I watch the water reflect off of the sea turtle’s back. The simplest movements cast so many different reflections. How many different reflections has this one turtle passed in its very long life time, and how many more will it have to reflect? I think of these things while holding my breath, and suddenly I find I have none left. Jerkingly, I pull my self towards the surface of the ocean. Is it my sudden movement scares the turtle, or is it simply time for it to move on? Whatever the reason when I have taken another breath and swim back under, I find the turtle is gone. But there is a shiny shell which captures my attention and within seconds my remorse for the lost turtle has subsided. The new shell, too throws many reflections into the deep. I delicately finger the smooth pearly inside. Each tender push throws a new ray of light in my face. I forget about the turtle, and the reflections it cast on me. But all too soon, I need to breathe, and the shell is gone when I return. Bored with the ocean, I find the familiar touch of the sun’s rays lessening. I look to the horizon and see the body of the sun is nearly at the foot of its celestial bed. It is time to go. Red light floods the beach where I wash up after riding in the cold waves. Everywhere there are shells, but none like those of my turtle, or the one with the pearly smooth insides. These shells are dull, but they crunch under my feet so I do not mind their presence. But then I see it, a twinkle of light just ahead. Oh the reflection it throws is magnificent. I bend to pick it up, excited at what it might be, but I find a sharp edge, which pierces my skin. The magnificent object is just a broken bottle, but it throws the most wondrous reflections I have ever seen. Rainbows dance on the white sand. I poke it with a stick I find laying in the surf. The stick is smooth to my touch and is slightly browned from the few drops of blood that have spilt from my finger. And so prodding the bottle, I watch the rainbows twirl in the dimming light. More and more rainbows continue to arrive at the festive dance. Unfortunately, it was growing too dark and my rainbows leave as swiftly as they arrived. As the last rays of light touch the beach, I carelessly place my sunglasses into my tacky rainbow beach bag. Unnoticed by myself, a ray of light from the sun is caught by the quickly disappearing frames and it is thrown to the sand below. Maintained by the fraction of my glasses peeking over my beach bag, the light follows me to the car. Feeling the rough cloth of the bag slide over my legs, I notice there is an unexpected tug at the end. The last remaining ray of light from my sunglasses falls to the black pavement speckled with the white sand of the beach. A small sound emanates from the nearby sand. Looking over I find a small black kitten looking quizzically at the reflection of my sunglasses. The parking lot is empty, only my old red car sits there. The kitten had followed the reflection of my sunglasses, as I had followed the reflection of the turtle, shell, and bottle. Hesitantly, I reach down to stroke the careful hunter. Her black fur is soft and from her throat comes the ceaseless sound of a well tuned engine. From the darkness of my car I name the animal Shadow for black is the color of her fur, and black is the color of a shadow. Shadows, I think to myself, are not the absence of reflections, but reflections in and of themselves. And scooping the animal in my arms, I look into its eyes, and see in them myself. The reflection of myself.
June 17, 2009