colliding and crashingpublished: 2012-01-24
Some people dream of wideopen spaces and fields of joy. Of starlit skies and blossom. While she finds herself trapped on a small wooden boat. It is a small boat that rocks and rolls on the erratic waves of a dark grey. An ocean in confusion, the currents not knowing which way to go, colliding continually and crashing incoherently.
She is stuck in a crescent-shaped body of water, locked in by steep rocky slopes. The skies are dark, the water is cold. Which way? How do we get out of this?
The other passenger points at something behind her. There is a gap in one of the rocky walls, a tunnel of some sort, a crack. Water passes through it. That way, says the passenger. That passenger is someone she was once in school with and never saw since.
It’s the only way out.
She is too afraid. Not the crack. She decides to jump off the boat, she feels safer in the water than on it. The waves smash together over her head, slam against both sides of her at the same time. But she is a powerful swimmer, she can do this. Then the passenger jumps in too and is caught by dangerous current, dragged straight down, right beneath her. She feels the passenger’s shoulder brush against her. What should she do? She can’t just let her go, can she?
She’d feel guilty forever. And so she gropes beneath the water, grabs the sleeve of the stranger’s shirt and pulls her up.
When she wakes up she feels peculiar about herself. She saved the stranger, yes, but she didn’t act on impulse. It was a conscentious effort. She hadn’t saved the passenger for the passenger’s sake. She had saved the passenger for her own sake, for fear she’d otherwise feel guilty.
Helping others is the most beautiful act of egocentrism.