Destination

20 06 2017

How shall I know
   Unless I go
To Cairo and Cathay
   Whether or not
This blessed spot
   is blessed in every way?
–Edna St. Vincent Millay

I’ve walked along the black sanded beaches of Hawaii, and floated a gondola down the canals of Venice.  I swayed atop a camel around the Great Pyramid of Cheops, and carefully navigated a car right through the base of a mighty sequoia.  I stood atop a glacier in Iceland, and I’ve run from elephants in Kenya.  I’ve been witness to the ostentatious consumerism of Las Vegas, and the abject destitution of a shanty town in South Africa.  In Greece I climbed the heights of the Parthenon; in Rome I explored the depths of the catacombs.  Behind a speedboat I was tugged into the air high above the azure seas of Acapulco, and I knelt on the cold floor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

I’ve loved every aspect of my travels, even with hindsight, the frantic one a.m. searches for a place to rest my head, the missed flights, the attempted pickpocketings, and the anxiety of trying to find a friend in a foreign city with the sketchiest of plans.

Because of changes in my life over the last few years, it’s unlikely that I’ll be doing much traveling for a time.  There remain a few places that I’d like to go, and one place that I must go.

In the “Like to go” category, I’d like to travel to the southern most tip of Argentina, Tierra Del Fuego, and board an ice cutter headed further south still.  I’d like to see the iridescent blue of the icebergs of Antarctica before we melt them all to make way for more refineries.  I want to open my eyes against the sting of bitter cold and witness the Aurora Australis, the Southern Lights.

But there is the other place, the place I have to go to, the journey I must make alone:  I intend to go nowhere.  I don’t mean Nowhere, Kansas.  I’ve been there with my kids; it’s a sign in the middle of a farmer’s field by railroad tracks that says “Nowhere.”

No.  By nowhere, I mean 24° North, 43° West, the middle of the Atlantic ocean.  There I would be almost a thousand miles from the next human being, 1200 miles from Africa’s Cape Verde islands, 1200 miles from Europe’s Azores, and 1200 miles from the Bermudas of North America.  Even the commercial shipping lanes are routed far to the north and south of this spot.

In that place, I will lower my sail, halt the boat’s progress, and spend time listening to the waves lapping against the hull and the ropes slapping against the mast.  There I will soak in silence and allow it to wash away the last few years.

 

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