Posted by: twotrees | April 8, 2009

Near to Drowning

In the introduction to a soon to be published book by my friend Ken McAlpine, he explains the thinking that passed through his mind which led him to write Islands Apart, (A Year on the Edge of Civilization).  He describes spending time in his yard after sundown, looking at the stars and feeling that he is “…missing something.  I doubt that I am alone.  Almost every day I encounter people who, like me, do not feel empowered by these abundant times.”

Ken cites Tennyson and the actions of Thoreau.  But more importantly, he shares a feeling that many of us feel but may not be able to describe.  Or are too distracted or shallow of thought to explore ourselves.

About this busy world we live in he says “Some are mildly unsettled; others near to drowning.”

Wrote Tennyson, “The ghost in man and the ghost that was once man are calling to each other in a dawn stranger than the earth has ever seen.”

He tells of his thoughts when there is no distraction, no noise.  It’s a pattern of his – an earlier book Off Season took Ken on a trip along the eastern seaboard during the winter, in a counter intuitive northbound route, alone.

It’s through these independent crusades that Ken does his best thinking, perhaps through the lens of loneliness, away from his family and friends.  The new book is a journey to the islands without escort, solo. 

Perhaps we would be better off if more people would make the time to explore themselves and the world around them without distraction, a quite contemplative examination that might lead to better thinking and relationships among us.

It’s a wonderful introduction to a book that takes McAlpine to the barely occupied Channel Islands right off the coast of Ventura. 

As Ghandi said:  “There is more to life than to increase its speed.”

I can’t wait to read it.



  1. not to be pretentious but:
    Ken CITES Tennyson and the actions of Thoreau?
    and more importantly, Gandhi. 🙂

  2. Hm, a most interesting notion, composing from sequestery and silence — of surroundings, if not mind. I’m so often writing from a space of chaos.


    That’s a compelling bit of Tennyson, a far cry from my favorite:

    “…though we are not now that strength which in days of old
    moved heaven and earth — that which we are, we are;
    one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate,
    but strong in will, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

    There’s an interesting kinship between the two quips; they seem thematic cousins, albeit from opposing ends of some dark continuum…

  3. oh, and “near to drowning,” jeez, that is an altogether too familiar feeling in this hardscrabble age.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: