THE SHARKS

No, I’m not lonely.

Always I’m enveloped by, swathed in this living spirit. It involves an abnormal wakefulness, a waking to absolute clarity.  I see with my eyes this all-pervading, all-sustaining force in everything around me – in the flying fish, the gulls, each leaf on a tree, in the tidal ebb and flow, in the moon’s complicated path as she embraces the water and sucks it to herself – and what I see is spirit, for it is the very force of life – the élan vital.  It is the life-spirit, life itself, which forms my encompassment and my company.

Today a mathematician or an astronomer can calculate with the greatest exactness Mercury’s position in the zodiac on the fourth of April in the year 2013.  We know the earth’s path and Saturn’s position of two centuries ago; we know the mathematical laws and physical forces, and we can express them in formulae, numbers, and graphs, we compute the wind’s force in feet per second and the speed of the ocean waves in knots; but all our symbols and numerical relations, our log-tables and decimals – they are not the thing, not the living, all-sustaining spirit, not the spirit which upholds the cosmos. Our numbers and relations between them are merely our translation of the reality, of the bird’s flight, the starlight, the wind’s force. They are reality’s mighty, living, cosmic language rendered into that language of numbers, symbols and formulae which our brains normally understand and speak.

It took me many years to understand that what I saw in this way, I was alone in. Only as an adult did I learn not to mention it, to keep it to myself to avoid ridicule.

And to me these are not thoughts which I’ve puzzled out on the afterdeck under the stars during quiet watches, or read myself into during free hours in my cabin. They are simply things which I’ve seen. Unshakable experience. Thus the world is for me.

But now don’t think me a dreamer, a visionary remote from life, unfit for earth and reality and the everyday. Not so: I read a log-table or a nautical almanac just as attentively, ply my earthly craft just as faithfully and responsibly, as any man who ever set foot on deck.

But there are many men on the sea whose thoughts are their own.

Jens Bjørneboe, The Sharks.

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