There’s a passage in Moby Dick, my favorite book, work of art, titled The Doubloon. A gold piece, a doubloon, has been affixed to the mast. It is from Ecuador, inscribed with various images including what appear to be the signs of the zodiac. Several different ship’s men stand before it one by one and relate their thoughts. Flask sees it as nothing more than a piece of gold. He says, ” I see nothing here, but a round thing made of gold, and whoever raises a certain whale, this round thing belongs to him.” He goes on to equate it’s worth to how many cigars he can buy with it, 960. Stubb, the first mate, stands in front of it and says this:
“Look you, doubloon, your zodiac here is the life of man in one round chapter; and now I’ll read it off , straight out of the book! Come, Almanack! To begin: there’s Aries, or the Ram-lecherous dog, he begets us; then Taurus, or the Bull- he bumps us first thing; then Gemini, or the Twins- that is, Virtue and Vice; we try to reach Virtue, when lo! comes Cancer the Crab and drags us back; and here, going from Virtue, Leo, a roaring lion, lies in the path- he gives a few fierce bites, and surly dabs with his paw; we escape, and hail Virgo, the Virgin! that’s our first love; we marry and think to be happy for aye, when pop comes Libra, or the Scales- happiness weighed and found wanting; and while we are very sad about that, Lord! how we suddenly jump, as Scorpio, or the Scorpion, stings us in rear; we are curing the wound, when whang come the arrows all round; Sagittarius, or the Archer, is amusing himself. As we pluck out the shafts, stand aside! here’s the battering-ram, Capricornus, or the Goat; full tilt, he comes rushing, and headlong we are tossed; when Aquarius, or the Water-bearer, pours out his whole deluge and drowns us; and, to wind up, with Pisces, or the Fishes, we sleep. There’s a sermon now, writ in high heaven, and the sun goes through it every year, and yet comes out of it all alive and hearty…”
Ahhhh. That really sums it up, doesn’t it? I’m not sure what stage I am in, but so often it feels like I am dodging that ram, trying to out run the scorpion. Perhaps it is just a Monday sentiment. A rainy Monday, books and coffee, emails from a friend: I need to lace up my shoes and go hike up the mountain. I will weigh happiness as I take in the view. I do not think I will find it wanting.