Dear Esther. This
island is sprawling, rocky, misshapen like a green/grey ink blot on a
blue expanse. I breathe in white plumes of in-rolling mist. I shiver at
the stark beauty of the land, the sea, the flowing brooks. These dark
shadows which move and hover may or may not be ghosts... This island
appears to be mine to explore alone. Words are spoken, solemn – As
confession? Warning? Fragment atop fragment, eventual cohesion – or not;
for it is interpretation, after all.
An island in the Outer Hebrides
-- symbolic of isolation. Heather, rocks, sand, and a voice. The voice
describes some of the former inhabitants -- a monk, a hermit, those who
were shipwrecked. Does isolation have a different character if you
choose it, rather than having it forced upon you?
Four chapters encompass the
whole: Lighthouse, Buoy, Caves and Beacon. A sometimes perilous journey
from the sea edge to the summit. Shepherd, Cartographer, Hermit,
Traveller: listen to their stories while you walk. Come back, for
the sea does not want you. Damascus is... here? On dry ground. No
inventory to weigh you down. No run, no jump, no speak. Listen, for it
is quiet. Walk, or else remain rooted. Come back.
Yes, and there are paths
everywhere. Some obvious, others not. None beaten, exactly, but I like
walking near the edges rather than down the straightway. I've seen
creatures that fly, but none that trudge or swim. Everything that
breathes is transient. Heather and wild flowers. Are those wax flowers?
No, but I'm waxing flowery.
At the lighthouse, I try to pick
up a book. I can't lift it. I can't turn knobs or shift planks either. I
know I have hands because I hold a flashlight. And I have feet because I
hear my own footsteps. When I fall, I hear myself gasping for air. I
should be thankful that I can still hear and see.
Dear Esther. The caves. I wish
that you might see them, share them. They are green and blue and white.
They shimmer with water and sparkle with ice. Stalactites and
stalagmites. Dive in, swim, crawl, in amazement, in breathless wonder,
in awe. Follow the small paper boat to where so many others cluster,
bottlenecked. I will fold an 'A' into the creases. Follow the path which
leads out to the moon.
This voice is sonorous, deep,
all at once reflective. It may grow angered, for the story that it tells
it finds distressing, sometimes. No lifeless monotone, this; no
cardboard faker; no half-hearted drear. It is steeped in experience,
pain, regret, acceptance, non-acceptance.
Aching, melancholy strings,
woven, textural, subtle and soaring. Dear Esther, this music that
surrounds us is bleak and beautiful, moving and magnificent. No cheap
synthesiser, this; no plastic drum, that; no broad cacophony. Its purity
is fitting to this landscape.
A light is blinking at the end
of the island. Why is it there? Perhaps I'm not alone. The light means
hope. I'm sure of it!
I have been on the road to
Damascus. I am the hermit who threw his arms open and the cliff parted.
From two to four hours, from dawn to night. A lifetime in an echo of
ecstasy and regret.
And if you have searched well
and worn down your boot leather, you might yet reach the summit with a
wider understanding. And each journey that you take might yet differ
subtly in its narration. And certain objects that you pass by on your
way might not be there, or new ones shall take their place. The song
remains the same. The end remains the same. Climb.
Dear Esther. Come back...
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