Lulled into such an opium-like listlessness of vacant, unconscious reverie is this absent-minded youth by the blending cadence of waves with thoughts, that at last he loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for the visible image of that deep, blue, bottomless soul, pervading mankind and nature; and every strange, half seen gliding beautiful thing that eludes him; every dimly discovered uprising fin of soome undiscernible form seems to him the embodiment of those elusive thoughts that only people the soul by continually flitting through it.  In this enchanted mood, thy spirit ebbs away to whence it came; becomes diffused through time and space;

The Mast Head, Chapter 35

I have a memory of lying on my back under the window by my bed at the age of five.  Not a vague memory, but a distinct moment, the kind you can almost physically step back into.

I lay there still as a corpse watching the dust in the air float and drift and catch the sunlight.  I wondered what it would feel like to be so light, so incorporeal.  Drifting on air, lit by the sun.  My eyes would follow one speck of dust and then another and I wondered if each speck contained a universe as incomprehensible to me as I would be to them.

You cannot capture dust in your hand, only trace it with your eyes, ride it in your mind.

According to, ADD (predominantly inattentive type) is described as having the following symptoms:

  • Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly.
  • Often does not follow instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace (not due to oppositional behavior or failure to understand instructions).
  • Often has trouble organizing activities.
  • Often avoids, dislikes, or doesn’t want to do things that take a lot of mental effort for a long period of time. . .
  • Often loses things needed for tasks and activities
  • Is often easily distracted.
  • Is often forgetful in daily activities
“Pay attention.”. . .”What were you thinking?”. . .”I just told you, weren’t you listening?”. . .”Where have you been?”. . .”Why didn’t you tell me?”. . .”I can’t believe you just forgot.”

That same year, that year of age five, such a life shifting year, I saw a stage production of The Miracle Worker and fell headlong into a fantasy of being a blind deaf mute.  I fantasized about the glorious peace and isolation.  And, really, think how little would be expected of you.  That really appealed to me.

See no evil.  Hear no evil.  Speak no evil.  It was the trifecta of blamelessness.

Identity seemed such a responsibility.  Having an identity made you vulnerable.  I was always one of those who, given the choice, would pick invisibility over flying as my super power.  I heard somewhere that this demonstrates I am shifty, can’t be trusted.  I tell my radio that it is wrong, wrong wrong when it says such things to me.  “You don’t get it”, I explain to my dashboard.

There was an interview which I cannot track down now because I don’t remember enough of the details (ADD).  The man being interviewed said we have become so egocentric.  Facebook, Twitter, blogs, we fall headlong into own own monologues.  “Just look ,” said the man being interviewed, “at all these books coming out now that are in first person—you wouldn’t see that one hundred years ago.”

. . .“Call me Ishmael.”

It’s not arrogance, you idiot.  It is not egocentric.  It is a community of its own.  A Pequod afloat holding every nation and faith and political view in a unified voyage.

In hindsight, I am a little concerned about my five year old self.  What felt so demanding at that age that I would have sacrificed sight, speech and hearing just to avoid the burden of expectations?

There is no life in thee, now, except that rocking life imparted by a gently rolling ship; by her, borrowed from the sea; by the sea, from the inscrutable tides of God.  But whilst this sleep, this dream is on ye, move your foot or hand an inch; slip your hold at all, and your identidy comes back in horror.

The Mast Head, Chapter 35