16 October 2010

Get to the sea

Moby Dick
by Herman Melville
(First Paragraph)
"Call me Ishmael. Some years ago - never mind how long precisely - having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me."


Call me Ismael. The opening line of Moby Dick has forever resonated in my mind. I first read the book, Moby Dick in my early teen years. I remember being captivated by the power of the statement made by a guy, who at the time I believed to be a grounded person; a person who chose contemplation as a means of navigating life, and knew when it was time to make healthy changes. I didn't grasp all the metaphors and references until I reread it later in life. Like Ishmael, I have learned the common sense of first attempting to understand the nature of something before finding fault with it. The whale has always had different names and appearances at different stages of life, but it has always been there.

It is no coincidence that I have chosen to open my blog with the words, "Call me Rotterdyke."  I am after all a middle-aged lesbian that has taken to sailing the watery part of the world and exploring my identity.  Only difference is that now I am doing so in the Netherlands instead of my cozy land-locked home in America. I anticipate this to be the greatest adventure of my life and I want to remain open to what sails my way.

I am American, but not the Captain Ahab type that we know will meet his own demise with hubris and an obsession to conquer. Perhaps I am more like the Ishmael character that has had my own share of anger, frustrations, disappointments and the inevitable depression and sadness that pride, agression and prejudice create. I'd like to think that along the way I have acquired constructive means to navigate and thrive in the murky waters and confront those larger-than-life fears and unknowns. After all, fear and ignorance often drive agression and prejudice.

I guess my primary goal right now is to remain afloat and organize my notes of what's happening around me. But enough about me, the documentation of this voyage, the people I meet, the culture of the place, and the events lived are much more interesting.

It's high time to get to sea.

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