Intimate with Madness

Lance is having a funny reaction to the sea.  Left to his own, he’d probably be happy staying out of the water.  He does not seem to have any curiosity about it. Only when Geoff or I go swimming, does Lance make a dash into the waves.  He hates it, I can tell.  He whines and steps timorously over the baby wavelets as if walking on shards of glass.  He’d really prefer going back to the house and resuming his perch on the porch.

The sight of his human cohorts disappearing into this strange, moving, noisy, foaming mass that Lance has no frame of reference to understand, however, moves him to override his fear. At least he attempts to override his fear.  He doesn’t get far.  The first biggish wave sends Lance in an abrupt dancing retreat.  It’s interesting to watch him weigh his options and evaluate the competing threats.  He hates the ocean, but he also hates being separated from the pack.  So his fear of the pack breaking up temporarily trumps his fear of death-by-water.  Until the water grows larger than his brief courage.  Then he flees to the beach and the torture of indecision.

Once in a while, Geoff  stays on the beach, while I swim.  That doesn’t help much.  Lance runs back and forth between Geoff and the shallow waves, barking in a state of high anxiety, as if to say: “Go in there and get her!  Are you mad?  How can you stand there and do nothing?!”  Then he advances to the point where the gentlest wave edge brushes his toenails, plops his butt in the sand and stares at me in agony until I return from the sea.  Poor dog.  He’ll never come on vacation with us again.  Between the Trivial Pursuit and the bathing, this trip has been one trauma after another.

The moon still hangs in the sky this morning.  A pale white shadow against blue.  It was full a couple of days ago, and it doesn’t seem to want to give up the stage.  The wind has died down from the storm.  The water is barely moving today.  Maybe Lance will feel more inclined to swim in this gentle sea.

Emily sent the following:

#1284, c. 1783

Had we our senses
But perhaps ’tis well they’re not at Home
So intimate with Madness
He’s liable with them
Had we the eyes within our Head —
How well that we are Blind —
We could not look upon the Earth —
So utterly unmoved —

The world is shocking. Maybe it is better that most of us sleepwalk through it. If we were fully awake with open eyes, we’d stay fixed on the beach and not move. Too dangerous.

Of course, Emily doesn’t really mean what she says. She’s toying with our complacency. However, the suggestion that paying attention with our full range of senses might lead to madness or at least feel like madness is not her joke. Rather, it is her isolation. It’s an intimacy with chaos that she is willing to live with but no one else would.

1 Comment

Filed under Emily Every Day

One response to “Intimate with Madness

  1. Barbara Rodgers

    “To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”
    ~ Emily Dickinson

    Sounds like Lance will be happy to go home! Poor thing…

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