If you must come to the sea...

Aug. 5, 1997

   After just a minute's walk from school, I sit down in the morning sun, between the gently lapping ocean and the footpath.   Those passing by-- walking dogs, jogging, cycling, marching steadily -- seem curiously driven forward and uninterested in the mysterious universe of sand and water whose edge they skirt.  The crying gulls seem to either be laughing, or else warning the uninitiated to keep their distance.  For if you must come to the sea, then be prepared to leave your words behind, like the scattered and useless furniture that once littered the pioneer trails.

   A pelican sails slowly out over the water toward the small moored boats, flapping occasionally, and drawing my sight to the horizon.  And two feelings come in quick succession. One, the feeling that the sea goes on forever like the starry universe.  The other, a feeling that this same eternity is a circle that, in an instant, flashes round the world and ends again with me where I sit.  Only when words are used, do the two feelings seem to conflict with each other.

   My attention is brought back to the present by a tourist--English, perhaps?--who stops to ask how long a walk it is to Cannery Row. As he walks off with his female companion, I notice they are not walking with the same nervous, almost frenetic scramble as the others.  They are probably in love...

   Within a minute, a roar begins and grows louder until a group of jets flying in diamond formation appears and finally flies directly overhead with a thundering shout. It seems as if this is man's answer to the wordless question lapping gently below me.  But soon the shriek dies out, and the quiet of the sea returns.  And there remains no question as to who has won.


by Dale E. Victorine 9/18/97

For Andrew A. Victorine 1898-1989

In Memoriam

Oft' now have I seen my father,
These eight years gone from our sight,
In regions of sleep;
Still quiet,
Still absorbed in questions:
The inner meanings,
The ultimate Truths...

He was not the kind
To stop at easy answers--
Or even easy questions,
Knowing there was always
More to understand,
More to be discovered
Just beyond the bend.

He was not a man well traveled;
but he moved on inner roads,
Searching the horizon
For that elusive answer
Only his heart could sense.

It seems so easy now to see
That it was this--
His Legacy to me:
A restless mind
That will not stop its searching;
Turning a problem over
And over in its hands
Like a wond'rous stone
Until the lust'rous truth
Gleams forth from its depths.
But then no sooner
Does my wonderment die down,
Than a new and brighter pebble
Will catch my eye,
And I must pick it up...

Perhaps in that bright place
Where my father dwells
He gathers stars to ponder;
Or else Ideas themselves
Become as precious stones
In his restless hands.

Come now, my father,
And we’ll walk the road together
Beyond the distant bend.
Perhaps we’ll find
The Greater Truth we seek,
If not, a part of it, at least.
And when we’ve picked it up
We’ll watch it shine.
We’ll watch it shine.