Friday, July 13, 2012

Two Men in a Canoe

Two men in a canoe are paddling their way through a pristine lake in the wilderness, one named Johannes and the other Jacobus.  They’ve gone off the grid, from one world into another, and they’re loving every minute of it.  Science would say that the boat is in motion while the shoreline and coniferous backdrop are stationary, yet two souls are transfixed as flora and fauna seem to float by, like the world passing in review and inviting reflection on life’s experiences and lessons along the way.  Inevitably, and continually, the familiar metaphors suggest themselves, metaphors well-worn but no less insightful.  The river of life, with its twists and turns, carries them to an unknown destiny, while new opportunities for exploration beckon from each shore.    What’s just beyond the bend in the river?  What will they discover?

Johannes, surveying the landscape with wide-eyed Aristotelian wonder, comments as is his wont on the vegetation like an amateur botanist.  “Let me know if you’re not interested in such details,” says the sternman to the bowman.  “I’ll keep thinking these thoughts, of course, but I’ll keep them to myself.”  Jacobus does not respond, for he is aware that Johannes very well knows the answer to his own question.  It’s a ritual.  They take in nature by both getting lost in the details and eyeing the breadth of nature's bounty from the summit.  A few bloodroot flowers shooting out of a shoreline shrub arrest their attention.  But they're not merely extending their gaze outward.  Two introverts look within, like Platonists searching for the ideal forms behind the beauty, often discovering that their true desires are not as translucent as the water lapping up against their canoe.  Likewise, their metaphysical state is not as serene as the virescent scenery in their purview, though the latter is certainly working its magic on the former.  Both men have had a similar spiritual journey, even if they arrived at the same place in their own way.  They look ahead and see another bend in the river.  What’s up ahead?  Troubled waters or the best campsite ever?   The journey is not over.  Up river is another experience they'll share, perhaps something to laugh about around the campfire.  Friendship is thus.