The Lazer Speaks. Compass


 As a kid I always thought looking out from the beach that I was staring at Europe. It seemed natural to think that looking out across the water my gaze would eventually end on the shores of Spain, France, England or Ireland. The water is east, right. Well, it took me 33 years of living in Rockaway to figure out what the natives have always known: looking out over the water is south. You see Rockaway juts out almost parallel to Long Island and a bit perpendicular to the mainland, and points south of all places.

This means that facing the water is south and turning to the right will allow you to watch the sun set because to the right is west. Now the tough part about this means that if you turn to the left facing the water you will be facing east of all places and that will eventually get you to Europe. Kind of makes sense because if you have ever seen the sun rise in Rockaway, you know it rises to your left facing the beach. You know this because you are either an early riser, or sometimes you wake up on the beach after a good night! If it’s Canada you’re interested in, then face away from the beach and look toward the bay. That’s north, confusing right?

I still haven’t figured out whether a Nor’easter means that the storm is coming from the northeast towards us; or, it’s coming from the west heading toward the northeast. I figure I have about 25 more years to figure that one out.

Phones and cars have GPS now and can tell us all this; you don’t really need a compass anymore. But they are fun to play with, and are helpful when you’re lost in a forest and you left your cell phone recharging somewhere. It would be great if any of these devices could help with our moral compass too. Wouldn’t it be awesome to simply look at your phone when faced with a moral dilemma and have it point toward the right answer, the right thing to do? Those directions are even harder to fathom than which way is south at the shore. They sometimes take a lifetime to learn. We go to school and learn the lessons of the great masters in philosophy; and we are born into the religions of our parents, teaching us right from wrong. But like looking out from the shore, sometimes its hard to figure out which way is which.

There are some simple rules, just like looking for the North Star to navigate from: be kind to others, treat everyone with respect, and don’t be mean. I am fond of paraphrasing a saying that hangs in the mermaids’ yoga school: many paths, one truth. Meaning no matter what religion or philosophy you ascribe to, the North Star is always north.

So know the simplest rules are the best. You don’t need an iPhone to tell you to be i-nice, just treat people the way you want to be treated and it will all work out. Now I wonder, is it true what we learned as kids, that if we dig a hole in the sand at the beach we would reach China? I better Google that one.

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