is one of Paul Theroux “travel” books. I loved it and recommend that along with The Happy Isles of Oceania and The Pillars of Hercules. I captioned travel because he doesn’t do travel books in the normal sense. Focusing instead on the people he meets. The situations he finds himself in and the social-geographical climate he encounters. There’s no line about what particular cathedral or castle/landmark to visit as far as I can remember.
In kingdom by the sea, one aspect that he had trouble getting his head around was this fascination of people who drive to the seaside and then stay in their cars watching the sea. I had never thought it odd but in retrospect I suppose it is unusual. Of course many get out and walk along the promenade or the beach. But others simply sit and stare. Essentially Theroux’s hypothesis is they/we are staring at infinity and the wonder beyond.
Culture has moved on, now we no longer sit and stare. (as much) When the climber reaches the top of the cliff, he is no longer there just to view the awe inspiring landscape but legs akimbo, launches himself off the edge. The French of course turned it into art. When the diver meets the Ocean or the Sea he no longer stares but dives in and down. Onwards goes the exploration. The blue water sailor only happy when he has sea room and no sight of land, the silence and mystery of the worlds Oceans enveloping him. Only now is he free.
Free to what? Free of gravity, free of the terrestrial earth, free of land, free of judgement, stress or worry. Free to be human or be more than human. Free to glimpse magic of an intensity not yet known, free to experience the very fabric of life itself.
It’s nearly the end of the first month of 2014. The time when most new years resolutions fail or have failed. But now more than ever, it’s time to jump in.