Here I am, locked in isolation, or so it seems. My isolation is more akin to a ragman in a colony of nudists. If I should remove patchwork labels from my body and forehead I’m afraid I couldn’t bear the darts of recognition. What’s there to recognise? I ask myself almost every second day. The days between I try to remember the question. When I remember, it always begins with the hissing of brain static. It’s not a fit, more like an unfit – a dislodging, a space to hear the static.
So, that’s how it was! Nobody had ever told me how we got here. With the brain static easing, I can feel my family roots and somehow they don’t belong here. I understand now how my ancestors had crossed the Great Ocean and arrived here. That sounds pretty plausible, but there is a problem. Nobody here – not the priest, the teacher, the doctor, the scientist, the politician, the philosopher, the butcher, the baker and the USB stick maker believes there is such a place – beyond the Ocean. This is only half of the problem. The other is that nobody here believes anyone had come from anywhere before. They all believe that they have always been here, from the time of protozoa to the time of silicon cells. Indeed, the prevailing thought of this country is Always Here and Now. I suppose it’s simple logic really, when you consider that if there is no other place than here then how could anybody come from elsewhere. Where is the elsewhere? If you can’t orient this place called elsewhere with a compass, then it can’t exist.
Where is this other place? My old friends used to ask me this at all hours of the night. I believe that they were trying to bring me back to my senses, or should I say back to their senses. They warned me that if I continued on this path I’d discover madness. As if I have any choice in it. I told them, there must be something more significant than the rest of experience otherwise my life is just one dimensional… it lacks relief, the bumps that tell you it’s solid and not just paper. So, what was more significant than anything else in my sphere of attention? So, what’s the use of significance? Does having a meaning make bread taste any better? Would the coffee be better if it was drunk by a saint rather than a monkey? What if I didn’t have any bread or coffee, does meaning, significance make starvation any better?
Whatever it is, I’m heading home – wherever it is. It is difficult to speak freely about this other place because every statement about it rocks the foundation logic of this continent. From the admission of this other place, comes other admissions – through the backdoor, so to speak. These include that which was black is now white, and that the inner is the outer. Indeed, a complete reversal of one’s beliefs. In a world where nothing else exists but itself, the entrance of another place, another world obliterates it.
I know now, my ancestors lived on an island that was destroyed aeons ago. Only a few of the islanders survived the complete submersion. They were the fishermen who being far enough away were not sucked under with their island. The survivors made their way across the ocean waiting for a fortunate wind. Fortunate because without it they’d remain still in the Great Ocean without a home. With a wind they may strike some land, anywhere. They didn’t know where they were headed, only that they were alive and hoping to land somewhere.
Forty days and nights in the wilderness. Forty days and nights it takes for the quickening of a full human form in a womb. Forty days and nights it takes an Orthodox soul to clear up its unfinished business here before it finally leaves its body to become dust. For forty days and nights they rowed, they prayed and thanked the fortunate wind.
The arc of coincidence stretched across angels’ wings. Priests turn their heads to Jerusalem while the fishermen turned with the ocean wind. A fisherman’s ambition is as large as the ocean. When he scans the reddening horizon sometimes he perceives a rhythm of the waves and the pulse of red dwindling in the sunset. He throws away the concerns that like tombstones hang over memories.
And now, here I am, locked in isolation, or so it seems. Goggles won’t protect your vision here, only grace and prayer can.