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Ambler, No. 18 [On Identifying a Tree]

As for the other conceit that a Peacock is ashamed when he lookes on his legges, as is commonly held… let them believe that hold specificall deformities – Sir T. Browne

A keen observer who finds his way to the rolling hills of the central plains and who, after following the mighty Kansas happens upon the Blue River will make note in his traveling log – as any discoverer would have – that the Big Blue is anything but blue. A murky brown dominates its complexion, and one imagines that it moves so causally not due to lack of an incline but to an excessive amount of mud caked along its banks and bed. The Blue – that is, the part I have observed – is further surrounded by brown and green, which in the sweltering summery days grows more and more brown until the only blue on the landscape is that of the sky. And such a contrast makes the Big Blue even less blue until the one musing on this sad fact turns blue himself and realizes that no river is so aptly named as that melancholy river that makes everything around it quite blue.

Two young men were out that way recently – one asking the other what river their eyes were gazing at – the other answering that he believed it to be the Blue. After skipping a few stones across the way, the younger of the two men – a skinny, elfish looking figure with a small, pointed nose, two bulging eyes and a large, dropping bottom lip decided it was high time they identified a tree. Producing a small, brown book, that elfish creature walked up to a tree, poked it with a stick, and tore off a leaf. The elder, holding the leaf in eyesight of the younger, listened as he flipped through hundred of colorful pictures, hoping to fix his eyes on one which resembled it.

It must be a toothed, simple leaf. Willow? No. Cherry? No. Aye, an Elm! Rock Elm? No. Winged Elm. Wrong bark! Chinese Elm? Maybe? Ah but the leaf looks different. American Elm? Bingo!

That skinny man then turned to another page in his book, spotted the American Elm description, and lifting up his book to the tree, began bellowing descriptions as the elder, fixing his eyes upwards on the mighty tree, either nodded in confirmation or scratched his head in confusion.

“Large!” yelled the Elf. (Yep! the reply and nod.)

“Handsome!” (Yep)

“Graceful!” (I suppose…)

“Often with enlarged buttresses at base, usually forked into many spreading branches!” (Kind of…)

“Forming a very broad, rounded, flat-topped or vase-like crown!” (Not really…)

“Often wider than high! Height! 100 Feet!” (The Reply: Huh? The Elf in response to the reply: Well, I say, that doesn’t describe it at all.)

Scrolling down further with his eyes:

“Here we go. Bark! Light gray!” (Yep!)

“Deeply furrowed into broad, forking, scaly ridges!” (Yep! Yep! Yep!)

“Habitat: moist soils, especially valleys and flood plains; in mixed hardwood forests! (Well, that’s about right.)

And with that the two young men declared the tree an American Elm and the Elf, holding the book toward the tree as the Elder gazed on, read the following description: “This well-known, once abundant species, familiar on lawns and city streets, has been ravaged by the Dutch Elm disease, caused by a fungus introduced accidentally about 1930 and spread by European and native Elm bark beetles.” (Insert a “Huh!” from the Elder here.) “The wood is used for containers, furniture, and paneling.” And after finishing, the Elf left off with a “And we thank you kindly.” It was not until later in the week that the probability of the tree actually being an American Elm proved very unlikely as they are rare in the rolling hills of the plains.


Among the inhabitants of the modern age rests an unhealthy love of nature; among the inhabitants of the modern age rests an unhealthy indifference to nature. Man, so awed by the aesthetic nature of landscapes and bodies of water, is at fault when he laments the creativity of man because it is deemed “unnatural.” But, as the great Sir Thomas Brown has aptly put it: “All things are artificial, for nature is the art of God.” It is perhaps the most natural thing for man to create. Indeed, the soul, the engine that makes man go, derives itself from that eternal and creative soul above, and it is, perhaps, the most natural of things that man creates, that he build and construct and that he do so not simply as a means to an end but as a process in which the construction is an artistic endeavor and the end result aesthetically pleasing.

The American Elm, that mighty tree, may be chopped up in pieces so man can have something as simple as a cabinet or paneling. But what many seem to think in our day is that because a cabinet has little utility, and because an Elm tree is used, that the act is of chopping down the tree puts man at odds with the Elm. But the problem today is not that man chops down Elm trees; the problem is that he makes very ugly cabinets.

The hastiness of man produced by a fierce materialism that is choking our culture has in effect produced an impatient mindset. We would rather take a few months to construct cheaper buildings and begin making profit than to methodically build structures that will last for ages. The modern building will look nice for a few years, but after a while, time begins to win out and what once was a "cute strip mall" (granting such a thing exists) is an abandoned parking lot full of cement.


The difference between a man-made building and creation is variety. A pessimist may look at a forest and yell, “Monotony, monotony, all is monotony!” A pessimist may have some truth behind his analysis. But if the wood had nothing but Poplars or Persimmons, it still remain that there are Poplars and Persimmons. While it is true that modern buildings and homes all look alike, it is equally true that all modern buildings and homes were created. In the grand scheme of things there may be little difference between a frosted Hawthorn and a Rock Elm, but the fact remains that there is a difference and that nature is fundamentally amusing not because of difference but because of existence.

The Sugar Maple, one of my favorite, is interesting not because its leaves are so easily distinguishable but because it even has leaves at all. It could have been made of an iron trunk with periwinkle leaves, or of a trunk of cotton with leaves of hay. But even if it had, from the dawn of time, been made of blowflies and blue jays, modern man would probably be upset that the Sugar Maple was not a “large tree with a rounded, dense crown and striking, multicolored foliage in autumn.” If the bark consisted of edible cheese, modern man would lament it was not “light gray; becoming rough and deeply furrowed into narrow scaly ridges.”


So as the Elf and the Elder made their way out of the wooded area, they followed a path along full-grown corn stalks, towering at least eight-feet high. They followed the blue to a local fishing hole, an enclosed area quarantined by trees and full of bright green patches of land. Fishermen played by the man-made waterfall as the Elf and the Elder crossed a tiny, though treacherous, rapid which led to a pond-like area. Out on a sequestered plot of land, they walked until the laws of nature stopped their trek. The entire area was incredibly peaceful, so peaceful that when one recollects how even a melancholy river like the Blue can produce such serenity, he recognizes that nature is not an end in itself but points us in the direction of that greater Good.

Sam Snow (
Skipper of The Ole Midshipman
19 July 2014

Painting: "Study of the Trunk of an Elm Tree"
By John Constable
Oil on paper, c. 1821


On the 'Lesser Evils'

There is a philosophical phrase floating around in modern verbage that, it seems to me, is misused in terrible ways. I do not say that those who use—or rather misuse it—do so willfully or with any malice for good philosophy. I only say that they do misuse it, and prove the rule that good intentions can still breed bad actions. What is this phrase I am holding from you, the reader, for effect? Let us say that a certain person—let us call him Thomas—began to chew his fingernails, as some are in the habit of doing. Let us say another slightly fastidious person—let us call her Georgiana—who cared deeply for Thomas and his fingernails spoke to Thomas about his unhealthy habit of chewing them. Their conversation might move along the following lines:

Georgiana: “Thomas”
Thomas: “Yes, Georgiana?”
Georgiana: “I have something I would like to discuss with you.”
Thomas: “Shoot.”
Georgiana: “I have no weapon.”
Thomas: “Turn of phrase”
Georgiana: “Ah, like ‘go ahead’ or ‘speak on’ or ‘say your piece’?”
Thomas: “Exactly”
Georgiana: “But I’m worried, Thomas.”
Thomas: “About what, Georgiana?”
Georgiana: “I’m worried that what I have to say will not end up a conversation but a confrontation. Do you see the difference?”
Thomas: “I do. While a confrontation is always a conversation (provided both parties speak), a conversation need not be a confrontation.”
Georgiana: “That’s it! You have a talent for fine distinctions and . . .”
Reader of this post: “Get on with it!”
Georgiana: “Right. Thomas?”
Thomas: “Yes, Georgiana?”
Georgiana: “You chew your fingernails too much, and it would be in your best interest and in the best interest of my nerves if you stopped.”
Thomas: “But Georgiana, I’m happy with the person I am.”
Georgiana: “Well then, I’m glad you are so self-actualized. Never mind.”

And there you have it. Thomas refuses to stop chewing his fingernails because he is “happy with the person I am.” If we apply some careful thinking to Thomas’ phrase we will see an extremely large assumption holding it up, namely, that Thomas is a nail-biter. Now, if there is one true thing we can say about Thomas it is that he certainly is not a nail-biter, no matter how much he bites his nails. In reality, Thomas is—and Georgiana is, and I am, and you are—very few things. We are eternal souls moving steadily toward the Day of Judgment. We are sinners either saved by grace or damned by our own sin. We are in bodies and are either male or female. But outside of a few more scientific observations about our biology we are not many things.

While we live on the first version of this Earth, we are becoming many more things than we actually are. If I play the piano I am not a “piano player” but merely becoming one. I can cease becoming a piano player by one simple action: ceasing to play the piano. In other words, we are either moving toward an identity or moving away from it. We are not static creatures; we differ from day to day. To return to our friend Thomas, he is not a nail-biter but becoming more like a nail-biter with every finger he trims with his teeth. He can begin, at a moment’s notice, becoming a person who does not chew his nails by—you guessed it—choosing not to chew his nails. Thomas will never be a nail-biter; that identity is outside his reach because he will, as long as he lives, have the choice to chew or not to chew.

 I can imagine my audience bristling at the idea that they are not what they imagined they were but only becoming that thing. One of my readers may say, “But I am a teacher! I received a certificate from the state!” In a certain arbitrary human sense, my reader is correct—but in a concrete, philosophical sense he/she is painfully incorrect. I am about to explain why. Now, my teacher-reader and I would both agree on two facts, which I will place in bullet points for easier perusal:

1. No teacher at any school anywhere is or has become or will ever become a perfect teacher.

2. If my teacher-reader, in the next ten minutes, decided to do something despicable to a child (perish the thought), that teacher-reader would cease to be—in the arbitrary, certificate sense and the moral—a teacher.

            If no teacher at any school anywhere is or has become or will ever become a perfect teacher, there is a sense in which no teacher any where is a teacher at all, but merely on the road to becoming one. This is only proved by the fact that a single bad choice will make it impossible for that teacher to continue becoming a teacher, like a fish who has stranded himself on a rock is no longer a swimmer (though he is still a fish and made to swim). In short, most of what we think we are, we are becoming and most of what we think we are not, we can begin to become with a single choice. You are not overweight, middle-weight, or underweight you are becoming one of the three with every meal and exercise choice you make. I do not have good teeth; my teeth are becoming better or worse with every choice I make to floss and brush or not to floss and brush. I do not say that we cannot accumulate celluloid and muscle on our bodies to make us appear more weighty or keep the plaque off our teeth to make us appear healthy-toothed; I only say we cannot identify ourselves completely as those things, because they can be reversed with a series of choices.

            This idea of becoming can also apply to what might be (wrongly) termed the “Lesser Evils”—those activities that are not, in themselves, sinful but can lead to sin when done without moderation or with sinful intent. These activities include (but are not limited to) gambling, drinking alcohol, smoking, and dancing. The first thing that must be said about these activities is that each one can be sinful or have a tendency to lead one into sin. The second thing to say about these activities is that they are not, by nature, sinful and can be done without breaking God’s holy writ. The third thing to say about these activities is that some of them can be positive goods—socially and artistically.

However, I would like my readers to consider these activities in light of the fact that, as humans on this first earth, we are becoming. We can play penny-poker with friends and have a beer without sinning; still, when we play poker and drink we are, in a very real sense, becoming more like poker players and drinkers. And the more we carry on those activities, the more we identify with them, like the man who chooses to eat moon pies every day and begins to resemble his choice.

We are all stepping our way toward the Day of Judgment and we do not have the convenience of being many things; therefore we must become until the day we cease becoming and, finally, are. Therefore, when it comes to those things that are not inherently sinful, we must ask ourselves whether what they are making us is what we want God wants us to be. Once we have this answer, we should act (and become) accordingly.

I understand I have spent more time on the lead up to my main point than that actual point, but there is little more to say. I cannot tell you when you should drink ale or water. I cannot tell you when you should dance and when you should sit silently. I cannot advise you whether to smoke a pipe or breath fresh air—whether to play a card game or reflect on eternity—whether to gamble or give, eat or fast, sing or sermonize, wake or sleep. I can only tell you that, with each choice you are becoming someone. Make that someone becoming to its maker. But understand that you can only be becoming to him because he became one of us.   

R. Eric Tippin
Becoming a Writer on Thurston Street in Manhattan, KS
July 20, 2014

"Man Smoking"
Oil on Canvas - 1853
Constant Guillaume Claes 


Ambler, No. 17 [On Reading a Dictionary]

We applaud many things delivered by the Ancients, which are in themselves but ordinary, and come short of our own conceptions. -- Sir Thomas Browne

It has so happened in the past few weeks, that the author of these delicate Amblers, has moved from his crumbling and dilapidated apartment near the bar district to a cozy haven amongst quaint houses and an even quainter downtown, titled “The Ole Midshipman.” That crumbling and dilapidated apartment near the bar district of my past caused me no small vexation—daily was I holed up in my lodging, confined to a small bedroom and a humming fan, all in an effort to drown out the constant racket of a TV produced from the adjoining room. Crumbs littered the shelf and counters and floors; ketchup was caked on the table as if a man had been slaughtered the night before, his blood already cemented and crying out for justice; bottles and glasses and plates appeared from thin air over night and grew over the week—with the rapidity of modern buildings, so erected only to be surely crumbled and crashed to pieces at the slightest touch of a feather; noise, constant noise till the early morning hours of the gun shots and violence, bellowing forth from the grim darkness and poor lighting; and I—to escape the leaning towers, the blood-stained tables, the noise—that ceaseless noise!—took such refuge in my small room with a whirring fan. Just as Captain Cuttle fond himself imprisoned on cleaning day from the dreadful MacStinger, so I found comfort in the cell of my own room. But anyone who has read Dombey and Son knows that Captain Cuttle eventually flees to the Wooden Midshipman, and so I have fled to the Ole Midshipman, so named after that glorious, yet not financially viable, shop.

My new place is humble enough, and though it is unfortunately not very wooden, it is very old, older, indeed, than my bones after a long amble under the summer sun. The flat was originally a house—made in those days when man still had taste—and upon entering the complex and firmly closing the door, one listens with mirth as a faint creaking is heard ascending the door, as if the entire building is on its last leg. Contrary to my old place—which makes no sound of its own—the building is not crumbling and dilapidated, but crisp and durable. It is like any common old man—brittle on the outside but full of life within.


But it is not youthful because of its youth but because it embraces the youth of Mother Earth. Indeed, the world has grown very old and adapted silly new gadgets with which we humor ourselves to no end. It is a very old man who must be kept alive with drugs; to whom mere presence among nature is not enough to remind him he is living. But in the youth of our world, these electronics were not around, and it is thus a silly thought that anyone is ever labeled “old fashioned” for wanting to return to the youth of the world. It is a very old person, indeed, who cannot see that progressivism is only leading the world to its own dusty death—and as we creep closer we pay less attention to it like an old codger unable to keep his eyes open for twenty seconds at what used to be his favorite stories. I will not drone on about modern drones, however, but continue on with my description of the Ole Midshipman. 

As the dutiful skipper of my flat, I have, as stated above, adorned it in youth, and I have done so by way of minimalism, for minimalism means me and minimalism means quiet—like the world in its youthfulness. No T.V. will ever enter the Ole Midshipman. The internet—that vile destroyer of souls—will not impede. Indeed, not counting a dead laptop yet to be opened, no computer has penetrated the walls. No radio sits on the nightstand. No Ipod or Iphone has scaled the walls: Surrey is forever banished. As I sit and pen this the only noise I hear as I shut my eyes is the monotonous humming of a necessary window AC unit (which sounds like cascading waves if one has an imagination) and the ticking of an analogy clock, shaped as a shipman’s wheel, resting above my desk. This clock is one of two in the flat. Indeed, time at the Ole Midshipman moves in similar fashion as the old wooden ships of yore. The petty pace of time is not taken up by modern motors of entertainment as are other apartments. Perhaps the most technologically advanced instrument is Little Nell, the manual typewriter that from time to time sits atop my desk as the rightful queen of the Ole Midshipman, dictating to all lesser items that she alone rules and reigns.


“But what,” say my detractors, “does one do for fun? How do you ever pass the time?” 

I must say, time is a very fickle thing. It moves not when we are wanting it to and does not stop when we press against it with all our might. But it is only a silly soul who consciously asks what one does with the time. It is only the person, so bored with life, who wishes it away. I say, time in the Ole Midshipman does not move slow enough. When one wants to be entertained at the Ole Midshipman, he reads from any number of volumes on the shelf; or we writes something witty; or he invites a physical friend over and plays cribbage; or chats between sips of ale or tea; or he merely stares out the window; or he opens the side door, and upon stepping out on the plank, sets down his smoking chair (a good housewarming gift from a physical friend) and smokes a bowl of tobacco and sits and thinks; or stares at the lovely garden; or he could eat food, type on the typewriter to a distant (though physical) friend; or, if artistic, draw a picture, but if not artistic, read another book.

“But what,” say my detractors, “does he do when in need of information?”

Well, say I, it should be noted that the author of these loquacious Amblers holds that Google is a terrible giant and the only knowledge required to steer the Ole Midshipman is that which proceeds from a common dictionary. And so, when faced with an unfamiliar word, one opens up that beautiful device and can discover the meaning to virtually anything. It is proper and good that a young man read a dictionary. For, with the constant sexualization of our crumbling and dilapidated culture, nigh every verb will one day refer to that sacred, matrimonial act, and every noun will be so contorted to be a Phallic symbol.* It should further be noted that when that young man finds his way to the Fs, he may just realize that a dictionary is not dry or dull, and that the nature of words are nigh fantastic or even farcical.


Thus, after less than a week of freedom at the Ole Midshipman, I alighted onto that plank at dusk one evening and beheld my small plot of land. I opened a book and lit my pipe as my good neighbors did their own lighting, sending explosions into the air till the dusk was overcome with darkness. I mused to myself—grateful that I resided in a county that still allowed for man to dangerously shoot fire into the skies so that it exploded. Of all the really spiritual things man does, fireworks may remind us more often that the engine of the soul runs on faith. Like the masts of some fast-moving Clipper careening through the seas are pushed by an unseen wind, so man moves from day to day by faith in the metaphysical. So while my neighbors celebrated a nation that has slowly allowed its own prosperity to eat the parent, religion, I rested easy, knowing that man cannot destroy the soul and smoked that pipe in honor of my independence.


*Upon entering my car one fine evening, I described the situation to a dear friend as "twerking" by body. To my dread, I discovered that due to certain foolish knaves who roam around this planet, that lovely word is now off limits as it sounds like "twerk," and I merely wish to lament this slow sexualization of our language which will soon include every word in its grasp.


Sam Snow (
Written at The Ole Midshipman
July 12, 2014

Image: "A clipper at Dawn"
By Fred A. Dundee
Oil on Canvas, 1996 


The Alice Springs Telegraph Station


The central station of the Overland Telegraph [in 1897] was at Alice Springs, the first nucleus of that famous little town. It was a clump of shacks and a stone bungalow above the springs, themselves named for Alice Todd, wife of the chief engineer. This was on of the loneliest places in the [British] Empire. It was a thousand miles north to Darwin, a thousand miles south to Adelaide — the nearest towns. For company the little group of cablemen had only themselves, their animals, the odd incoherent bushman and the occasional grazier or overlander dropping in for a beer in a country where hospitality of the pioneers was still a rule of life. At night especially the Alice cable station must have seemed a properly epic outpost. Then the wind rustled off the desert through the eucalyptus thicket, armies of frogs croaked in the fringes of the pool, the air was heavy with dust and gum-smell, and the horses stood silent beneath the pepper trees. Oil lamps shone through the windows of the huts, and sometimes a sudden chatter of the Morse machine miraculously linked the Alice, for a moment or two, with Calcutta, Malta, and the imperial capital on the other side of the world.

--James Morris, Pax Britannica

"The Alice Springs Telegraph Station"
Ian Mallory 


Ambler, No. 16 [On Friendship]

Primitive Authors... deliver themselves very dubiously. -- Sir T. Browne

It is a sign of a degenerate generation that upholds romance above friendship. Romance, that is, in the erotic sense,1 for every friendship is a sort of romance in the literary sense — life is romance. But today the whole attitude regarding friendship is that it is a right and not a gift. It is similar, I suppose, to the common notion of happiness and pleasure, two concepts the average American lives for and believes he deserves. Friendship, in like manner, because it has been downgraded from a gift to a right has lost much of its value. For if friendship is a gift, one can properly appreciate its function; if friendship is a right, one can merely look at it as one does oxygen or their living quarters. In our times, friendship is misunderstood, though, not because it is undervalued so much as because the pleasures that come from it are overvalued. In overvaluing the pleasures, we undervalue what is the spiritual substance of friendship, and those companions and cronies with whom we revel in the night become means to an inferior end.

A very wise man2 has made the distinction between the nature of romance and that of friendship. Friends are friends not necessarily because of anything peculiar about the companion but because both men have a common interest. This is why the common church practice of placing eight random people in a room and expecting them to be lifelong soul mates rarely works. But I do not wish to comment on the modern church here. I wish to make the argument that a true friend sticks closer than a brother partly because the true friend knows half as much as the brother. It is simply to say that friendship looks outward and upward in a way that romance and solitude, family outings and social gatherings, cannot.

Friendship is simply two like-minded individuals coming at a thing from the similar yet different perspectives and complimenting each other’s opinions. When strolling across this globe in solitude, I may muse on the beauty of a tree or seek to discover a new path, fraught with danger and excitement. Like Andrew Marvell in his Garden3, I bask in the glory of my own free-flowing imagination, and rest in peace, knowing that no one can possibly contradict me. But the nature of my adventures changes when a companion comes alongside and agrees with my thoughts. While there is a danger the man will disagree with me, if he is a true friend, it is only a disagreement that presents a new way at observing the same reality. In the miracle that is humanity, he adds something both unexpected and enlightening to my own opinion. Friendship gives us added perspective to a world based in absolutes. It is not to say a friend must necessarily agree with you that the rhino at the zoo is majestic. The friend may think the rhino a very hideous creature. It is to say that friends, true friends, will at the very least agree that a rhino is rhino.

It should be noted that the temptation of friendship is exclusiveness. Friendship must necessarily have some degree of exclusiveness, but it should never look down on outsiders. But this has been discussed,4 and what I believe is even more dangerous to friendship today is that two men can stare at a rhino and disagree that it is a rhino at all. That is, so few people today believe in any common ideal of morality or truth that their basis for friendship becomes, out of necessity, open-mindedness.

Now, friendship based on open-mindedness is like a sailing ship with multiple masts, hoisting sundry sails all pointing in different directions causing the ship to spin around in awkward circles upon a raging sea of hot air. And the irony of open-mindedness is that it is the surest way to close-mindedness. Consider a day at the zoo among modern pseudo-friends. One member of the group, a Marxists perhaps, is forever commenting on how the bourgeoisie have improperly commodified the rhino—not using it for something productive, while the eco-critic comments that the rhino should be set free to wreak havoc on the Marxist. The feminists of the group agrees with the eco-critic but only if the conditions on freeing the rhino allow for a female human to release a female rhinoceros, keeping the male rhinos in captivity. Of course, this is complicated if the Marxist happens to be a female, in which case, the feminists has to make a calculated decision: either the female rhino must be slaughtered for the sake of female commodity, or the female Marxist must be sacrificed for the sake of feminist rights making way into the animal kingdom. We then ought to muse a bit on what happens when their dear friend the existentialist comes along and questions whether there actually is a rhino or Marxist at all.

In saner societies friendship can be based on common standards. If friends agree that the rhino was created by a transcendental God, they can both look at it with a wonder that is founded on truth but colored and flavored by individual experience. We can both marvel not even at the majesty of the rhino but at the very fact that a rhino exists at all, and that it looks like a rhino.5 We can both place value on it because the rhino exists in a worldview where things can be valued because there is a common standard. One friend believes the rhino is quite a disgusting creature, wallowing in the mire; another friend believes the rhino’s habits proper and pretty; both agree that the rhino looks like a pre-historic version of the unicorn.

All this is to say that friendship, true friendship, cannot exist properly without a foundation. Without some agreement on morality and truth, with mere open-mindedness, the friendship will inevitably be based on the lesser pleasures, those toys that give instant gratification and allow men to forget or ignore the differences that divide. This is why so many pseudo-friendships fall back into the same petty pleasures such as drink or sex or T.V. For these pleasures are instant and allow for a certain level of disinterestedness toward those in company, and any chance of intellectual or spiritual conversation is squelched as quickly as any campfire within eyesight of a raging rhinoceros.

True friendship, then, embraces generalities and common beliefs; it sticks closer than a brother because it can offer a much different perspective on a very similar reality. It is this foundation that allows friends to fall back on each other—why a three-fold cord is not easily broken. It is why true friends can stand side by side, and, without ever acknowledging the other, take pleasure in the company. For both men look out on to the same horizon but through their conversation look beyond to those higher plains, more magnificent than any mountain, more spacious than sea. Friendship affords us what solitude only hints at and romance impedes. It gives us not a lone world but multiple, not a world limited to the beloved, but a world unlimited with things to praise. With friends one sees multiple worlds in one, full of plentiful perspectives and cascading colors—full of as many possibilities as there are souls.


1I proceed to use Romance in the erotic sense throughout.

2C.S. Lewis, in The Four Loves.

3See Andrew Marvell, “The Garden.”

4C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves.

5Thought courtesy of G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Sam Snow (
Written at "The 'Ole Midshipman,"
In a moment of independence,
July 4, 2014

Painting: "African Rhino"
By Peter Philip
Oil on Canvas, n.d.