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Inner Peace :  

finding harmony within, on the outer coast of life  

              

                 "Perhaps the closest I ever came to feeling the freedom and flow of the untrammeled spirit on earth were times I spent kayaking the outer coast, where the lift and drop of the endless swell raises you up and takes you down in a gentle, soothing motion; where you can sit in your boat within this calming medium, out as far as the furthest reefs, where the ocean pounds against the enduring loneliness of these last and isolate members of the continent, away from it all and sitting unscathed by the crashing waves, wrapped in a timeless stillness that will gather you up and remove you forever from the distant shore if you open up and tap into its remoteness.

                Out there, alone but for the sea and sky and nothing to scar the infinite expanse which swallows you up and makes you a part of it. Out there, where only the occasional puffin or albatross comes around to remind you that other life still exists, that you have not paddled through a door in the void nor come into that place of forgetfulness and absence to which the weary soul so longs to go.

                Out there, where the cadence of the paddle hauls you in and you lose yourself in the act, and the paddle takes over while you merely hold on and wonder where you’ve gone.

                The sea is a lonely place, almost as lonely as God. Perhaps that is why we are drawn to sit beside it and look out to nowhere, so as to feel the type of absence which the spirit calls home. A home which is far from all else, and that is why we fear to go there, for it is a home where no one else lives, no one visits, and only the wind comes by occasionally to remind us of its kinship. A home without rooms, or walls, or furniture. An emptiness to which we are all drawn like Icarus to the sun. Only we do not melt and crash, but instead we dissipate and rise, forever after inhabiting only the remote and untouched areas of the earth, if indeed we come down at all.

                There is foreign lostness to the outer coast, which sings softly to the tune of our alien existences, to our eternal wanderings in the oceanic self. You can go out there only once and get caught out there forever, and even if your body returns to the world and to work, and continues to love, and eat, and sleep, and lives out the rest of your life, you will remain out in the swells and the space, out in the lost reaches of the heart, where neither hurt nor love has ever gone. And you stay out there because of this, because to come back means to love and die all over again, because that is what happens when you cannot control your care.

                And so your body returns to your friends and family who know not that you have buried yourself at sea, have set your spirit adrift into the warm abyss where nothing matters and you can breathe again and let the world go on its melancholic way.

                What I found out there was the part of me which could not endure life- the part which wanted to fix it all and knew it was not fixable, the part of me that wanted to heal the endless agony, the part which could not accept the world for what it was and therefore had to die or leave it.

                Out there I found myself smiling a soft smile I had never experienced before, a smile which came neither from joy, nor victory, nor laughter, but which came from the end of struggle, and the end of pain; it was the subtle and almost imperceptible smile of a soldier after the battle is over, a battle in which neither side has gained any ground, but only slaughtered each other until the few remaining troops had to stop and sign a truce; it was a smile that no longer needed to be aroused by anything, because it came after everything else had been removed, and therefore would never again leave; it was a smile that did not belong to the body, nor the mind, nor the earth, nor even the heavens, it was a smile that belonged to no one but ...me.

                What I found out there was a place where it all fell away and only a huge, cathartic sigh remained, a sigh which would go on forever because the world would go on forever, and there was nothing that could be done, and that part of me I found out there was courageous enough to finally accept this, to sigh, and to look out away into the untroubled distance and to never look back. And that is why I am always out there. No matter where my body is, or what I am doing, that part of me is still out there, sitting in the slowly rocking swells, out past the anguish of the furthest reef, with my bow pointed west, towards nothing, and I look without seeing, listen without hearing, and feel without joy, need, nor pain."

 

Excerpted from IN, AND OF, by Jack Haas           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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