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Calm • Serenity

The Call of Calm

The water is calm, the horizon endless, the air warm. As we’re being invited to realise, this is our true home: which doesn’t mean that this is where we can be day to day. Far from it, but this is where we long to be, this is what our hearts crave, this is where we have been trying to get to all our lives.

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Caribbean Sea, Jamaica, 1980

We might attempt to look at the image for a whole minute — which is a very long time to look at anything — and to lose ourselves in the vastness. We can meander around the sky, the sea, the line where they meet and the gentle ripples in the foreground. This can be our destination; this is where we should remember to steer ourselves despite a panoply of distractions and futile and draining obligations. We will have succeeded if, after the tumult, we manage at last to be as it already is.

To put it at its grandest, calm is the meaning of life. By which is meant that calm is the thing to which everything else should ultimately contribute and be justified by. Plenty of things are important and notable: money, friends, art, work, but if we probe hard at why they matter, if we push upstream, we eventually find that it’s because of their power to contribute to something else, to what the Romans poetically knew as the ‘summum bonum’, the highest of all goods; a steady unruffled peaceful state of mind. 

That calm ocean is calling to us; it should elicit in us an ache, and a sadness. It’s where we belong but have spent so little time in until now; a realm at once foreign and intimately familiar — from which we are in exile.

At least the image can orient us, and lend us a more secure sense of our intended  destination. This is where we will get to when — and if — we finally and truly win at life.

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