Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sea Stories as a Form of Learning

Morning Over the Irish Sea (M.A. Reilly, 2009)

“It wasn’t, of course, the beginning, for who can say where a voyage begins—not the actual passage but the dream of a journey and its urge to find a way” (William Least Heath-Moon, River Horse: The Logbook of a Boat Across America, 2001. p. 4)


I don't know what my reaction was when I first saw the sea.  Nor can I know with any certainty where that first sighting happened. Perhaps that is why I have such a fondness for stories. They open spaces and allow for untold possibility.  Being human and incomplete, I know that such gifts are hard to turn away.

And so I'm telling you here that the first sighting may or may not have been the Irish Sea. Born less than a mile from it and then next residing in Dublin for a few years--the chances are high, yes?  Or perhaps I first spied the sea when the plane lifted, banked towards the west, away from what had been home, lifted that November day from the Dublin airport. I like to imagine that below the wing, the sea green sea spread like a Walter Kuhlman painting, you know that murky dark painting of his,  Sunset on the Irish Sea, 1976 . That lovely work with just the hint of soft impossible light.


We are all soft impossible light some days. And it is the impossible I often seek as I know that no one can tell me the truth of that day, of that leaving.


What I do recall is that the first time I felt the sea was some years later when I now lived in the United States. I'm with my family and some friends of my parents and we are at the Shore, the Jersey shore. Lavallette, I suspect. I'm playing, lying in the sand, when a wave washes over me.

A baptism of sorts, my da would say. Perhaps the best sort.

This recollection too is a construction of parts: recall of what I have been told.  A picture I found. A juxtaposition of truths.

For stories can be true, especially when we know so little.
Stories are always true, even when they are filled with lies.


Not knowing allows for possibility. I return to the sea each year, a journey in which I feel so transient. A passport forgotten.

I am rarely home when I am far from the sea.

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