Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Because at times he felt as though he were hitchhiking across the ocean.
As if a half-drunk street juggler had once told him of an island, and having no boat of his own, and having more will than intellect, he had thrown himself into the sea and begun to swim. The sun lashing at his back, his eyes like leaking canteens of delusion. He pulled himself through the waters, ignoring exhaustion, ignoring predators, focused on an individual inch of the horizon in the hopes it would begin to draw closer, and nearer.
Occasionally, a boat would appear, and he would be pulled in by the crew. The boat would carry him for awhile, but inevitably it would toss him overboard, or sink, or perhaps his own unsatisfied wanderlust would get the best of him once more, and he would slip over the side and begin to swim until the next vessel came along.
And he’d been out there for years, alternately crawl-stroking or joining the ranks of the merchant marine, some of the ships encountered repeatedly and the deck hands slapping him across the back and marveling that he was still out there.
No sailor he met ever discouraged him from the notion that the island he sought was out there. Many of them swore blind that they knew exactly the island he spoke of; that there had been a captain he’d served under who had found the place and never left, or a boatswain who claimed that a mermaid had given him the compass reading to the island once, but he had refused to marry her, refused to live beneath the sea in her saltwater affection, so she had stolen the heading away and cursed him to live the rest of his days on land. But when he asked if they knew how to find it, they each answered the same: you’re on your own, boyo. We’ll take you as far as the next reef and then let you continue as you’ve always done.
So with years of ocean in his skin, his limbs like populated continents of fatigue, he continued moving towards mirages and planks of detritus.
And he wondered if it was strength or weakness that kept him afloat and upright, cutting through the waves.
He wondered if he had the strength, if at last it came to that, to allow himself to drown.