There is the shore and then the harbor with its hustle and bustle of activity. The boats come and go, the men work hard on the docks, the lobsters are brought in, and the children play on the sand and climb the rocks. The people part of the shore is always busy and noisy, something people bring with them wherever they go. It’s oddly comforting and helps me to forget.
But just beyond it all is that great blue openness. The ocean looms as far as the eye can see and farther still. There may be land on the other side somewhere, but what difference does it make when hundreds and thousands of miles of blue swallow up everything in between? The land on the other side might as well be on Mars because that’s as close as I’ll come to it.
|The great beyond.|
The shore always provides “reasons,” and reasons mean “safety.” There are reasons to work and reasons to eat and reasons to play. There is concrete evidence of our activity--where we’ve been and where we’re heading. But most of all, there are boundaries, and humans love boundaries, even though they say they don’t. A boundary closes us in. It keeps us safe and protected. The area within the boundary is a known, well-traveled area without too many surprises. Anything fearful within the boundary can be planned for and dealt with, and the area on the outside of the boundary is not allowed inside.
But it’s always there, looming. Like the massiveness of the Sun in comparison to the Earth, what’s outside the boundary looms ominously against the shore. It’s an unknown, and the worst part is that it has no “reasons” to give us. There’s nothing concrete there, no hustle and bustle, nothing which must be done, no evidence of the existence of man. It is no wonder that some sailors go mad.
Staring out beyond the boundary, I see only a blank. My eyes are closed, of course, because eyes are useless against the great divide. But in my mind, I see the blank. I feel the blank. I know it’s there. If I position myself toward the shore, eyes still shut tightly, I feel the boundary and the people and the busy work. If I turn toward the nothingness, I feel it as a huge pressure bearing down upon me. It’s a feeling of massive uncertainty, of emptiness.
We all try to not look at it or think about it too often, though. We concentrate on the known, and this gives us comfort. After all, how can you think about nothing?