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Entry 16.0 “Unintended Purpose”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of unintended consequences. For example, with the automobile came the fatal ten-car pileup, with the discovery of the atom, the atomic bomb. Slurpee – brain freeze. I’m sure these results seem much more obvious in hindsight than they did at the conception of the idea, but the real question is, “If the consequences were laid bare in front of the innovator, would they trade their role in history for the peace of mind rewarded to relinquish their notion?”   

 

Early on in my artistic career, I was given the opportunity to license my artwork to a renowned distillery. At least 3 of my designs were chosen to be meticulously printed and applied to their enticingly shaped amber-tinted bottles containing their answer to the finest hard liquor in the U.S. Though I personally abstain, I was immediately flattered and seduced by the promise of, one part: brand recognition, and three parts: generous compensation. I fantasized about how I would spend the money, and even how I would humbly refuse the liquor if it was offered to me, despite its label boasting the work of my own hands.

 

Near the end of the deal, I woke up cold. There was no moment of agreeable haze that’s famous for misplacing dreams come morning, there was only upright-back and sweat-through-shirt. After the dream, I was absolutely convinced that an alternate me was, in some measure, responsible for so many deaths. I witnessed each person, time and again, as they stumbled through the well-traveled floor of the liquor store and were led to my designs in a sea of endless glass. I witnessed the harm that the brown and clear liquids that passed my upside-down labels did. I saw the carnage, and tasted the tears of loved ones. I backed out of the deal via email at 1:45am EST.

 

Similar to unintended consequences, I am also enamored with the “unintended purpose.” Assuming the events in one’s life are not altogether random, is it possible to consciously forge a trail branching off your life’s intended coarse? And if so, how do we know when our unintended purpose exceeds that which was written for us?” 

 

The answer must be different in every situation, but the short answer is probably, “no one can ever truly know.” That said, I like to think that there is some kind of special mark that is indelibly left upon a heart that has changed its course for good; a kind of light that is so bright that it darkens everything behind and illuminates lurking obstacles ahead. I can think of no better example than the story of a rocket-shaped lighthouse that I found on the water world named Valseidon.       

 

The vast and seemingly endless expanse of an ocean view has invoked both profound spiritual awakenings and the darkest pangs of fear and dread in different observers. The sun descending into the deep, over an infinite panoramic horizon, means something starkly different to a couple sharing the view from a cruise ship balcony, and the floating man grasping for the last shred of his ravaged vessel. The first time I witnessed the seas of Valseidon, I felt all of those things at once. 

 

Our guide, Auria, who somehow managed to make her well-fitted field gear appear as professional as business attire, was assigned to give us a tour of an important historic site by our host Pinnacle Nth. She raised her voice in a losing battle with crashing waves that collided under our luxury hovercraft. My guess was she could’ve sealed the windows, but couldn’t resist giving myself and the other artists in her purview the full effect of her home planet’s fury. I thought I saw her smirk when she looked back and not one of us was even close to dry.       

 

Auria explained that the gravitational pull between Valseidon and her mammoth blue moon Muse was responsible for, what can only be described as, “unfettered violence” on the water – which covered 92% of the planet’s surface. The one supercontinent “Omsingeld” (ominously translated to English as, “surrounded”) was named by the Dutch American explorer Coen Jansen who led the first expedition to the planet. 

 

Regarded as a folk hero of sorts, Coen Jansen’s storied legacy began the moment he entered Valseidon’s atmosphere and immediately encountered a fierce electrical storm that disrupted his vessel’s instruments. Coen’s rocket The Lordship (the leader in a series of smaller colony ships) managed to manually navigate a gauntlet of towering rock formations to make an emergency landing not far from their original trajectory. In the electric serge, all communication with the other ships in the fleet was lost.    

 

As Coen and several scouts were prepping to disembark the ship to ascertain the safety of the original landing site for the vessels that followed, the tide rushed in and quickly submerged The Lordship’s massive thruster, rendering vertical takeoff impossible. After burying its spike-like anchors deep into the rocky ground to ensure that the rocket stayed upright, Coen shifted his attention to the incoming colony ships. 

 

Not yet visible to the naked eye, but fast approaching, the colony ships were also flying blind and had no way of knowing that their landing site was impossibly treacherous. Like a light keeper of centuries past, Coen lit up The Lordship like a beacon and flashed every available light using emergency codes to warn of the imminent danger. When the colony ships descended through the night clouds and into vision, each saw Coen’s frenetic warning signals and rerouted their course away from the unforgiving gauntlet of rocks and submerged landing field and touched down safely inland.

 

After a brief pause, Auria told us proudly that she was a direct decedent of Coen Jansen and would have the privilege of showing us the very rocket that still stood as a monument to that night.  She explained that after Coen Jansen and his people settled in to colonize Valseidon, he requested the specialized parts from Earthside to repair the rocket, but the parts never came. Meanwhile, the tide cycle left the rocket immersed for weeks at a time until most gave up on the thought of ever seeing her fly again. 

 

As our hovercraft rounded a massive rock formation leading into a sizable cove, The Lordship was revealed, roughly a third immersed in the angry waters, standing tall against the waves. It was immediately evident that the towering structure had been meticulously cared for over generations of people to whom it clearly meant a great deal. Turquoise, purple and lime stripes wrapped the body and looked like they could’ve been painted the day before we arrived.

 

Auria explained that over the years her ancestors converted the rocket into a true lighthouse and even lived in it at times, each family adding their own additions to the esthetic and functionality of the structure. A circular balcony known as a “widow’s walk” (named for the waiting wives of sailors) was retrofitted to the exterior of the rocket and provided a breathtaking open-air view of the cove. An apparatus was built over the top section to magnify and directionalize the light of the powerful lantern that was installed in the cockpit. Communication arrays stabbed northward like abstruse spires, and an ornate lightning rod (to minimize the damage inflicted by direct strikes) climbed high above the rocket’s nosecone. Any vessel that approached the western shores of Omsingeld by land or sea used The Lordship as a beacon and heeded her instruction upon approach.

 

I ask again, “how do we know when our unintended purpose exceeds that which was written for us?” In the case of The Lordship, was it when it ceased being a rocket and became a lighthouse? And when was that exactly? When it helped save the lives of dozens of colony ships with its beacons, or when it gained the components to make it fully functional? Could it even have been when it provided a home, a purpose, and a deep generational connection to the descendants of Coen Jansen?

 

It’s hard to know how my life has changed because of the decisions I’ve made. I also constantly wonder what the unintended consequences of this artistic quest into the Throughworlds could be. Some terrify me, and some delight. I guess for now I can only check myself regularly for that indelible mark on my heart – that light so bright it darkens everything behind and illuminates lurking obstacles ahead.           

 

I charge forward heeding that light.    

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