It was amazing how many times he went walking at high tide. He has had to take off his shoes and socks and wade through the water. I came to realize that he liked doing it. Underneath we could feel the slimy bottom. He would slip and slide but always held his balance. He was carrying an expensive electronic device that if doused would be useless and inoperable. This only seemed to increase his determination not to turn back. It was the increased risk, but much more, it was the challenge, even in such a pedestrian circumstance. There was a certain noble courage in his actions. It was subtle but innate. He liked doing things the hard way.
<<We have always loved a challenge, Farson.>>
<<Too true, Belnad.>>
Thinking about the things that I know are coming, I wonder how much would he have been willing to risk? Would he face the utter destruction of his world with such a exacting attitude? Would he be willing to risk everything, if he knew everything we know? Would he risk that? And if the answers to those questions are “yes” (and I know they are) then why would he do it? When there is much at stake, it is really that much different than when it’s only about a little lost time and two wet feet? It depends, doesn’t it. If it’s about overcoming complacency and fear, then a little bit goes a long way. It’s the same in the big and little things of mankind. Our actions, our thoughts always have directed the race. We have become what we were becoming. It’s so encouraging in the result. It’s as if everything we ever did or tried always had a reason. But, it was “a long slog,” as they say. There were unbelievable disasters. There were wasted lives by the millions. The planet was almost destroyed. And we threatened, in our ignorance, to damage The Screen itself, and perhaps much, much more than that.
It was on the fourth high-tide occasion that I understood. I was feeling his toes and how they felt around the mossy bottom of the estuary. He was using his toes to feel the way. It was when he slipped and caught himself, overcoming an unforeseen challenge, that it struck me. In that moment his adrenaline jumped, his heart rate climbed, his arms flew out, he spread his legs to extend his balance, and then he moved on, senses heightened, ready for anything. It all happened in a microsecond. An explorer in the unknown. It didn’t matter the size or scope; nothing was too small to offer interesting opportunity. It could have been a mountain or just a conversation. It could have been a marathon or a love letter. It didn’t matter, as long as the moment offered it’s chance to learn or see or taste or feel or just experience something new, something unexpected.
We all know that 2016 was a pivotal year in humanity’s struggle. “The arc of [history] is long but it bends toward justice.” This was the year that big things happened. The things were big, but the changes were subtle. A change, for example, in the intimacy of human communication. A change, for example, in how people voted. It was the first year, perhaps since 1860, when every single person’s vote really mattered, and everyone knew it. It was the year that commercial space flight took a terrible hit, and resolved to rebound, bigger than ever. It was the year that Ban Jonsn turned sixty. It was the year that the Earth crossed the line of demarcation between what it had always been and what the effects of mankind had turned it into. It was an innocent year and it came and went in reckless abandon. Noted but not truly unusual. But, history has marked it as a year to remember. We know it was one for the ages.
That’s why I’m here.