A Call From the Distant Past

by on December 2, 2008 at 1:21 am

Sometimes when I go to the ocean and stand at the edge of the water for awhile I can fell the pull of time.  It’s not like that eerie feeling on the northwest edge of Goat Island at Niagara Falls, the sense that there’s a slight hand at your back suggesting….

The feeling at the ocean is a reminder that we came from there.  Some serial entrepreneur fish decided one millennium to expand his target market by crawling onshore and here we are.   So you look out at the eternal sea, the waves that keep landing whether or not we’re there to see them, and the sense that we came from there just fits.

Wake up 30 minutes before first light and wait for sunrise in a South African field and it’s the same.  There is something about the air, the light and the stillness that is different from, say, the Rocky Mountains or Death Valley.  It reminds me of those long scenes in the first part of Kubrick’s 2001, scenes in which the camera lingered much longer than we are used to in film, hinting at the passage of eons.

This sense of beginning has some basis.  The San, or Bushmen, are by most accounts the oldest common ancestor of humans, and the tribes originated in what is now called Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.   Our group visited a San/Bushman cultural center and have a trip scheduled later for what is considered the cradle of humankind, so more on them later.

For now, it’s worth noting that an early morning in a South African landscape has some of the same effect as the ocean, an unconscious postcard (“Wish You Were Still Here”?) from a place all of us once called home.

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