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I Am but a Seaman
 
I have always had a peculiar affinity for souls who have every appearance of being unhinged but in fact may only be more aware of the larger winds of change that blow around us.  And of course this frightening spectacle can unhinge an unanchored mind quite readily. Or is it unanchor an unhinged mind?

I remember one such encounter vividly although it occurred over 35 years ago.  I was walking by a cafe on a Saturday night after spending a couple of hours sketching down at the harbor. I could hear a jazz combo starting up inside and decided to drop in for a moment to hear them.  I could barely get in the door since quite a crowd had already gathered and the air was thick and steamy and condensation was beading up on the inside of the windows.  It was dark--the time was just past dusk and the cafe was dimly lit.  Even so it was easy to spot the wild set of eyes fixed on me from across the room--not simply because they were wild but because we all seem to have a sixth sense that tells us that we're being watched. These eyes were making a beeline for me from across the room and pretty soon I could see the face that held them--a trim, hard looking, middle aged man with thick black hair and beard shot with streaks of grey, rough dark tanned skin, and a frayed canvas coat that bellowed slightly to his movements and reeked old sweat. A complete stranger.  He stopped in front of me and demanded, "What are you doing here?"  The tone of the question suggested strongly that any answer would be unacceptable, so mentally I began to prepare for the worst and answered with another question: "Who wants to know?"

This occasioned an unexpected outcome. He frowned terribly and motioned impatiently for the pad of paper tucked under my arm. I handed it to him and he plucked the pen off the spiral binding, flipped to an empty page, and with some difficulty scrawled a message across it.  He finished with an odd gesture of finality. Then he closed the notepad, thrust it back into my hands, and brushed past me towards the door, which he opened quickly and left.

A scan of his message is below.  I've kept it all these years, though I still don't exactly know what to make of it.                

 
I am what I am
If you dispute my word
You are defying the Lord of Nature
I am but a seaman
I've been around the world.

 
 
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All site contents copyright 2017 Edward W. Farrell This page last updated on 2017-06-03