July 31, 2006


The name for this blog was taken from the opening paragraph of the first chapter of Heman Melville's epic Moby Dick. It has particular meaning for me as my father died in a very damp, drizzly November when I was eleven. I also love the quirky originality of Melville and the phrase also seems to be a good fit for my tendency towards melancholy.

It's a tendency I think we all feel, the need for solitude or at least the need to get away from civilization and responsibility. I have struggled with finding the balance between solitude and society for as long as I can remember. I live in a small, crowded house with my wife and two daughters and we many times go to our separate spaces. Not by design or even consciously, but because we all need our time alone.

I once spent a weekend alone with the brothers at Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, S.C. The brothers are of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (commonly called Trappists). It is a lovely location filled only with the roaring silence broken at regular intervals by the tolling bells.

It was more than I had bargained for. The peace and quiet was palatable for about the first six hours then I began to feel very restless. I took many books to read and planned on wiling the days away engrossed deep in the texts. I did do a lot of reading but I fretted even more. Perhaps it was the sensory deprivation (I tend to be a news junkie) that made me so uneasy. Or maybe I did not want to face myself.

Even more unsettling was the realization that perhaps I did not want to face God. I went to find Him, but then I was afraid to look Him in the eye. Like Jacob I have been wrestling with something that I finally realized was God. It's a bout He's sure to win. He won't turn me loose.