Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February 3, 2016 - The Piper's Toll


Living on the coast of the Atlantic in the cold north of the country is like . . . well, there is no adequate explanation or comparison.  It is a unique area with a unique ecosystem.  On the days when the cold and rain come and the fog rises, the landscape is otherworldly.

Sometimes I can’t see more than 10 feet in front of me.  As I walk, the world seems to crash toward me.  Simple things like trees and boulders and roads suddenly become apparent, and just as suddenly, they disappear completely.  Looking over my shoulder to where I came from or how far I’ve gone is an impossibility.

Toll bridge just ahead.

The further I walk in this weather, the more time seems to slip away.  I know that when I get to the large boulder on the right, I have 30 more minutes of walking to go.  But the pond just off to the left and five minutes from the boulder cannot be seen.  Did I pass it already?  That would mean I have about 25 more minutes to go.  But what if I didn’t pass it?  How long have I been walking?  Actually, I’m not sure.  There should be that blue house off in the distance, but . . . that’s impossible to see.  Am I still going in right direction?  I’m not sure if I remember the bend in the road being this wide . . .

And this is how it happens.  What would you do if you ventured out without any electronic apparatus?  Should you turn around and go back?  Back where?  Are you sure you can retrace your steps exactly?  Should you keep going forward?  How long will it take?  What if you really did make a wrong turn?  How far should you backtrack before continuing on again?

Suddenly, time disappears altogether.  It could be 10 o’clock in the morning or 2 o’clock in the afternoon.  There’s no way to tell, really.  The sun is nowhere to be found.  Not today, anyway.  The interesting thing is that once time is suspended entirely and the mind accepts that, a whole new area opens up in your brain for thoughts.  It seems time must occupy a lot of our thinking, but once it’s gone, then there are only thoughts.  No more tick tock.  No more “have to” do this or that by such and such time.  Just thoughts.

If you find yourself in the middle of a lonely road in Maine, on a terribly foggy day on the coast of the Atlantic, with fog horns in the distance and water lapping somewhere on the shore, walking in a direction you are unsure of, having lost all semblance of time and obligation, no longer sure of where you came from or where you’re going, you had better hope that you like yourself.  Because if you do not, there is nothing to distract you from your true reality.

The Piper’s toll is extravagant.

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