the lake around which are a thousand tiny fires Nov 16, 2011

It used to be that you could sail forever in any direction and find islands. You could step off the deck onto the sand (in the moonlight) and walk into a jungle that was new forever in any direction and find beaches. If you did these things, as I did, you would become lost, wandering along the twisting branches of the World Tree which at every point looks flat. There is deception everywhere, and it can feel wonderful to be lost.

They say that the lake today is the filled crater of that older world. It is dark always, but we eke electricity from the air and the water. We trade and steal and sail endlessly through the wind, floating on a warm sea (a world of thick muffled echoes for the fish and the drowned). It is a dull existence in the shadow of great things long past.

I dream always of the shore. Somewhere there must be left a great curving bank of sand, licked by the tide. And inland, trees. People are sitting around fires, under the palms with leaves wide and slick with rain. They wonder at the points of light on the horizon, bobbing and blinking, perhaps as I have hoped that each one I have seen might mean land. It is always another ship.

It came as a crushing revelation to me, and I sat down for it, that it is a lake with no shore, and that there are no jungles, no ferns, or palms, or fires. Only the burn of tungsten filaments above deck, bobbing stars on the horizon. Only the black forever wind and the warm water of a dead world. And it was in that moment of clarity which I realized we would have to go down, into death, to find the old world. We will have to combine our ships and create our own land, raising beacons to the others still lost. Hope will well up within us and we will seem unstoppable. And we shall drain away the ocean and live everywhere, as it once was.


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