Saturday, January 16, 2016

Postcard from Cambodia

The most beautiful things weren’t created by man. Sure, Angkor Wat looks, and I mean this in a very complimentary way, at times like an alien landscape and it’s unimaginable how a mere being as man created it, nine hundred years ago no less. But just 12 hours away by bus you realize that this giant of man’s work is dwarfed by the tiniest of God’s creations, thinks one of His creatures, as he sits gazing at the clearest of oceans on Long Beach, Koh Rong island. From the wind whistling out loud in the way it never does when there are more people listening, to the last grain of sand and the last tiny ant bothering my limited company on this heaven – all the inexplicable work of someone, something. All attributed to this Creator, Keeper, Giver. Fitting then that man’s finest creations, rendered by the God-Kings of Angkor themselves, are but a dedication to that real King.

Consider a shipwreck then, eras ago, and the sailor washed up on this beach, lucky to be alive, cursed to be nowhere scenario. What would his thoughts be, as he stumbled out of the surf? Relief, possibly disbelief that he was on land again. A resurgence of panic as he realizes he’s the only one here, and a frantic search for fresh water, which he would find not long after. Then the first night, with its fears and insecurities would play out its part in his drama. Food, sleep residence, all these would become a pattern before a fortnight was past, and then would begin the waiting. Not waiting as prisoners do, because they know there exists a time and date when it will all be over. And because prisoners don’t look out at the yard each morning and think, “Each time I look at this place I am filled anew with wonder. Each time I lay down and let the waves wash over me I am a new man, and each time I close my eyes and listen to the howling of the wind, I know that I will never, ever understand how such beauty can come to be.”

As the whiskers begin to cover most of his face and his skin acquires the colour of teak, I wonder then, would this unwitting recipient of this infinite bounty want to go back at all? I suppose he likely would, for human company, if nothing else. To be able to say something to someone and get a response. To have someone tell him he’s crazy when he starts chatting up a tree, as he is wont to do here. Or perhaps not......maybe he’s done with humans for good. Maybe human depravity was what got him here in the first place. The greedy captain, overloading the cog with cargo and slave stock, and the vile sailors after the wreck, stabbing each other for a spot on the raft. Still, if they came looking for him, I suppose he wouldn’t turn them away, even if just out of respect. Respect for his mates, or countrymen, or whatever unwritten bond exists between one man of the sea and another. Yes, he’d go if they came looking, I’m certain of that. If they were just sailing by though, as he sat contemplating the sunset, would he run down the hill and yell himself hoarse, and swim towards them, and throw coconuts, and splash up a whirlpool, and do whatever he could to catch on to this one thread that could give him back what he once thought was life? Or would he simply watch as opportunity sailed into the sunset, and let inaction dictate the course of things?

That’s really my question.

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