The capacity of a human

According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, inuksuk or inukshuk, means “to act in the capacity of a human.”

As I’ve mentioned in several posts gone by, one of my favourite places to run to is the tiny fishing village of Blue Rocks just six kilometers from here.  From June to September, if it is nice weather, there are bound to be tourists checking it out with mouths agape at the rustic beauty of it all. (For the record, I too am easily guilty of agaped amazement when in Blue Rocks.) The tourists, and occasionally some crafty locals, often take to building little rock cairns, pyramids, inuksuit, or inunnguak which are the rock piles meant to look most “human”. Presumably this is an act meant to leave a mark of existence, though an impermanent one. They last anywhere from a few hours to days depending on the care put in to construction, tide times, and wind and weather patterns.

The thing is, I find them to be contradictory. One the one hand, they add a unique aesthetic beauty to the stark cold of the rocky-oceanic landscape. On the other, they are just a pile of rocks left behind by curious strangers that detract from the natural beauty and ruggedness of the area.

In Blue Rocks, however “natural” and “pristine” it may be perceived to be in, there are no shortages of human presence. Just a quick 360 look about and you’ll find boats, homes, shacks, wharves, anchors, lobster traps, buoys, and all kinds of minuscule relics from seaglass to rope fragments and rusting ancient nailheads.

To me, leaving yet another mark that a human was indeed there makes the rock cairns nothing more than trivial pilings of boredom, not a profound statement of our human capacity.

“To act in the capacity of a human” is to relish in the salted sea breeze as it dampens your face in thick waves of fog. It is to breathe in the briny air flavoured with dulse and rockweed. It is to fix a gaze on the rolling surf as it licks and laps over the deep cobalt rock outcroppings and feel connected to something more profound than our ephemeral selves.

The capacity of a human is to run for no other reason than the run itself. To run to the end of the road in Blue Rocks, pause to deeply breathe and scan the sea-meets-sky horizon, and leave the place exactly as it were.

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