26 June 2008
When you are standing in front of the ocean, when you are looking at the water with the eyes of a seven-year-old, you think that the ocean goes on forever, that the waves crashing onto the sand will fall back into the ocean and return again and again into forever.
When you are standing in front of the ocean, when you are looking at the water with the eyes of a two-year-old, you think that the sand and the water and the air and the sun and the noise are all exploding into a sensory overload of your head, your body and your soul. It is all too much at once and all too little and as you try to drink all of it in, you begin to laugh at the absurdity of it all, and you simply learn to delight in the what is there in front of you--first, the sand, then the water as if the rest of the world existed to make you become the water.
When you are standing in front of the ocean, when you are looking at the water with the eyes of a forty-one-year-old, you wonder how it is that you swam in this same ocean, that you slept on the same sand, that you walked along the same shore year after year for so many years and not once did you contemplate that it would only be yours for your childhood. That you would walk away from that ocean in your teens and not return again until well past your twenties. That when you returned, the forgotten days of childhood, the innocence of it all, the memory of it seems distant and fond and all with rose-colored glasses.
And when you are standing in front of the ocean as an adult, you realize how momentary it all is, how fragile it is and as the waves come crashing down and the sea salt sprays your body and the water touches your skin, you close your eyes and breath it in, breath it in so that this moment when it passes is with you forever so that like the conch shell you can carry it inside of you and hear the waves, smell the salt and feel the breeze at any given moment even when you are 1,200 miles away.
And you do the same with your children so that when they leave home whether at birth or as they walk out your front door and into their own lives, you can close your eyes and smell their breathe, feel their warm milkiness against you and their soft, downy hair that has turned coarse and altogether disappeared into forever like the ocean and the waves and the memory of the sand all at once warm on your body and stuck between your toes.