04:00. I awake in Moira's aft cabin, Freddy and Walter the Cat sleeping beside me. They are lying in exactly the same position, on their side, their arms stretched out over their heads, one leg tucked up, the other straight. Walter even has his head on a corner of Freddy's pillow. I get up to visit the head and get a drink of water.
I dreamed I was in a gigantic lecture hall crammed with thousands of people. There was a computer screen - a huge one - filling one end of the hall. Words flashed on the screen so fast I could not copy them down into my notebook. Words about perceptions and awareness. I remember some of them. I sit down at the dinette and try to write down what I can remember. But the words vanish faster than I can write. Just like in the dream.
Above the screen, in the lecture hall, there was an old stone wall. Words were etched deeply into the rock. They were written in a very old language but I could read it OK. They translated as,
"All ye who would enter here" And there was a space. "Let there be no walls."
It was a mystic mantra, like one of those Sufi paradoxes said to confuse the conscious mind and allow "awakenings".
Last night, after dinner, I was writing about measurement systems. About how these are actually a grid overlay on a seamless reality. So maybe the mantra was about the grid. To seek dimensions in a dimensionless reality is to accept error. Inches, Meters, degrees Fahrenheit, Minutes, Hours, are human language constructs used to separate and measure reality. But there are no dimensions and no time but now in the actual phenomenon we consider reality.
Ah Hah! I come fully awake. The thread! For an instant I remembered something important from the dream, but the act of thinking about it makes it vanish again. Damn. I have the distinct feeling I am getting close to Moira clotho's thread of awareness. The thread Moira, sitting at the loom of life, spins into our combined lives.
I close my eyes and put my head down on the dinette. I can see the multicolored thread. It is a glint of sunlight reflected off a distant river, ribboning through a dense jungle of thoughts, appearing and vanishing again, hidden in some inaccessible valley of my mind.
Something to do with the continuity of the web of communications. One continuous web of awareness. But I can't quite understand. Frustrated, puzzled and sleepy, I doze off again. The mantra chants through my mind;
All ye who would enter here
Let there be no walls.
All ye who would enter here
Let there be no walls.
The sound of the words washes over me, waves of thought cascading through the reefs of my body. Like Sea. Endless, seamless, filling everything, This Magic Sea....Everywhere....Let there be no walls......
I approach a shore. A place where waves break and thunder in the surf of dying. This Magic Sea rears up and up, trembles, stumbles, and I rush forward, out of control, tumbling in the white surf, holding onto the chant like a surfboard.....
The events of my life foam around me, like bubbles in the turbulence of the breaking wave. The memories call me but I move between them, the chant a duct, a channel, between the swirling bright bubbles of past events. I am within This Magic Sea. It fills the spaces between the bubbles of being. This Magic Sea creates the walls of the bubbles of existence. I try to see more of the fabric of This Magic Sea, looking closer and closer at the interface between the wall and that which creates it.
I see a series of geometric sine-wave shapes, linked together yet with no walls, just intersections of changing forces, nodes streaming by as I plummet into the depths of the center.
At any point, from any angle, I view a network of interlocking sine-waves creating wave faces in all dimensions at once. Where the sine-waves form nodes the web pinches into energy pockets of bright, shifting colors. Seen from another angle, they also form long strings of light threading through the 3-dimensional, multicolored webwork. It is indescribably exquisite. I move into the center of one of the overlapping sine waves, into the depth of the thread, chanting:
All ye who would enter here
Let there be no walls.
All ye who would enter here
Let there be no walls
I am an ancient being threading through time on a ribbon of awareness. The chanting voices become voices of my ancestors, minds locked in belief, steeped in ritual magic, cloaked and hidden, chanting through the ages of the fiber of my being. Through them, I am woven, spun into a past/future of scenes of men, flashing like bursts of lightning amid the known events of my present life.
I peer into one bubble and see a soldier standing on a road, a man dressed in an elaborate robe in a rich forest of huge trees, a man-like creature lifting its head from a stream. A fierce light shines through the drama and becomes a golden glow of great warmth and splendor. The chant becomes an invitation and I feel the focus of many minds flood into my being and perceive through me. I open my eyes and they look at the hatch, the fittings, the Moira. How many I could not say, just wall-less minds flowing through me as though I were a duct in space-time for their longer awareness. Each time my mind shifts to peer at the nodes of being, the chant re-opens the way, centers the path, allows the node to pass and the whole to continue. Like seeing a spot before your eyes, just to one side of center, you try to center it and as your eye moves the spot slides away to the side. Only when you relax and look straight ahead does it return to its almost center position.
The sine-wave phenomenon represents itself as light. The wave fronts are not waves but eddies of movement, tensions interthreading....concepts forming...ideas bursting.
I wake up with my head still on the dinette. I sit up and open my logbook. I remember seeing a grid displayed on the giant computer screen during my earlier dream. I draw it into the log quickly before I forget it again.
Beings appear as we learn; To Be, To Change, To Have Direction is one interaction within This Magic Sea.
And by appear, I mean they evolve from one form to another, come within perception range, and are manifested from one interval to the next. I appear, evolving from instant to instant, derived from an unbroken growing of awareness over the past 4 billion years, manifested as atoms enter my being to form my bacteria whose dance becomes my cells whose communications become me in the singular now of existence.
YES! Great. It's 05:30 and Sun is glowing the East, over Noumea. The city lights flick out as I pull the Avon alongside the Moira and climb in. I fire up the outboard and motor in towards St. Joseph's Cathedral: a magnificent stone building built by convicts in 1894. The green lead light on its parapet glows a welcome direction for the people of the sea. The second green lead light is on the corner of the Cultural Center on top of the hill behind Noumea. When the two green lights are in line, you know you are in the middle of the channel through the pass. Welcome (via the Cathedral) to the Culture of Noumea, say the lights.
"Hey, you're up early," calls Louis from the Yacht Dragon. He is sitting in the cockpit wearing a pair of battered shorts. He has a round, smiling face, silver hair, odd accent and an outgoing personality.
"Going to get some croissants," I slow the dinghy and come alongside, "You want some?"
"I'll be right over the second you get back," Louis invites himself. He will, too. I laugh and motor off. I really like Louis and his wife George. We have a lot in common. He makes scrimshaw etchings and she does beautiful pastel portraits. I mean really first class work. She's French Canadian, short, and has a man's name, Claude. But Louis calls her George. They have a dachshund named Zipper (he's so cute you can almost see the zipper). They have lived aboard their yacht Dragon for years and are true cruisers with no real destination except Sea itself.
I make the world's most beautiful Kaleidoscopes. Freddy, who is French Moroccan, does beautiful paintings of sea creatures on silk and T-shirts. She also has a man's name. We have Dr. Walter Cat and have lived aboard for years with no real destination except Sea itself. Also we both look after our boats. Freddy always says you can tell everything you need to know about a yachtsman by the condition of the yacht.
The inner harbor smells of sewer but it's otherwise clean and tidy. I tie up on the cement wharf next to the Pilotage and head off down Rue General Gallieni to the nearest Boulangerie. My French is progressing and I think I can manage to buy some bread.
The streets are quiet. Only a few cars come screaming along the Avenue de la Victoire and two-wheel it around onto General Gallieni. The French always drive like they are on a race track. I glance at the face of a lovely lady in a little red Porshe and see that almost sexual excitement the French get when driving. Driving fast. The guy in the car right behind her has a grin like the cartoon skunk Pepe La Pew, bounding along after some pert little pussycat.
Damned dangerous for pedestrians around here. At Rue de la Somme I hang a left and march into the bakery. Voila les croissants! I snatch up four and then pick up a couple of those things with the chocolate filling and some flat, sticky goodies with glazed fruits. I bravely step up to the lady at the cash register. She says something in French, possibly "Will that be all?" and I fumble through my French vocabulary and reply, "Oui" and watch the little number flags appear in the cash register window as she punches in my pastries.
She tells me the total but I already know what it is from the cash register. A good thing, too, cause I can't understand a word she says.
Back into the dawn, feeling great. I stride towards the docks.
Perceptual systems, and the languages evolved from them, force us to think of the single phenomenon of life as four concepts; to be, to change, to have direction and the intercommunication of these elements. Each of these concepts is, in our minds, a different kind of event or condition. Yet they are one event, going on continuously, constantly changing, building on itself.
To Be is the focal point of behavior we think of as I AM. To Change means the change in position of beings relative to other beings. To Have Direction is the change in change, it is also spin, (I do a little pirouette on the sidewalk) and the progress of relative change in position. The change in change is momentum, inertia, and much more. The relative direction of motion results in meaning. Motion towards and away from a being has more meaning to than motion parallel to it.
I stop at the intersection of Avenue de la Victoire and Rue du General Gallieni and watch a white 4L hurdle up the street at me. A car with a French driver coming directly at me has far more meaning than a car with a French driver moving away from me or on a parallel course. The car screeches around the bend and pelts off towards a red light as fast as it can. At the last moment the car squeals to a halt.
I cross the first part of the road and check the other way. Here comes another car from the other direction. It slows and stops! Unreal! As I cross the road with my little white paper bag of treats I look through the windshield. The driver is a Kanack. Well, that explains it. Kanacks and Vietnamese sometimes stop to let you cross the street. They are very polite and seldom run over pedestrians unless they are drunk out of their minds.
Not like the Frogs who collectively bag at least one or two walkers a month on the streets and sidewalks of Noumea.
Change in a direction becomes, in living systems, the progress of learning and the process of evolution. Survival on Avenue de la Victoire.
As I get aboard Moira I smell the fresh ground New Caledonia coffee. Freddy is up. I give her the treats and sit down at the dinette.
"I've got it," I say.
"Do you want them heated up? They are still warm." Freddy replies.
"Now I'm sure of what I want to do. I want to put together an explanation of This Magic Sea. A kind of expedition report of the Research Vessel Moira about This Magic Sea. Try to put all the vision into one quick, holistic view. Lots of pictures. Maybe some time lapse and kaleidoscope scenes to break the viewer out of the normal hominid time and space awareness framework."
"Gods, is that what you've been doing since 4 AM?" She pushes down the plunger in the coffee maker.
"Well, actually, I was working on a grid explaining about how the intercommunication of To be, to change, to have direction, is one event that creates the observer. But there are some real language barriers. Have a look. See? The left side of the grid, To Be, To Change, To Have Direction. The words try to focus on something real, unitary and very simple. But the language makes it difficult to see it as one event. A being appears at all levels at once, bounded by the basic intercommunications forming sub-atomic particles and the result of their intercommunications: the continuing appearance of the universe of stars and galaxies."
"Hey, Hey, Hey, I smell Coffee!" Louis' face appears in the companionway. His predatory instincts for French pastries and New Caledonia coffee show in his expression. He is also leering at Freddy who does, come to think of it, look rather cute this morning in a big, floppy T-shirt with a low cut neckline and nothing else.
"Hi, Louis, come on down," Freddy says. "You've saved me from a lecture on basic cosmic intercommunications."
"Good thing, too. Ummmmmmm Um. That smells like hot brioche!"
"Go ahead, help yourself," Freddy shoves him towards the dinette.
"I thought you'd never ask. What are you guys up to today?" Louis grabs a brioche from the pile.
"We might take a hike up to the botanical garden and zoo. I want to get some pictures of the cagou, and maybe some shots of the harbor from the mountain top."
"Yeah, we been there. Not bad. Not bad. George and I are heading off to Bay Maa. Maybe tomorrow. There are some things she wants to get in town. You guys interested in going?"
By the time we finish breakfast and get ready to go it is hot, as in VERY hot. We stop at the bus depot and decide maybe it is better to ride to the zoo than to walk.
We get aboard bus number 12 and ride as far as the housing area on Montravel. There, we get off and hike up the road towards the zoo. Just before we arrive, I spot a trail leading up to the top of the mountain. "Scenic Shot Alert" I tug Freddy up to the summit of Montravel, following an impressively long set of cement stairs. On top we get a panoramic view of Noumea. The grid of humanity sprawls at our feet, nesting on the various hills and valleys edging the network of excellent anchorages. Moira waves her yellow awning far below us in Baie de la Moselle.
Out to sea, over the turquoise lagoon, we can make out traces of the barrier reef and can easily see Amedee Lighthouse. I read in a tourist book Amedee is the tallest metal lighthouse in the world. To the east, massive Mt. d'Or bulges above the other coastal mountains. Yves place is just beyond there. I can see almost all the way down the coast to Canal Woodin. Beautiful.
Not so beautiful, the Societe le Nickel factory, just inland of Noumea, belches a putrid black-yellow-red smoke into the blue sky. Fields of black tailings surround the dirty buildings. It may be ugly, but money flows from the nickel smelted there. Enough to have created the obvious wealth and luxuries of Noumea. Oh well, at least the smoke goes away from the city most of the time.
"I really like this place," I mean all of New Caledonia.
"Me, too," Freddy looks down into the village. "It's like a little part of France. Nice stores, good quality European things to buy."
"Yeah. A classy place, interesting things going on all the time." As I say this, I'm looking out towards Anse Vata and Baie des Citrons thinking about the young, topless, sweethearts even now undulating down the powdery beaches.
The zoo is cooler than Noumea, both because of the elevation and the assortment of trees and flowering bushes. Bright red flame trees provide sizzling hot spots of color in the cool green and yellow setting. There is a small lake with swans and ducks. A female peacock runs by with an obviously French male peacock in hot pursuit.
Then we come to the famous cagou. New Caledonia's official territorial bird. Rhynochetos jubatus, is a flightless blue-gray bird. It makes a bizzare sound like a soprano cat growling and barks like a toy poodle. We actually heard one when we anchored in Port Bouquet on the East coast of New Caledonia. It was really sad. The cagous were barking because some villagers were burning their little island as part of the local slash and burn agriculture. It may have been their last bark. They lay one egg at a time, and the female sits on it for 32 days with the male helping find food for her.
We see plenty of cagous in Noumea. On T-Shirts the cagous are dressed as fun loving tourists or swinging through trees with tarzan fur jumpers on. Cagous appear on postage stamps and rack after rack of post cards. We also see one on our phony New Caledonia flag. The little blue flag shows a cagou perched on some bars of Nickel. It came with a set of guest flags we bought in Hong Kong and we put it up when we entered. The French boarding officer took one look at it and burst out snickering. These guys are too serious to chortle or guffaw. He told us New Caledonia has no flag of its own and we should have flown the French flag. It was almost a month before someone recognized our flag as the one designed years ago when the South Pacific Games were held here in New Caledonia. It's a funny looking cagou on a funny looking flag, we like it, so we still fly it.
This cagou, however, is a live, feathery bird in a spacious wire cage with lots of plants. The cagou is bigger than I thought it would be and it's gray-blue feathers bluer than in its photographs.
I poke the lens of my camera through the wire mesh to take a picture but the cagou looks utterly forlorn. "Come on cagou, look smart." I mumble. The cagou might as well be stuffed for all the action I get.
To me, the miserable caged cagou is a symbol with an all too obvious meaning. It heralds the coming trials and tribulations of the people here. It is a spirit guide visioning terrorism and hatred. It stands there deep into a funky reflection of the word Extinction. Death for itself, it's own kind, death for the tranquility of the isle most close to paradise. Soon everyone here will be barking in the flames of slash and burn politics.
"Why is it all the official birds are always almost extinct?" Asks Freddy reading the information plaque about the cagou. A good question. The cagou does not answer. It just stands there, head down, looking miserable.