Consider all this; and then turn to this green gentle and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life.
Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick is my bible. I read it daily. I find it soothing, probing, comforting, and ever inspiring. When one of my sons was in first grade I came to be the “Mystery Reader” for the week. It was tradition for the Mystery Reader to introduced with three clues. The boys (it’s an all-boys school) would then try to guess whose Mom or Dad was the Mystery Reader. These were my clues:
- I grew up with three other Moms in this class.
- I have a steel rod implanted in my shin and bolted into my knee and ankle.
- My favorite book is Moby-Dick.
- That could be my Mom
- Well, I bet a lot of Moms and Dads have steel rods in their legs
And then the teacher said “This Reader’s favorite book is Moby-Dick” and my son blurted out “OH! That’s my Mom.”
As life throws me loops I unsteadily navigate my way through. Diagnosis seem to reign down on my family’s small backs. I have returned to my ‘about” some dozen posts in driven by yet another. We were walked through the diagnosis today. Our eldest child has Asperger’s Syndrome, masked by a genial personality.
In the report is the line: “Patient’s family history is significant for psychiatric disorders.” Then follows a five line laundry list of the mind’s darkest corners. They trickle down through generations to fall on his frail frame. Half a year away from 14, his diminutive body carries a mere 85 pounds, and enough anxiety to put down a buffalo. I know this did not come out of the blue. When I first read Moby-Dick, long before marriage and motherhood, I recognized Ishmael immediately. He danced his way through the questions without answers and found some joy and hope not in the answers, never reached, but in the exploration. There is a peace in those waves of thought. And on that sea all the things that seem so broken in the here and now are carried for us in the waves.
So in the soul of man, there lies ones insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life. This is my journey to my Insular Tahiti, examining the horrors and accompanied by the joys.