fiction works -- and she calls for movement:
In REM sleep, our brain waves range between eight and thirteen hertz, a frequency at which flickering light can trigger epileptic seizures. The tremulous earth quivers gently around ten hertz. So, in our deepest sleep, we enter synchrony with the trembling of the earth. Dreaming, we become the Earth's dream.
It began in mystery and it will end in mystery.
However many of life's large, captivating principles and small, captivating details we may explore, unpuzzle, and learn by heart, there will still be vast unknown realms to lure us. If uncertainty is the essence of romance, there will always be enough uncertainty to make life sizzle and renew our sense of wonder. For my part, Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote, I travel not to go anywhere but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one's curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length.
It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.
It is the end of the era of calls for rides and favors and laundry from home, of intuiting my way around a landscape-grid of the city, of the bored simplicity of the known, of complacency and trust and knowingness. The beginning of movement, fear, wonder, the unknown that moves the soul through its newness. Travel.