I don't like Herman Melville (actually, I'm not altogether fond of classic American writers) and I've never actually made it all the way through Moby Dick. But I have to say out of all of the books I've ever read Moby Dick has one of the best opening paragraphs. So awesome in fact, that despite my loathing for the author, it has stuck with me, burrowed deep into my brain, speaking to me when I have need to hear powerful words.
One of the very cool things on the internet (you know aside from cat videos and porn) is Project Gutenburg. Here is the first paragraph of Moby Dick:
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.
(source: Project Gutenburg)
I am envious of Ishmael who can take to sea and leave his problems on the shore. I would take to the sea if I could but isn't that a bit like running away? Maybe it's more of a change that Ishmael craves. Maybe it is the possibilities that lie over the horizon beckoning just out of reach that call to him.
I, having never found my sea legs, take to watching disaster movies, in particular Deep Impact.
I watch it when I am feeling down, when the world demands more from me
than I thought I could give, when I am so overwhelmed all I can do is
stand in the shower, my mind screaming as my tears are washed away. So I put on a disaster movie and
recognize that life - specifically my life - isn't bad (in
fact I would be hard pressed to claim that it was bad at all) it is pretty okay. But disaster movies give me one more thing that I need: hope. Not in any religious sense, because I am not religious or spiritual at all, but in an altogether more powerful way. Hope in humanity, in perseverance, in the future. Hope that even if things suck right now, they didn't always suck, nor will they forever suck.
We all have our own ways of dealing with stress and uncertainty and sadness. Ishmael "[...] quietly take[s] to the ship." I have disaster movies. Disaster movies might not eliminate the "damp, drizzly November in my soul," but they at least toss me an umbrella.
Maybe someday I'll talk about what's going on when and if I'm ready. But today isn't that day. Nor will it be any day in the foreseeable future.