Northern Gannets, Earless Seals and Spotted Sea Trouts This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 9, 2018
By , Hanoi, Viet Nam

The nonchalance of those northern gannets, earless seals and spotted sea trouts, then alive, pure, exquisite. With beauty equating to the likes of Othello’s white ewe, flocks and herds were floating and swimming - respectively, of course - while the school of spotted sea trouts swam by. Like neighbours, they were. Three very different species with very different idiosyncrasies, yet living, breathing and moving side by side. Was this comparable to human behaviour? Or perhaps, even better, they were just as they were, unable to feel selfishness or appreciation like a human would, and instead, living with the absence of self-reflection.

Then, there was the luster of the blue waters, battling with incessant waves that collided with one another. In no way could this battle be won however, and conceivably, it might have been a conversation rather than a battle. Yes, a conversation. A conversation not only between waves themselves, but between waves and luster, between water and animals, between blue from the sky and yellow from the sun. It was as if the riches of a ship had leaked into the ocean, painting a sight that would mock heaven.

I walked for an hour and twenty-eight minutes to see this (plus about three hours and fourteen minutes of driving). Long Point, it was called; a narrow, isolated stretch of land that hovered by the coast of Cape Cod. It was quite an enjoyable walk, nonetheless. On the left, the rest of the ocean, on the right, an inlet. Each of my steps towards Long Point were on large, pitted rocks that formed a quasi-walkway. At high tide, they would disappear and water would triumph. At low tide, the rocks won.

If I remember correctly, I had walked on two-hundred and twenty-one rocks, all the way until I felt grains of sand make their way through the gaps between my toes. I then ascended a steep hill and walked through a clearing that someone must have made. Though Long Island was uninhabited, people often came here to do what they needed to do, whether it be out of curiosity, or a rendezvous with another.

I fought my way through rows and rows of marram grass, and finally, I had reached. Gannets! Seals! Fish! More water! Was it my thirst embellishing this scenery? Or was I too much in question? To be frank, it was a challenge to see perfectly from where I stood, but there were glimpses of seals diving in and out while the milky gannets floated around, periodically rubbing their beaks to their napes. Fish, of course, went along with the current. Lo and behold, what a beautiful sight! Such grandeur, such magnificence! If two-hundred and twenty-one rocks would bring me to this, may rocks form larger and longer, more pitted and jagged, and let my labouring feet climb hills they create. May more sand soar with the wind and inflame my eyes, for pain has no value compared to this.

However, everything has a however. I stood there, letting the coldness of the water strike the tip of my toes, and watched. A human of this day must know that almost everything we touch, feel and see has an expiration. No, not the act of exhaling air from one’s lungs, but more simply, the end of something. Slowly, yet increasingly...

...Alas, expire it did. “It,” of course, being the grandeur. Like the numbers on the bottom of a can of beans. The collision of it all, waves, colour, light, animals. It crept towards me like a plague of flies would humanity. Washed ashore, a cranium of a devoured sea trout by my feet. The rest of its skeletal figure, perchance, wolfed by the seals, nicked by the gannets. Frayed feathers, buoyant where water meets sand; cracked molluscs, smothered where sand meets larger rocks. Like a ceaseless progression, those earless seals gorged those gannets, those gannets gorged those spotted sea trouts, those spotted sea trouts gorged whatever was smaller. Alas, a beautiful sight no longer.

How could something so beautiful go from harlequin to achromatic in a matter of minutes? How could something so pure be, in reality, so cruel, so unmerciful, so barbarous? Perhaps, it was a glorified remembrance. Perhaps, it was decorated by what I wanted to see, rather than what I actually saw. I was deceived by the mere artistry of nature, for it was Iago, and I, Othello. Though our bodies are our gardens, it is nature that plants seeds of beauty into our minds. One glance, nature is pure, beautiful, exquisite. Another, it is unmerciful, cruel, barbarous, for it is not what it is.

Though, despite the deceivement, despite the cruelty, despite all this trickery, I kept watching. Rather effortlessly, actually. On one hand, I myself may be barbarous by watching barbarity. On the other, I am already part of it all. Cavernously, I thought, maybe, maybe we are more like nature than we thought. After all, we are animals.

And so, one gannet escaped the mouth of a seal. It’s feathers were tattered, but still white. It flew and flew, away from the blue of the ocean, soaring to become a white fleck in the blue of the sky. Nature is not only pure, nor only cruel. It is both. Nature and humans alike, pure and cruel concurrently. Perhaps, that is what beauty is.






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