Sunday, April 17, 2016

At Sea Bright, last spring

Thoughts from a girl on May 12, 2015
The moon over the water: the moonlight hitting the water
the clouds, like these sheets of sky stuck out, held apart from the rest of the sky

It is hard to remember that we are living in the Resurrection, except by the shores of the sea.
The sea, so loved by God, yet less loved than the littlest person.

Dip my toes in the cappucino surf,
the coffee-colored foam that laces the damp, dark sand.

My feet dip into the hard, smooth surface, the grains of sand running up and down my feet. I feel a blister forming on the toe that digs into the rough surface of the shoreline.

The sea breeze licks my face, and I feel the wrinkles of weeks of city stress being eroded away. The sunlight dances on the water, and I am running, in that way you run not to exercise, not out of compulsion, but out of Joy. Running, because, if I never tired, I would never stop. Running, because that feeling of flying only comes in the middle of a long run. Running because what is running but a miniature version of my entire life.

We forget that we spend our entire lives speeding through each moment, as runners' legs speed through sun-specked woods or bright summer beaches. If we are runners, what are we running toward? Usually, on my Runs For Exercise, I am running to rack up running mileage. I'm running for the run itself, which is an empty sort of exercise. There are indirect goals that my running wants to achieve: perhaps muffin top management, or adding some muscle tone to the tree-trunks known as my legs, or seeking stress relief, or a desperate grab for inspiration in the midst of writer's block.

But this is not running toward something. This is self-serving running. Running without a cause; running with no end in sight. I will simply run until I tire of it, until I wear my muscles out; but I will never reach the point where I will say: Ah, I am here now. I have arrived at the goal and I may now finally rest.

This is the way I think the boring, barren narrative of life of the "adult world" is presented. We go. We go, go, go and go. Hoping, along the way, to improve ourselves, to perfect our running posture, to tone our bodies, to improve our miles per hour and PRs. But we do not have a goal, other than endless striving for perfection and balance in the midst of constant activity.

But running with a goal: what an entirely different activity that is. Running towards a goal is exhilarating. Running towards a goal feels like flying. And as you grow nearer and nearer, the limit of your Joy spinning out into infinity, you want that moment of infinite desire, and movement towards the object of the desire to continue forever.

It is so easy, now that we have been unleashed from the playground of education, and the relative freedom of a student's schedule, and the luxury of time set aside to cultivate clarity in our thoughts and hears, to forget about running towards a goal. It is very easy, in our attempts to scrape together an independent existence, to forget about Joy. It is very easy to get caught up in running for the sake of self-improvement. Our vision narrows until we forget to look towards the horizon, and instead find ourselves caught up in the inward-focused gaze of self-examination. We can become preoccupied with minutiae.

But here, on the shores of the sea, darting through title pools and bounding over these sharp, slippery rocks, with the surf roiling around them, I find that runner's joy.

I run past the men throwing their lines into the dirty Jersey surf. They cast their lines in, standing tall on their little fishing pole stands. The lines, taught, tense, disappear into the pounding Jersey surf. They call out to one another, and compare notes on tides and currents, waves and ebbs.
I wonder, if someone ran by and called out: "Follow Me!", if they would let the lines dangle limp and impotent, and follow after him. These fishermen have a noble calling, it seems to me. There's something very noble about abandoning your nets into the sea.

I watch my footprints sink into the sand, knowing they will soon be washed away. Some of them, as I look behind me, are already fading. And as I cross a particularly firm portion of the beach

The tide waves in and out, in and out, just like friendship, which ebbs and flows like the tide: a friend is lost to you in the murkiness of anger, or the bitterness born of the wounds of compounded misunderstandings.

There is nothing you can do, but let the tide ebb and flow and love them like the boundless Thou they are: as boundless and as intangibly beautiful as the sea.

I would rather someone engage with me than give me a vapid compliment, I would.

And the sea someone whispers to me that I am eternal, that I can live my whole life in the sunlight and the waves, between the surf and the sand dunes. That somehow, the world is not as stuck in the muddle of mundane taxes and forms, all the human construction that makes up most of our world is not the end nor even the beginning of the story. The world is much more mysterious: the world is more ocean than land: we are too land-bound, forgetting that there exists whole other aspects of the world that we cannot even account for, that are truly the stuff of human existence, if we would chose to see it.

I stand on the shores of the sea, the sunset glistening on the water, making the surf sparkle, and enveloping the entire air with golden sunshine.

This moment. Here.

I am young, twenty-three, and beautiful. And I feel so young, and I wish I could grab this moment and hold onto it forever. But I can't. All moments have to slip through our fingers like the sand back into the sea.

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