THE LIFE FORCE
by Scot Bastian © 2015
Camp Althing in Hushville at 5:15 and E.
I sit under the palm trees, breathing in the trade winds, as the cirrus clouds sweep by calling, calling, ever so quietly: come. Bring your dreams to the ocean, my friend. Come to the sea. My eyes open and the sun is falling and the fish jump to escape the sea lions and the sea lions flee the sharks. Come, come to me. Poseidon, my father, you are so deep. So blue. So kind. So limitless. With the foam hissing on the shore and the waves rising and falling. I ask why?
Never mind the why, just tell me when.
Such are my dreams.
It is hard to imagine time.
From molten marble, to pale blue dot
the rumbling Earth awakens from its fiery past. It is also hard to imagine liquid rock.
To parse time into increments does it a disservice, for each moment is infinitely divisible.
Four and a half billion years.
Did I begin with a bang?
The crack of a lightning bolt
striking a pond of dark ooze?
Or did I begin with a bubble
clinging to the edge of a volcanic vent?
Perhaps I started elsewhere
arriving on an ancient meteor originating from another planet.
I guess I’ll never know,
but I wonder.
Molecules break apart, then recombine.
Rare events that seem to defy entropy.
But the sun can reverse entropic chaos.
Patterns are formed. Order from disorder. Repeating units. Molecular arrays.
My life force traverses through millennia.
Then the sun goes and the sky blackens and my eyes close. I dream of mermaids and mermen skipping through the surf. Playing games of tag and singing songs. Joyous chortling and catching breaths. The sea never stops, you know, mermen and mermaids never die. They never stop cavorting through the waves. They also never eat, living in a continuous state of delight, giggling and guffawing forever. A mad loop of laughter and frantic swimming. Their favorite game is tag, but everyone wants to be “it.” They so love to chase. They never tire. They never cease.
Such are my dreams.
And here I swim at the edge of the sea
Not quite a land dweller, yet not a typical fish.
I am a mudskipper.
When the tide is low there are many things to see.
The bones of my mind are exposed.
I wish to crawl freely onto the land, but I am attached.
It will take many years until I can emerge freely.
Then she arises as Botticelli’s Venus from the clam shell. I, waiting like a child. Wanting. Wanting it so. And she smiles. Botticelli’s Venus, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and the countless Virgin Marys all bear the same smile. It is the smile of Earth-mother ever expecting. Let me lie in your arms Goddess-of-all. Gaia. Demeter. Diana, Goddess of the Moon. Can I just curl up in your arms? Can I be your child and feel the warmth of your breast. Caress me, not like a God, but hold me like a mother. Come Mother, and find me. And she does.
Such are my dreams.
In the tide pool, the sea stars have nowhere to go, nor do they want to. But I gulp spoons of warm sunshine, and gaze longingly at the shore. I break the surface with a rapid exhalation of breath. I crawl from my saltwater birthplace, carrying the salt within my veins. I cannot escape the sea—I carry it with me. I am newly-born. Emergent! I am cold mother. I walk the sand on the beach. Am I the child of the fish or the cousin of the mudskipper? The frog prince. My ventral sacs swell as I push out air. It is not a croak, it is a song. Others respond and we multiply. My skin hardens, as I breathe more freely. I walk slowly munching on the jungle. Now, so tall I can reach the canopy. Roaring with the gods! But, like the gods, I am arrogant, and thus fade. Fade away. Raging fires always blow out. Embers burn slowly, red hot, but inconspicuous, I live in the shadows of giants. Did my ancestors nibble on the eggs of the terrible lizards, contributing to their demise?
When I first escaped the ocean did I know that some my descendants would crawl back?
Are the dinosaurs the ghosts of birds? When the mighty fall I take wing. Soaring in the atmosphere, I look down not at the smallness of all things, but at the largeness of the expanse. The wind rushes through me. I am drawn again to the seashore. I light upon the cliff face and stuff bits of crab into my nestlings mouths. They are such beggars. They rustle their wings, nearly casting each other off the cliff side. I turn a gaze at the sea. The waves crash, exploding on the cliff.
My nose wiggles and my tail grows. I learn to scurry and then to run, launching onto my rear haunches I lean forward the wind whistling and then roaring through my hair. I plop down and survey the scene. Cycads and lichens abound. I gaze at the curl of the horizon and want more.
When the tide is low there are many things to see. When spirits are low and exposed, like driftwood washing onto the beach, my smooth, white, desires bake in the sun. The gulls call and drop from the sky, poking around, seeking bits of rotting fish and beached crabs. The air is rank and heavy, like a salty barnyard with fish-soaked silage. Stones and sand are interspersed with bits of glass rendered smooth by the waves grinding in the tumble of churning sand. The horizon curves into infinity, stretching in all directions. But I look to the sea. The sun shines, but it has no carefully circumscribed edge. I close my eyes again.
Such are my dreams.
My parents sort, and pair off, performing the love dance and the gene shuffle.
And I am conceived.
I dig into the wall of mother’s uterus, a spelunker in the primordial cave.
I dig deeper, releasing enzymes that allow me to burrow and implant.
Can I want, or do I only exist?
Can a fetus ask a question?
And now, I am man.
But what is man?
How far back do I go?
I am the sum of all my ancestors.
I am not the endpoint.
The journey is not over.
The life force continues to transform and grow.
How long will the journey last?
How can I know?
Perhaps, I will reach for the stars…Such are my dreams.