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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

To move, or not to move

In any landscape, the eye is always attracted first to the things that move: birds, surf, blowing leaves, boats. You can't help noticing them. You flit from butterfly to birch. Does this mean we're innately restless? Is a perfectly calm ocean also perfectly boring? Is a hummingbird sitting motionless in a tree interesting only because we're waiting for it to resume darting and swerving? Would you rather watch TV or look at a Vermeer? Did we evolve to move, or stand still?

I'm not going to answer the questions, of course, mostly because we believe the variety of human response to be astounding, i.e., the modern man says there never is only one answer. (Also, self-incrimination is not pretty to view.) I will only mention what my mother said when I asked recently (and somewhat fatuously, considering she's 87) if she had any "fun" things planned for the next few days: "Oh, no," she laughed, pityingly, "It's so wonderful to stay right here at home."

Uh, well, OK, I can't help myself. I'm constitutionally unable to stop from also mentioning the beautiful lack of mowers, boaters, tanners, chain-sawers on a shore; and the wonder of a blueberry barren reddening in the autumn, the grace of a stand of spruce, an island poking through the fog, the other-worldliness of a page of type - all changing, to be sure, all evolving, but not moving from their blessed homes.

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