I am not afraid of the storm, for I am learning to sail my ship. Louisa May Alcott
I recently came across that quote and it stayed with me. Not only did this quote force my adult self, with its understanding of free will, to reevaluate my perception of Amy March (she is no longer just the Laurie stealing oh-no-she-diduhnt sister), but it brought to mind comforting nautical references. From Genesis (Noah) and The Book Job to The Perfect Storm, from Homer to Shakespeare (who loved a good shipwreck) to Melville or even the celestial sailings of Winken, Blinken, Nod and Opus, literary works have used the sea and boats as a vast slew of devices – symbols, allegories, tropes and you name its. The sea, the shore, sailing – all are able to have several different meanings: vastness, redemption, opportunity, hardship, a vestige of what was once unconquered and also travel and former lives, the unknown, journeys both physical and figurative, and water, lots and lots of water.
Two of my favorite poems are asea, or at least on the way to the shore – OHara’s To The Harbormaster and Mansfield’s Sea Fever. Mansfield captures draw of the sea, the need to be moving – “And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by” “for the call of the running tide/Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied.” O’Connor’s narrator/navigator, like lots of us or at least definitely me, is, despite the best of intentions to reach shore/something/someone, “always tying up/ and then deciding to depart.” The last three sentence of the poem have always reassured me. I remain a bent optimist, hoping that the past tense in the last verb means that the navigator has finally reached his destination, like Bloom or Odysseus, while realizing that doesn’t not preclude more storms in the forecast.
. . . To
you I offer my hull and the tattered cordage
of my will. The terrible channels where
the wind drives me against the brown lips
of the reeds are not all behind me. Yet
I trust the sanity of my vessel; and
if it sinks, it may well be in answer
to the reasoning of the eternal voices,
the waves which have kept me from reaching you.
I’ve realized that the sea, or occasionally a lake but a very large, Great lake, is a gravitational pull to me. Wherever I have lived, I have found myself by the sea or at a port. Even as a lowly amateur photographer, I’ve realized I am good at taking two types of shots. Those are shots of random happenings – whether its when street signs send you a message like the highway sign in LA Stories or a heart made out of string seen randomly during a walk – and seascapes. I have a friend who is a true social documentarian – she can photograph people, places and things. Me, I’m working on expanding, but realized that the majority of my pictures are of harbors, boats and the sea. The slideshow above is the sea and lakes from various places. Below, random stuff.