Tasting Despair

There was no wind. No movement no stirring. His boat, without sail or other means of propulsion floated in a liquid void. No  contact or sign of life  No  means of propulsion. The water stretched out before him. To be beautiful, he had discovered,  it must also be familiar or have some echo and so it did at the beginning, but gradually the silence and  isolation had eaten into his will and moved him beyond the edge of bewilderment.. There was  nothing here but  alien : unsupportive of emotion or awareness, and offering no response to the question “What shall I do. What can I do”.

He peered as hard as he could until the full meaning of the word indifference entered his heart and soul. He had arrived at Nowhere, and become Nobody. His mind thrashed around him in spasms.followed by periods of exhaustion but that did not move or help him. There was no aid. or faith or beauty, or anything which makes our life proportional: bearable. He was beyond the range of caring, adrift in a wilderness:  no voice or movement stirred him. Here, at last, he was confronted with the spectre of his profound insignificance. The immutable lack of concern with which nature viewed his survival.

All in one moment, and without explanation he fell to his knees and prayed. He seemed thrown there by instinct. A last spasm of identity.He begged for forgiveness and asked to be saved. He was not religious and was moved by some urge; primal in origination. There was no other emotion left. He prayed blindly. Because there was nothing else. He poured his heart into his thoughts and waited, incredulous and weary for some echo, response or sign of ‘otherness’. He raised his clasped hands to his face, and felt his nails dig into the palms of his hand. At last he felt the tears fall down his cheeks. The final cry of a desolate, exhausted soul. He looked at his hands, now wet from his own moisture and paused. Without reason he licked the moisture from his palm and felt the saltiness on his tongue. His own water. His own life. A vision rose within him

His looked at his hands, each wrinkle now a memory,and smiled. Of course, he said. “I am the miracle. That in this desolate and infinite wilderness should live a sentient being. That I can feel is the miracle. That amidst this sea of indifference awareness can exist”. For no reason, he reached forward over the bows and began to paddle. Faith requires no reason to act.

Some of us face implacable indifference in our daily lives, though most are spared that experience. For all of us,one day, in about a billion years the cooling sun will swell and devour the earth we sit upon, absorbing  all artefacts, masterpieces, thoughts and creations in its path. Perhaps in that time a few of us will have learnt to survive on some artificial planet somewhere in another solar system but for the majority of us, and all that we call home, extinction is an absolute. Facing it is not.

About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, creative writing, Environment, faith, Life, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Tasting Despair

  1. catterel says:

    This is deeply moving – so many people are in this situation. A beautiful allegaroy, Ducks.


  2. Jade Reyner says:

    This is a really brilliant piece of writing, thank you so much for sharing it. 🙂


  3. A wonderful powerful piece Peter.

    Blind faith can pluck us out from indifference when we least expect it, and even before we are aware it is faith. Thats how it has been for me. 🙂


  4. Such a powerful journey you have taken us on here – great work! Love that each wrinkle on the hand is a memory 😉


  5. NotDownOrOut says:

    The last line still has me wondering. Facing extinction is not absolute. So we can fight it because it is a condition and we can “row” away from it? I am intrigued.


  6. Eloquent. Succinct. Magical. Mr. Ducks, I really would appreciate an opportunity to speak with you more directly about your writing. I have sent you a friend request.


    • I am not sure where your ‘friend request’ is, but given my lack of technical grasp that is not surprising. I shall leave a comment on your Blog so you can get my email address. Hope that is OK


  7. mysending says:

    I echo the sentiments of your other commenters above–what a powerful piece of writing. Thank you.


  8. BRAVO!! Wonderful piece…haunting but hopeful, desolate but fulfilled. Absolutely fantastic message…and your last line is pure, honest, unabashed truth…
    Well done, my friend 🙂


  9. A perfect piece for Independence Day.


  10. Al says:

    Once again you shock us into the reality of our being. This piece, as with so many of your other evokings, speaks directly to me. I’m reminded of the well-worn axiom “there are no atheists in foxholes.”

    This is exactly why we all light up when we see a new post from you on the reader.


  11. A brilliant piece of writing! Captivating. Thank you!


  12. ampbreia says:

    Beautifully expressed. Almost poetic.


  13. babs50nfab says:

    Very thought provoking, Peter. You always have me mulling over your posts again and again. Quite a gift you have. Thanks for sharing that gift with us.


  14. sharipratt says:

    A lovely story for the 4th of July. How interesting that this person found a reason to paddle again from the taste of the salt on his palm – a sometimes painful but essential essence.


  15. nelle says:

    There’s a resilience in us, a force that pushes us forward. And I wonder what might have seemed impossible 2000 years ago and how we view it today. I’d guess that realm has shrunk considerably.

    Nice post as always. I’ve been at those oars a time or two. 😉


  16. Jane says:

    A thought provoking tale that I will reread often. Parts of it felt very familiar. The ending is haunting.
    I love your work.


  17. Beautiful, touching and thought-provoking at the same time. I so enjoy reading your writing thank you! 🙂


  18. Very powerful image, the motionless void, the becalmed boat. I also like your exhortation that only we can give our lives meaning, not some external or imaginary force. Sweat is as apt a stimulus as any. Nice work.


  19. rooftoppuppeteer says:

    You’re truly an excellent writer 🙂 May I ask, where do you find the inspiration to write such powerful pieces of literature?? Xx


  20. donnaeve says:

    This piece reminds a little bit of the book THE ROAD, Cormac McCarthy, with that same sense of endless struggling, until one just about gives up. Not many of us have come to the edge and looked down, but you put me THERE. Very touching and thought provoking.


  21. 1WriteWay says:

    In a word, awesome.


  22. Ina says:

    Hi Peter,
    this story really spoke to me, I love it. You are a true teller of moving stories! 🙂


  23. Purely.. Kay says:

    I agree with Jade, your writing is always amazing but this story is really a brilliant piece of writing my friend. I loved it


  24. Chris Edgar says:

    Thanks for this — I’m reminded of something that occurred to me recently: how can people say they live in an “indifferent universe” when they themselves are part of the universe and are not indifferent? We live in a compassionate, concerned universe, I would say, if we ourselves are compassionate and concerned.


  25. ~~~For all of us,one day, in about a billion years the cooling sun will swell and devour the earth we sit upon, absorbing all artefacts, masterpieces, thoughts and creations in its path. ~~~

    Chills. Shivers. Truth.
    All things will parish….but NOT LOVE. Never Love.

    You. Are. Love.



  26. Lafemmeroar says:

    What a very thoughtful piece! Well done Peter 🙂


  27. Caroline says:

    As you say sometimes the only option left is to paddle. And the very act of paddling, taking charge of our destiny, can bring a sense of achievement, which in moments of total nothingness is what we need.



  28. araneus1 says:

    deep, ducks.


  29. Julie Gym says:

    Ahhh. Went to the soul and moistened the eyes, like going to the movies without having to get out of bed. I love it when you write your stories, CD. It’s like being within or alongside your characters. No one captures the essence and longings of the soul like you. Thank you for these gifts.


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