I read a children’s book in my Children’s Literature course in university called “The Sea-Thing Child” by Russel Hoban. Maybe you’ve read it? It was one of the most moving pieces I’ve ever read. It was about a little creature who gets washed up on shore and starts to build an igloo around himself out of rocks because he’s too scared to return back to the sea. The scene below has stayed in my memory all of these years, one particular line has haunted me almost every day.
(The Sea-thing is watching an eel swim down the river to the ocean)
“Where are you going?” said the sea-thing child.
“Far and deep,” said the eel. “Far and deep.”
The sea-thing child looked at the ocean that was black in the night. “How will you find your way?” he said.
“Finding knows,” said the eel, dark in the starshine on the river. “The finding is in me, and the finding finds the way.”
“Aren’t you afraid?” said the sea-thing child.
“Of what?” said the eel, slipping through the water, tasting in his mouth the sea-brine and the salt night.
“Of the deepness and the darkness and the farness of the sea,” said the sea-thing child.
When the eel answered he was out beyond the foam, and his voice was almost lost in the slap and gurgle of the waves. “Born for the sea!” he called, and headed for the deeps.
I love when the eel says “The finding is in me, and the finding finds the way.” When I doubt myself, when I worry about my decisions, when I wonder where it is I am going, especially in my creative pursuits, I think about this line. I let it reassure me. I let it give me the bravery to keep going.