Let it Flow

April 20, 2009

Waves crash. Rushing. Roaring. Twisting. Turning. Breaking. Crashing. Ebbing. Flowing. Dragging. Sweeping. Pushing. Pulling. Foaming. Spraying.
She stares at the blue-green water as it roars: an unceasing hymn, like an overplayed song on the radio. She’s never been here before, heck; she doesn’t even know how to properly swim. So why the beach?
To free herself. Life is just too hard she thinks. She sometimes believes that the life of a teenager is more stressful than that of an adult, but what does she know? School, work, family; all of it requires her to just “get out” sometimes. Now is the time for the opportunity. Even though the ocean is deep, far, long, she stares at it; still wants to take that risk. There’s some bizarre thrill about it, but she is too naïve to understand.
There’s something about this place that draws her in: the sounds of children playing in the sand, the seagulls above, and visitors chatting over music. She’s not sure what it is, but it’s beautiful, luxurious, extravagant. This place is completely different from the hectic nature of home, of reality. For now, she can just relax and enjoy the surreal atmosphere.
But what really captures her mind is the water. Yes, the water that she fears; its wide and open arms beckoning. It can’t be ignored. She’s anxious to step in but doesn’t know how. She tiptoes along the slope of damp sand, careful not to fall, balancing like a gymnast on a beam. The foamy edge of a wave approaches, and she scoots back a little, somewhat fearful. Another follows, somewhat closer. Maybe it’s best to just sit down, she thinks. She does so. The sand is scratchy but soft, a combination of rock and velvet. She’s never felt wet sand before and buries her fingers in its sogginess.
A wave rolls in and wraps around her torso, just for a moment, slightly hugging her. She hasn’t felt this surrounded by water since she splashed in her wading pool as a toddler or when she attempted to swim in summer camp but put her life at risk instead. The water is cold and strong, taking the sand with it, only to bring it back again. The sand washes over her feet and retreats away once more. She’s fascinated by this cycle of ebbing and flowing, staring at the water’s continuous movement. A simple pattern seems completely perplexing, fascinating, bizarre.
But her thoughts are interrupted as a strong wave crashes into her. It pulls out, pulling her down the sandy slope just a bit. She spits out the salty water in her mouth and stands up. Another strong, fast wave. They slap into her with mighty force, but for some reason, she’s not afraid. Why be afraid? It’s just nature, just a being that exists next to her day after day. If nature were more powerful, humans would not exist. Therefore, she wouldn’t be here by the ocean and the water. It all seems to make sense.
But the waves get stronger, and only then does she step back towards the shore, her safety. She once again realizes that she doesn’t know how to swim and doesn’t want to test her luck if she gets dragged out. An image of this happening flashes before her eyes, and she decides to retreat back to dry land. There are certain limitations to nature, she thinks. Because humans can’t control nature, nature is greater than them. Therefore, she can’t step too far out. This fact is a bit of a disappointment to her, but the limitation is slightly reassuring. Although she wants freedom, she knows too much of it would only hurt her, so she accepts nature’s limitation and power. Now this strange philosophy all makes sense.
She looks out into the distance. For hundreds of miles, the ocean spreads out, long and continuous. But at the end, the ocean meets the sky in the horizon, a captivating and mysterious location. That must be where one is truly free, she thinks. But for now, I’ll just settle for the shore.

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