Happy Birthday, you crazy white whale!

Today marks the 167th anniversary of the publication of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.  I read the book a few years back and have to admit it was challenging….to say the least.  This is something that needs a PhD to interpret, methinks.

But one particular passage stayed with me:

Consider, once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea….

Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle, and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something in yourself?  For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the half known life.  God keep thee!  Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return.

Is Herman Melville petitioning us to listen to our inner voice, to hear what it wants us to do in our lives, and to let it lead us?

For me, yes – the further I’ve gone from my art, the more turmoil I’ve had to bear in my life.  Similarly, that churning pulls me away from the artistic journey that is at my true core.  I think Melville is shamefully pessimistic though, in saying that we can’t ever go back.

What is your inner Tahiti telling you?

Christy

PS – Moby Dick washed over me a bit.  But Melville is definitely a deep thinker – worth going back to one day.  Let me know what insights he gave you!

A Road Not Taken
A Road Not Taken 11×14 Oil on Canvas By Christy Michalak, Canada, 2018

5 comments

  1. Great quote. I haven’t read Moby Dick. My Tahiti… my Tahiti… hmm. I think if I were going to comment on Melville’s quote, I would disagree with him about his take on the half-known sea/soul. He seems downright ‘fearful’ about what he doesn’t know. A lot of people might be right with him there. But… what if we looked upon the ‘unknown’ with wide-eyed excitement instead of fear? What if jumping into the sea/soul was the ‘best thing ever’!? So my Tahiti, right now, is not to sit in verdant peace + joy, but to ‘not be fearful’ of the ‘unknown’. To say, “What if” instead. If something has ‘never been done before’, I think, sure there will be a lot of trepidation. And you know… its always this way. But how could it not? We have not ‘done it before’. There’s ‘no scientific research’. The film’s ‘not even in the can yet’. There are no ‘best practices’ to follow. Me, I am going to embrace the “What if’s”, and to be able to embrace these things, I am going to be flexible, adaptable, innovative – which will make me more resilient to the “what if’s”. I’m going to sail ‘by the seat of my pants’, into that dark blue sea and say, “Ha Ha… I laugh in the face of danger”[Peter Brady – The Brady Bunch circa ’69-74′].

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    • Thanks, Chris! I love your comments and your interpretation – and especially the Peter Brady quote, lol!! You may be right – is Melville trying to warn us not to go out and seek the proverbial whale (we all remember Captain Ahab’s grisly death in the end)? If so….eek!

      My interpretation was that Tahiti will lead us down the right path for us, no matter how challenging or scary. The real risk is to force yourself down a path that was never part of your soul’s intended destination. We all risk that when we listen to ego, and not to “Tahiti”. :). What I on this blog have been calling “the Wizard” (with a nod to Deepak Chopra).

      I can’t wait to see where your sails take you, by the way! They’ve already brought you far!

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  2. Love it…philosopher’s corner 😉 As for myself, being a true Pisces, I am always most at home near or on the water. But the elements of the deep sea, hidden far beneath do still hold that exciting, but gut wrenching factor for me, analogous to the danger that man poses to those of us on ‘Terra firma’.
    My Tahiti is paintbrush in hand on the shore my Emerald Isle. ☘

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    • Rose, I love how you brought in astrology to this. Something that I didn’t consider – but I’m an Aquarius which is also a water sign – and a provocative one, at that. Hmmm. Your comparison of the sea’s ‘gut-wrenching’ to the actions that man himself can take is also astute and resonates.

      My Tahiti is also my paintbrush. It’s my truth. It’s my contribution to the world and my antidote, also. It’s up to us artists to paint a brighter future!

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