Yesterday, for the first time in a long, long time, I actually played in an ocean. I've been to the beach on occasion, sure, but it hadn't really occurred to me that I've not been in an ocean's water for two years. Perhaps not ironically, it's also been two years since I've flown. Long-time readers recognize the emphasis of life that I place on travel, and short-time readers might make a connection to the recent The Whale and the Albatross... either way, humanity over the years, for me, has come to define itself by actions so distinctly inhuman.
Let me be frank: I am scared of flying, but will strap on a parachute and fall through the sky with a masochistic grin. I cannot swim to save my life, but have never been afraid of the ocean. I die often in dreams, and with the unusual exception of having my throat slit, my deaths in dreams have always been from high-speed impacts. Such impacts are unlikely in both the ocean and in the air with an open parachute, and maybe that's why I feel comfortable floating... any impact is either going to be softened, or have several rows of teeth.
Ah, well. I'm digressing. Of course, that's assuming I had a point to begin with, which my writing often does not.
I am, at this point in my life, starting over. Almost from scratch. All of my previous experience and education has, essentially and for various reasons, amounted to nothing. Objectively, this tabula rasa probably happened a while ago, but until now I've been terrified of staring at an empty page.
I don't know exactly why, but something was found in translation yesterday. I walked into the water, very aware of encroaching sunburn and a bad left foot (I'd have otherwise ran into the water), and let a wave crash into me. It spun me around and over, but rather than fight it, I just went with it... because, you know, why not? Vertigo underwater is actually much more awesome than vertigo stepping out of an aircraft.
But then my hand lodged itself into the beach floor below. Not sure it was an accident or out of some long-forgotten reflex, but in a moment that felt like a brief forever, with body pulled and pushed by wave and a hand feeling an ebb rip away a loose foundation, everything felt fine. So much so, that even drowning in that instant would have resulted in a smile on my face. Sure, I was in shallow water, but it didn't matter. The empty page suddenly looked inviting.
I've spent my whole life with a plan. A plan for school, a plan for career, a plan for love, a plan for this, that, and the other. It's taken me 31 years to understand that plans are made to fall apart. Murphy's law applies, and plans will no doubt be blown off track by an errant gust of wind or torn off track by a riptide.
I'm at a crossroads. A real one, this time, albeit unconventional and with more than two choices. Strips of sand heading north and south; shades of blue fading into the horizon. Hell, I'm not even sure I can see all of the choices yet, or ever will. But this is definitely a crossroads.
No, I don't have some new found appreciation for life and, no, I'm not going to be turning into some philosophical nice guy. I'm just not going be to afraid of white pieces of paper anymore.
After all, they can be folded into boats and airplanes.