The Sunday Morning Muse:
by Kevin Carrel Footer
27 April 2014
I have always been drawn to compasses. As a child I loved studying the art of navigation by compass in books. Later, in the mountains, I became skilled with one and never once got lost. Indeed, for several years I was part of a mountain rescue unit; we were the people they called when you went out for a day hike in Yosemite and never returned. I still have my compass from those days; I keep it in a drawer in the city. It is a reminder of a different time. Back then I was trying to get somewhere known; now I am trying to get lost.
Compasses with their adherence to the unchanging magnetic laws offer me the comforting certainties I cannot find elsewhere. They are the direct descendants of the old ways – the lost ways. Travel was not a diversion back then, not a vacation from one’s life; it was life itself. Travel was trading for a livelihood, travel was a watering hole, travel was a winter pasture or a place free from tyranny.
When I get stale – as I always do if I stay in one place too long – I hunger for the open road.
I prefer wandering over traveling, since wanderers accept from the very first step that they do not know where they will end up. I aspire only to get lost in deeper and deeper folds of reality. It only takes a first step to start the voyage.
The compass, forgotten in its drawer, still points the way – when I am ready to listen.