Monday, October 29, 2012

A paper nautilus was picked up off the coast of southern California a couple of weeks ago, swept out of its native waters by a current that swept it close to shore. That's the story that science tells us, anyway, but I think we know better. The paper nautilus is also called the Argonaut, who in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea are known to use their paper-thin shells as boats and their tentacles as sails, floating around on the ocean surface and presumably having uncommon adventures. And why wouldn't you, given the example set by the sailors on the Argo, off on a journey to find the Golden Fleece, ending up as Argo Navis in the sky. Surely for an octopus who dreams of adventures the path ahead would be clear, to be a boat and land among the stars.

This is the better story, of course, the fragile exotic knocked off course, not long for this world, trapped and studied for as long as it remains whole. At home I am watching all of the falling leaves and the rain, dancing and drinking and cooking, happy in ways not so exotic but also much less temporary. Following the plan Alice Walker proposed at the end of "We Alone": This could be our revolution: /to love what is plentiful /as much as /what’s scarce." One never knows which adventure will finish in the skies.

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