Deep Breaths of Sight and Sound

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I have said I?m not much of a cruise person, but evidently I can be. Granted I?m usually looking for a quiet spot with nobody else around, a spot where I can enjoy the massiveness of the ship or the planet, but nevertheless?I?m enjoying it.

Surprisingly I have found enjoyment in the formal dinners, mostly by perceiving them as a costume party. The ladies paint their faces and drape themselves in the most-rare of fabrics and stones. The men try desperately to look both uniformly similar and strikingly different at the same time.

Last night our Maitre D told us a story of the time when a young couple came to the formal dinner wearing jeans and a t-shirt. She told us about how all the guests had something to say about these people. About how it made them uncomfortable, how it wasn?t fair, and how they weren?t playing along.

That was my favorite part?playing along. Most of us dance on the line of understanding it as a game, yet we play on blindly, there being no need to investigate the truth behind such things. For the truth leads us to the same place it always does?feeling alone and foolish.

I?ve spent a number of hours plugged into my iPod, inhaling Beethoven and reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn; a book more than a few of the brightest people I?ve known have recommended to me in recent years. I?m only six chapters deep and it has already challenged my mind and spirit. Wherever the story ends up, reading it will surly be a turning point in thought.

Sometimes I see things, or hear things, (but usually see things) that spark an intense stream of thought or emotion. They are usually simple things, which should have gone on forgotten like all the rest of the simple things in such a busy world. However, sometimes things spark and they stick.

As I was waling past the slot machines a night or two ago, there was a woman who I caught in my periphery. The image of her grabbed my attention so quickly, that it interrupted my stride. I stopped, turned and took a deep visual breath. Her eyes were closed. She sat upright, like an English teacher would; with her back arched and chin held high. Her hands were pointed upward on either side of her face and her fingers danced slowly, as if she were rolling a ball of paper between her thumb, first and second. Even slower, here head was turning from side to side with her eyes lightly shut. Her lips were moving, likely muttering her wishes and the promises of things she would do if just this once, just one time, they were, please god, granted.

I?ve always been amazed by people in casinos slumped forward and focused at the slot machines. Watching them numbly repeat their betting. I?ve even joined in a few times, but left feeling as empty as my wallet. Their hope is so common and so perfectly displayed. Their actions are so simply analogous to their daily routines. This wasn?t the first time such an image has spun me into thoughts of people, of life, of the world, but this one was vivid and I?ll never forget it.

Another image I?ll hold onto was found while I was sitting and reading my book. Actually since I was reading such a thought provoking book, maybe the simplicity of the event wasn?t the only responsible stimulant. Nevertheless, I paused from reading to watch the ocean. The only thing I could see out the window was water. I couldn?t see the ocean?s end, because it faded into the fog. There was really no point at which I could say the ocean ended and the fog began. It was just a massive transition from blue to grey.

I was impressed by the size of it, as I always am when I go to watch the ocean. I find the immensity of the ocean can always be counted on to reveal the insignificance in those things, which often seem too big to handle.

Anyway, the moment I?ll remember, was when I rolled my focus from the ocean outside, to the window itself. I saw drops of rain collected and some were even streaming down the glass. The same water that made up the massiveness of everything; was right here in front of me in its simplicity. All the while, I was looking right past it, right through it!

Suddenly visiting the ocean fit even more perfectly. The massiveness of the ocean isn?t merely a means of reference; it is a perception. The water can be massive or small, depending on how it is perceived.

Even more, the massiveness is a collection of the small things, the complex a collection of the simple things. The moment I?ll remember is when I realized the raindrops that make up the ocean, and the stresses of my life that that the ocean simplifies, are even more connected than I had realized.

It became permanently obvious to me that the greatest problems of the world are a collection of the tiniest problems each of us has. Not the problems these or those people have, but the ones you and I have. Our insecurities, our prejudices, our greed, our dishonesty. These things, in their presumed relative innocence are together the massiveness of all that is wrong.

These thoughts were humbling and wrapped a thin coat of guilt over me. However, in the long run I feel good. The image of the rain, the window and the ocean, becomes a reminder and the guilt, as always, will make me better.

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