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Friday, 3 August 2012
Whatever flicks your needle...
Written for Think Tank Thursday #108 Compass at Poets United
"Compass truth, dad!" you'd say, and I
not comprehending what you meant.
You would have picked it up
at Sea Scouts, that's for sure.
"Compass truth"! It had me puzzled, lad.
You wouldn't say. You wouldn't or you couldn't
tell me what was in your mind. This compass truth,
what were the points of it. And then you said:
"It's where the needle points..." Of course it was,
but was it some much finer, more exotic truth?
Well, no, magnetic truth
was never really looked-for truth.
What-you-see-is-all-there-is, the saying goes -
and very often goes, these days. It's all the rage.
The looked-for truth can not be found. We have
the means to get within a few degrees of it.
The needle is our guru. It points
as close as we can get. It is enough.
I understood that far, but never knew
the truth of you. What flicks your needle, dad?"
you asked me once. "What keeps it pointing true?"
I had no better answer than had you.
I thought of this this morning, striking camp
our gear stowed fore and aft around the bags
we have for buoyancy, then those first paddle strokes
and out towards the groaning bergs. Exciting stuff!
And then the mist descending as I heard your voice:
"The needle's going crazy, dad!" you said.
"What flicks your needle?" had new resonance
with something impish - evil even - flicking ours.
Instinct, I thought. It's instinct of a kind. Inborn,
but honed in life by consequence
reiterated time and time again, by
the magnetic pull of those we make our heroes, by
the finer thoughts and deeds of those we meet
at home, in books, in art and in the street.