State of the World

The wind rolls in off the Sound, down from Alaska. That wind smashed this city the first time they tried to put it up, and even today Seattle trembles a bit when the wind starts, it might carry Elliott Bay up and over, or it might take down everything along its path and leave us staring into its northwesterly void.

There are two Janus faces to the weather this time of year. These sea breezes bring the clouds and the mists, they bring the greyness of days and the shortness of the afternoon. But they also bring the crisp sea air, you turn up your collar and lean forward to meet them.

I'm surfing the weather, I'm riding this wave as far as I can as it curls above me, racing the limit. Spring is the time of rebirth, but autumn is when you get things done, that stiff breeze clears out obstacles, clears your thoughts, makes you stout-hearted and resolute of purpose, and this is your chance, these chillingly alive autumn afternoons, this is the window of opportunity, here and now, before winter's jaws snap shut.

There are ships being launched, plans have been set in motion, the game is afoot. Advances paid in earnest of later plausibilities, groundwork and foundation pits, missiles in the air but not yet showing up on radar. I can see possibilities, I can see developments, but we are still at the stage where every detail matters, we must paint with single-hair brushes, because this is the part of the picture whose consequences will be magnified a thousand times. There are points of no return approaching, we are all systems go, we are piling up the firewood and preparing to step down on the gas.

Stanislaw Lem wrote a story about a spaceship that crashed on landing, a spaceship that could not understand that its sensors could contradict each other, that could not handle the uncertainties of reality. We operate with imperfect information, we throw darts at invisible targets that may not exist. When the drive towards understanding becomes the drive towards paralysis, it can be lethal.

I am walking in a vacuum sometimes, soundless, lightless, and in such circumstances I have learned rather to keep walking than to strain to comprehend a few scattered details. That way madness lies, but one foot in front the other lies something I know not what but if I press forward I shall meet it in the due course of things and come that time, I trust to know what to do.

And a-waaaay we go.