"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

08 July 2008

Waterwalk

I've just read Steven Faulkner's Waterwalk, a memoir of his canoe journey from the upper North to St. Louis to "discover" the Mississippi with his son Justin, following the route of Marquet and Joliet. It's a good book -- Faulkner is a good descriptive writer, and his meditations on his relationship with his son are honest and thoughtful. There are days of lovely solitude, of excitement and near-disaster, of back-breaking boredom. There's history as he weaves the two journeys together. I found his discussions of environmental and technological issues a bit heavy-handed; even though I agee with quite a bit of what he says, it felt more like being preached at than reflective musing, which is what the rest of the book seems to call for. But despite that particular flaw (to me; others won't mind it), the book is well worth reading to encourage one to think again about the need to slow down, to see what's around us, to reflect, to try to connect with mind and heart instead of cell phone and Facebook. And, in the end, to remember that we can only know so much of any other created being, that we are mysteries even to ourselves, that wisdom can be passed on but must also be learned, each of us in his own unique journey. We may travel together for a time, but even together we may be in very different places; finally, we can only love and pray.

7 comments:

Cindy said...

You had to write this immediately after I just friended TYM on Facebook, didn't you? :p

On the other hand, oh, this I loved (thank you, thank you): "...we can only know so much of any other created being, that we are mysteries even to ourselves, that wisdom can be passed on but must also be learned, each of us in his own unique journey. We may travel together for a time, but even together we may be in very different places."

alaiyo said...

Ahhh . . . so *that's* why "Facebook" came to mind instead of "MySpace" . . . ! ;-) (Thanks for being my son's friend, by the way.)

One thing I like about Waterwalk is that Faulkner doesn't try to "resolve" the relationship with his son, and is willing to leave it at a mystery -- he asks at the end, after recounting a conversation with his wife that reveals their frustration with their son's choices, how they can know Justin when Justin doesn't yet know himself. I've become so weary of the concept that everyone "ought" to be at the same place on a road that is so straight and narrow that there is neither mistake to be made nor room for varied paths . . .

The odd thing is that I'm lately drawn toward a faith community that has clear and often absolute authority -- and yet that very authority leaves so much more possibility for mystery and beauty and uniqueness in one's walk with Him . . .

Cindy said...

George MacDonald had a book in which a minister says the same thing of one of his daughters when her mother expresses concern (or very nearly the same thing). I remember treasuring that book for that reason.

Cindy said...

(Psst! There's a world of difference between Facebook and MySpace.)

Your friendly cyberspace junkie,
C.

predictablepoet said...

Very lovely review and reflections. The part about Facebook cut to the quick.

alaiyo said...

Now, now, I'm not trying to say that Facebook is in its essence evil! It's the use of it *to avoid* truly connecting with the folk right next door (as so many of my students do) that bothers me.

Oh, yes, I know the difference. MySpace has so much junk everywhere you can't find anything, and Facebook is set up so you can't find anything despite its not being so "busy." :) (I speak, of course, from the point of view of a computer illiterate who doesn't want to spend the time to learn any of this, after which it would not be so difficult . . .)

Cindy said...

Megan--Does this mean no more chatting until 3 or 4 A.M? Part of me hopes not, and part of me still hasn't caught up on sleep yet. ;) (I loved it; thank you; it was a gift.)

Beth--Today I stayed off the computer more than usual today, and the settling-in feeling, the slowing down, was absolutely lovely. It's easy to forget when I'm communicating online that even though I may be alone here at the desk, it's still Extraverting and as such, draining.

Just now noted that you listed "back-breaking boredom" as a factor in the relationship building in Faulkner's book. Now there's something to be expounded on: the part weathering boredom has to play in deepening and strengthening relationships. Very interesting and true, I'm thinking.

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