Because I couldn’t just, ‘lol’.
Yesterday a man gave me a flower. I didn’t know him, not his name, I can’t even recall his face and I didn’t even realize he was speaking to me until I heard him call me, ‘miss’ just over my shoulder. He handed me the flower, it was small and purple and the man smiled and I thanked him. It smelt like pink lemonade and inwardly I felt warm. No one had ever just…Given me a flower and a smile before. I watched as he crossed the street and gave a flower to another woman, who smiled and thanked him as well, took in the sweet smell of the petals as the man just seemed to disappear into his yard again.
Today another man gave me a paper and a book. And I stood in his bookshop and I thanked him, and this feeling, like a heavy wave rolled over me. Not just the honor, which I stated, but something I couldn’t name, not until I had left the store and made my way to the beach – yet again. Within the pages of this paper and the words of this book was something I hadn’t felt in a long time. And not only was this sensation from the physical gifts I was given, but from the words and actions of this man. He told me histories, of people and a place, he told me stories, he laughed, showed me a picture, drank his coffee, spoke when I couldn’t, and called me a writer, which made me blush. And it was then I knew, even if I couldn’t recall the word, but I felt important. I felt worthwhile. And even those two words can’t sum up the magnitude in which I felt them. It wasn’t JUST the words he said or the things he gave me, but the way in which they were presented. Sincerity and gratitude were behind it all. But it was time for me to leave, feeling good and happy, to do what I came to the beach to do – walk and think.
I passed the place where I witnessed a log ripped from its spot, pulled by the hands of the tide, recalling how I thought of death, and why I wanted to be in this place so badly. Cannon Beach – to me – seems so unchanged, so unaltered from my childhood memories. And I, like that log, was stuck, too far from the others to be safe from the water. The tide came and pulled me away, taking the sand out from beneath me, testing to see how far I’ll roll, and now, it’s giving me a new place to rest – at least for the moment.
I put my hands on the rocks as I passed them. The curve of their shape drowning out the sound of the waves in the distance, turning the constant voice of the ocean into a near whispering murmur. I walked around them, over them, seeing a side of them I’d never looked at, from the seas point of view. Some were so rough, life growing on every inch, green and brown and black. Others were far more barren, but they were cold, smooth and fragile under my fingertips. Yet, they were all cracked, they all had lines pressed together, some didn’t match up, with lumped edges, while others fit like the pieces of a puzzle. The water had done it all.
I was mad for a while. Age doesn’t mean wisdom, I thought and glared. Beauty doesn’t mean peace and vast doesn’t mean endless. Power doesn’t give you – ocean – the right to erode some rocks to perfect, unlivable smoothness and leave others riddled with bumpy life. And I childishly thought…What gives water the right to do what it does? It takes, so much. It pulls the logs into it and it takes lives with the same eager touch. It washes over, and it forces under and sometimes, the worst of times, it doesn’t move at all, doesn’t take and doesn’t give.
When you stand next to the sea, you don’t feel big. You don’t feel important, or worthwhile, or even human. You feel like a small speck on a scale so large your presence isn’t even registered. At first this was a comfort. To feel like nothing, like your mistakes and your life are just soaring under the radar, unessential. But today it felt infuriating. Like the voice so caught in my throat, or the words along with that voice. I wanted to be essential, to something, to anything – and the waves, the tide, crashing and bubbling along weren’t there to pull me in today, or to sing their unending song, or be beautiful in the sunlight just burning through the clouds, they were there to tell me it’s time. Time to do what I can to feel alive again, to pull myself from the great mouth of the sea and onto land.
Today the Pacific Ocean gave me an idea. Something just as warm feeling as a purple flower from a stranger, or a sense of impact/importance from a man I’d met only twice. I thanked her and I smiled at her gift, because she is wise and beautiful, full of power and her existence may not be vast, but her message is. Her gift may have been spoken only to me, but her voice still laps and calls onto the shores and into the ears of countless lives, though it may be sweet and calm or unrelenting in its sound, her message to you will be clear when you set aside your feelings and listen. Today the Pacific Ocean taught me I need to BE as opposed to exist. I need to DO as opposed to not. I need to WRITE as opposed to blushing when called a writer. I need to SPEAK.