Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Monday, September 10, 2007

Boreham on Falling in Love with our Luggage

When we were boys at school we learned ludicrous lessons about the weight of the air. How we laughed as we listened to the doctrines of Torricelli, and heard that every square inch of surface has to sustain a weight of fifteen pounds! How we roared in our rollicking skepticism when our schoolmasters assured us that we were each of us being subjected to a fearful atmospheric pressure of no less than fourteen tons! But Mr. H. G. Wells has drawn for us a picture of men unladen. His heroes—Mr. Cavor and Mr. Bedford—have found their way to the moon. The fourteen tons of air are no longer on their shoulders. The atmospheric pressure is removed; they have lost their load, and they nearly lose their lives in consequence. They cannot control themselves. They can scarcely keep their feet on the soil. The slightest spring of the foot and they bound like a ball into mid-air. If they attempt to leap over an obstructing boulder, they soar into space like larks, and land on a distant cliff or alight on an extinct volcano. Life becomes weird, ungovernable, terrible. They are lost without their load. Which things are symbolic.

It is part of the pathos of mortality that we only discover how dearly we love things after we have lost them. We behold with surprise our affections, like torn and bleeding tendrils, hanging desolate, lamenting mutely the commonplace object about which they had entwined themselves. So is it with the lading and luggage of life. We never wake up to the delicious luxury of being heavily burdened until our shoulders miss the load that galled them. If we grasped the deepest philosophy of life a little more clearly we might perhaps fall in love with our luggage.

F W Boreham, The Luggage of Life (London: Charles H Kelly, 1912), 4-5.

Image: “… in love with our luggage.”