Imagine you're in a rowing boat on a lake.
It's summer, early morning.
That time when the sun hasn't quite broken free of the landscape
And long, projected shadows tigerstripe the light.
The rays are warm on your skin as you drift through them,
But in the shadows the air is still cold,
Greyness holding onto undersides and edges wherever it can.
A low clinging breeze comes and goes,
Racing ripples across the water and gently rocking you and your boat
As you float in yin-yang slices of morning.
Birds are singing. It's a sharp, clear sound,
Clean without the humming backing track of a day well underway.
There's the occasional sound of wind in leaves
And the occasional slap-splash of a larger wavelet breaking on the side of your boat,
But nothing else.
You reach over the side and feel the shock of the water,
The steady bob of the lake's movement playing up and down your knuckles in a rhythm of cold.
You pull your arm back; you enjoy the after-ache in your fingers.
Holding out your hand, you close your eyes
And feel the tiny physics of gravity and resistance
As the liquid finds routes across your skin,
Builds itself into droplets of the required weight,
Each drop ending with an audible tap.
Now, right on that tap - stop.
Here's the real game.
Here's what's obvious and wonderful and terrible all at the same time:
The lake in my head the lake I was imagining, has just become the lake in your head.
It doesn't matter if you never know me,
Or never know anything about me.
I could be dead, I could have been dead a hundred years before you were even born and still -
Think about this carefully,
Think past the obvious sense of it to the huge amazing miracle hiding inside -
The lake in my head has become the lake in your head.
Behind or inside or through the two hundred and eighteen words that made up my description,
Behind or inside or through those nine hundred and sixty-nine letters,
There is some kind of flow.
A purely conceptual stream
With no mass or weight or matter
And no ties to gravity or time,
A stream that can only be seen
If you choose to look at it from the precise angle we are looking from now,
Flowing directly from my imaginary lake
Now try to visualize all the streams of human interaction, of communication.
All those linking streams flowing in and between people,
Through text, pictures,
Spoken words and TV commentaries,
Streams through shared memories, casual relations,
Witnessed events, touching pasts and futures,
Cause and effect.
Try to see this immense latticework of lakes and flowing streams,
See the size and awesome complexity of it.
This huge rich environment.
This waterway paradise of all information and identities and societies and selves.
Now, go back to your lake,
Back to your gently bobbing boat.
But this time, know the lake;
Know the place for what it is and when you're ready,
Take a look over the boat's side.
The water is clear and deep.
Broken sunlight cuts blue wedges down, down into the clean cold depths.
Sit quietly, wait and watch.
Be very, very still.
They say life is tenacious.
They say given half a chance, or less,
Life will grow and exist and evolve anywhere,
Even in the most inhospitable and unlikely of places.
Life will always find a way, they say.
Be very quiet.
Keep looking into the water.
And keep watching.