Floating in the void free of gravity I made my way along the side of the ship. I listened to my own breaths. It was so dark and I was so weightless that I had to look for my bubbles to be sure which way was up. I swam backward a little away from the boat and into outer space and waved my arm through the water. Sure enough the phosphorescents appeared trailing my movement like the tail of a shooting star. I let myself tip upside down and floated there watching the gentle snowstorm marveling that a world of such strangeness existed here all the time just under the surface.
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Floating in the void free of gravity I made my way along the side of the ship. I listened to my own breaths. It was so dark and I was so weightless that I had to look for my bubbles to be sure which way was up. I swam backward a little away from the boat and into outer space and waved my arm through the water. Sure enough the phosphorescents appeared trailing my movement like the tail of a shooting star. I let myself tip upside down and floated there watching the gentle snowstorm marveling that a world of such strangeness existed here all the time just under the surface.

-Elisabeth Eaves

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My son, you are just an infant now, but on that day when the world disrobes of its alluring cloak, it is then that I pray this letter is in your hands.Listen closely, my dear child, for I am more than that old man in the dusty portrait beside your bed. I was once a little boy in my mother’s arms and a babbling toddler on my father's lap.I played till the sun would set and climbed trees with ease and skill. Then I grew into a fine young man with shoulders broad and strong. My bones were firm and my limbs were straight; my hair was blacker than a raven's beak. I had a spring in my step and a lion's roar. I travelled the world, found love and married. Then off to war I bled in battle and danced with death.But today, vigor and grace have forsaken me and left me crippled.Listen closely, then, as I have lived not only all the years you have existed, but another forty more of my own.My son, We take this world for a permanent place; we assume our gains and triumphs will always be; that all that is dear to us will last forever.But my child, time is a patient hunter and a treacherous thief: it robs us of our loved ones and snatches up our glory. It crumbles mountains and turns stone to sand. So who are we to impede its path?No, everything and everyone we love will vanish, one day.So take time to appreciate the wee hours and seconds you have in this world. Your life is nothing but a sum of days so why take any day for granted? Don't despise evil people, they are here for a reason, too, for just as the gift salt offers to food, so do the worst of men allow us to savor the sweet, hidden flavor of true friendship.Dear boy, treat your elders with respect and shower them with gratitude; they are the keepers of hidden treasures and bridges to our past. Give meaning to your every goodbye and hold on to that parting embrace just a moment longer--you never know if it will be your last.Beware the temptation of riches and fame for both will abandon you faster than our own shadow deserts us at the approach of the setting sun. Cultivate seeds of knowledge in your soul and reap the harvest of good character.Above all, know why you have been placed on this floating blue sphere, swimming through space, for there is nothing more worthy of regret than a life lived void of this knowing.My son, dark days are upon you. This world will not leave you with tears unshed. It will squeeze you in its talons and lift you high, then drop you to plummet and shatter to bits . But when you lay there in pieces scattered and broken, gather yourself together and be whole once more. That is the secret of those who know.So let not my graying hairs and wrinkled skin deceive you that I do not understand this modern world. My life was filled with a thousand sacrifices that only I will ever know and a hundred gulps of poison I drank to be the father I wanted you to have.But, alas, such is the nature of this life that we will never truly know the struggles of our parents--not until that time arrives when a little hand--resembling our own--gently clutches our finger from its crib.My dear child, I fear that day when you will call hopelessly upon my lifeless corpse and no response shall come from me. I will be of no use to you then but I hope these words I leave behind will echo in your ears that day when I am no more. This life is but a blink in the eye of time, so cherish each moment dearly, my son.

-Shakieb Orgunwall

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My Floating Sea""Pastel colors reflect in my opening eyes and draw my gaze to a horizon where the waters both begin and end. This early in the day I can easily stare without blinking. The pale sea appears calm, but it is stormy just as often. I awe at the grandeur, how it expands beyond my sight to immeasurable depths. In every direction that I twist my neck, a beauteous blue is there to console me. Flowing, floating ribbons of mist form on these pale waters. In harmony they pirouette, creating a stretch of attractive, soft swirls. Swoosh! The wind, its strength in eddies and twisters, smears the art of dancing clouds, and the white disperses like startled fairies fleeing into the forest. Suddenly all is brilliant blue.The waters calm and clear. It warms me. Pleases me. Forces my eyes to close at such vast radiance. My day is spent surrounded by this ethereal sea, but soon enough the light in its belly subsides. Rich colors draw my gaze to the opposite horizon where the waters both begin and end. I watch the colors bleed and deepen. They fade into black. Yawning, I cast my eyes at tiny gleams of life that drift within the darkened waters. I extend my reach as if I could will my arm to stretch the expanse between me and eons. How I would love to brush a finger over a ray of living light; but I know I cannot. Distance deceives me. These little breathing lights floating in blackness would truly reduce me to the tiniest size, like a mountain stands majestic over a single wild flower. I am overwhelmed by it all and stare up, in love with the floating sea above my head.

-Richelle E.

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It made me shiver. And I about made up my mind to pray, and see if I couldn't try to quit being the kind of a boy I was and be better. So I kneeled down. But the words wouldn't come. Why wouldn't they? It warn't no use to try and hide it from Him. Nor from ME, neither. I knowed very well why they wouldn't come. It was because my heart warn't right; it was because I warn't square; it was because I was playing double. I was letting ON to give up sin, but away inside of me I was holding on to the biggest one of all. I was trying to make my mouth SAY I would do the right thing and the clean thing, and go and write to that nigger's owner and tell where he was; but deep down in me I knowed it was a lie, and He knowed it. You can't pray a lie--I found that out. So I was full of trouble, full as I could be; and didn't know what to do. At last I had an idea; and I says, I'll go and write the letter--and then see if I can pray. Why, it was astonishing, the way I felt as light as a feather right straight off, and my troubles all gone. So I got a piece of paper and a pencil, all glad and excited, and set down and wrote:Miss Watson, your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville, and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.HUCK FINN.I felt good and all washed clean of sin for the first time I had ever felt so in my life, and I knowed I could pray now. But I didn't do it straight off, but laid the paper down and set there thinking--thinking how good it was all this happened so, and how near I come to being lost and going to hell. And went on thinking. And got to thinking over our trip down the river; and I see Jim before me all the time: in the day and in the night-time, sometimes moonlight, sometimes storms, and we a-floating along, talking and singing and laughing. But somehow I couldn't seem to strike no places to harden me against him, but only the other kind. I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, 'stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him again in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had small-pox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the ONLY one he's got now; and then I happened to look around and see that paper.It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:"All right, then, I'll GO to hell"--and tore it up.

-Mark Twain

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When I describe for my far-away friends the Northwest’s subtle shades of weather — from gloaming skies of ‘high-gray’ to ‘low-gray’ with violet streaks like the water’s delicate aura — they wonder if my brain and body have, indeed, become water-logged. Yet still, I find myself praising the solace and privacy of fine, silver drizzle, the comforting cloaks of salt, mold, moss, and fog, the secretive shelter of cedar and clouds.Whether it’s in the Florida Keys, along the rocky Maine coast, within the Gulf of Mexico’s warm curves, on the brave Outer Banks; or, for those who nestle near inland seas, such as the brine-steeped Great Salk Lake or the Midwest’s Great Lakes — water is alive and in relationship with those of us who are blessed with such a world-shaping, yet abiding, intimate ally.Every day I am moved by the double life of water — her power and her humility. But most of all, I am grateful for the partnership of this great body of inland sea. Living by water, I am never alone. Just as water has sculpted soil and canyon, it also molds my own living space, and every story I tell.…Living by water restores my sense of balance and natural rhythm — the ebb and flow of high tides and low tides, so like the rise and fall of everyday life. Wind, water, waves are not simply a backdrop to my life, they are steady companions. And that is the grace, the gift of inviting nature to live inside my home. Like a Chambered Nautilus I spin out my days, drifting and dreaming, nurtured by marine mists, like another bright shell on the beach, balancing on the back of a greater body.

-Brenda Peterson

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