Aristotle's Character Years
The execution of action toward an idea is an
act of freedom, self and selfless, a true freedom of movement in no way
hindered by outside forces or the critical eyes of others. It is pure
unselfconsciousness and the key to full enjoyment of the journey to the
matador's sword. The magic lies in the means of action. Noble mulled over this
as he watched the waves hammer into the shore.
For the first hour in Canoa Noble
had hovered around his pipe and map in his hotel room, groggy from the rich
air. It wasn't until he reached the beach that he had his deja vous. The
laziness in the slow movement of palm trees, and the sand around the corner bar
at the end of the pavement he had seen before in a dream. It was a small corner
of the earth arranges in the right way. A great relief spread over him, and
restored faith in the importance of reading the signs. There had to be a reason
why he traveled down 9000 feet of the country to land specifically here, where
a rustic charm rings an ancient bell. A sand dune enclave on the equator where
waves crash on the sandy shores, palm trees lined in a row protecting the
hostels and bars. No matter what utopia is described, it must include sand and
palms and sea. He had found oro verde.
The white soup pushed in rolling
curves and toppled into the shallows, a repository of the wet dust of rock. Two
big pelicans glided over the soup inches from the spray, wings pinched-in and
holding, a flap or two above the crest and then back skimming the white broth.
Aerodynamic Migrants hovered near the sand cliffs that defined the beach like
bookends. The north cliff jutted out into the water creating a pocket for
twenty miles of straight shores of sand beach to San Vincente. It faced
directly into the sunset over Pacific waters in a north-south longitude on the
equator where the sun dropped at the same time everyday all year. It had to be
one of Earth's most richly endowed natural beaches in the middle of the world.
Surrounded by hills of sand and cacti and palm trees into a natural waterway
cut by storms that reached into the valley running east between the hills.
Canoa had good Feng Shui.
the end of the day a hand-glider hovered beside the skinny-winged Migrants,
savoring the bird's-eye view of the soup and surfers and feeling the
sub-woofers on the beach bang out rhythms of soul in their wings. After hours
of hovering, the glider slowly moved over the beach and watched the
volleyballers dive and roll in the sand. Two hundred feet in the air he circled
in using the sound and feel of the air.
Noble walked down to the end of the
beach as the fell behind the distant horizon, the orange rays reflecting
briefly off the shimmering surface, the orange melting into rose and then
purple shadowed by the clouds above. It was if he was in a time vortex, where
the balance of the sea matched the power of gravity so that there was no extra
spin, no misallocation of nature's forces, kissing at the halfway point between
magnetic poles. Weightless and relaxed, and intoxicated by the air, Noble
thought he might like to retire here, or at least have a home base. Whenever a
utopia is discussed, it must include sand and palms and sea. Something
comforting about this spot in South America.
So Noble determined his task was to
adapt. But in doing so, he thought: but there is an old stubbornness in the
selves that govern a man's inner government, a chorus of bitter old men
resistant to change, thinking entities with proven and tested belief systems.
Inertia was the obstacle, not close-mindedness. No man is unable to tweak. But
only few can face their fears in the eye and become a complete man, an Upper Man,
a fusion of selves that can silence the critic within. Caution has to be thrown
aside, and all cynical voices banished from your inner auditorium. If having a
more profound depth of engagement in life increased what Aristotle called character
years, then you evolve more in the same amount of time as someone else the
same age. If one could harness more out of the everyday instead of too much
time spent just getting by, then ones character years grow. Canoa is a
groovy enough place for any man to flourish.
He sat on the sand and stared to the
horizon with the purple hue. Wait, he thought, it's just a difference of being
ruled by ones Inner Policeman versus retiring ones Inner Policeman. No, there's
more, and so his thoughts went thus: belief in true self versus doubt of true
self, self-knowledge versus ignore of self, capability of imagination versus
incapability of imagination, learning through instinct versus ignoring of
instinct, overcoming fear versus overcome by fear, geography versus
domesticity, good chi management versus poor chi management, ability to laugh
versus inhibition, use of doppelgänger versus no acknowledgment of
doppelgänger, purpose of sinning versus no purpose, evolution versus
stagnation, and the wise spending of time versus the foolish spending of time.
There was something to it. Or was it
Noble walked in bare feet along the
sand road of the strip and took a seat with Jim Morrison and Chuck Berry at the
Surf Shak. Drank pints and wrote in his journal: The Ecuadorian riptide, a
different flora, fauna of palms, Inner Policeman drowned and waterlogged, flick
of a lighter and eyes aflame, you deserve a little vice after years of playing
rules safe, it's your little phase. Geography changes time, justifications in
all forms, it's different here, but how does that change you live a day?
Nothing can change time, the sage's dictum repeated infinitum, but physical
matrix is aligned, a day still a day at zero latitude, yet still is the epitome
of a year. To increase the depth of time, the challenge must be met at all
costs, with kind-hearted mischief, the cocoa leaf consumed, tweaking curiosity
to new heights, an evolution-usurping peace, the thrill coming from knowing it
cannot last. Finding the silver thread of time and holding onto it, letting it
reveal the way, the path with all the signs, the walk with the greatest
harvest. But can geography change time, the bedrock of life force and the flame
that sparks, the pathway that opens doors that frees the hand of wit? Is mortal
man able to catch a glimpse of his hidden magic, its richness and manifoldness,
showing the wisdom of a kind deed, embedding in memory forever? Can man master
time, the puzzle of the ages and the riddle to life?
Just as he had finished writing,
Mark the Irishman walked by.
"Noble? Is that you?"
are you doing here?" His wife and child sat down on the patio.
"A little vacation from Quito.
Thought I'd enjoy the beach." Stared at each other. "You?"
"I live here mate. That's my place
right there." He pointed at the three-story hostel and bar beside the Surf
Shak. "Been running that as a pub for four years. Called The Shamrock." Noble,
a little burnt from the sun and wobbly from the beer, walked halfway across the
street and looked at the bar.
"It's beautiful man. But it doesn't
say The Shamrock. It says..." He couldn't read the spray-painted sign.
"I know that-" Mark shook his head.
"They guy who has run it for the last year changed the name to the Snail's Pace
because it was a pun with his name. But no one gets it because no one knows his
name. Strange guy. Retired professor from Canada. He's just terminated his
lease. Will be out on Sunday."
"So will you be running it as The
Shamrock again?" The palm-leaf roof rustled in the wind.
"No, looking to rent it out again.
Have a few nibbles but nothing yet. Damn shame because people are already
"Like the water pump. Just had it
installed too. Pain in the ass that is. And they took a sink."
"You need someone to live in there
to watch the place for you."
"That's exactly what I was thinking.
Say, you need a place to stay? Free rent." Noble sat back, smiled and stroked