15 July 2018

Plumb The Swell

It may be known by the pelicans, this wreck that lies not far offshore from the low tide line. The spray-flecked birds roost upon the crossbars in a display of maritime avian inscrutability. They seem comfortable perching on the rusty wet iron. Such a tableau piques the interest. It invites one to come investigate, to see what the pelicans see. Who would not want to commune with such creatures, perhaps divine some insight into a life spent in symbiosis with the sea? No one. The swim to the roost should be an easy commute. Yet it is the swell, vitreous and undulate, that holds one back.

Of course the swell makes the sea seem alive. A huge, peculiar beast seeking to swallow those daring enough to depart the safety of the strand. Ripples on the surface bear more than a passing resemblance to scales on a serpent or a dragon. Such an image cannot help but evoke nervousness as a swimmer wades into the surf. The roil and tumble of waves is exhilaration embodied in tidal energy. They curl in a jade opacity, and it is this opacity that strums the nerves with anxiety.

What the eyes cannot see the mind fills in with abandon. In the full light of day, no less. The surf becomes a medieval map. Here there be monsters, maybe, or at least very large beasts of unknown intentions. They stand between desire and fulfillment thereof. The blank space between that to be known and the actual knowing of it. Shipwrecks have a way of grabbing the imagination form an early age. The reality of seeing one in the world is very different than those seen in photographs. There is no filter or remove.

Waves roll. Pelicans rustle and flap. They seem a genial coven of witches, magistrates conferring in the square, as they dip and bob their heads while shuffling on the crossbar. What could be learned from such chatter? How to approach them at their party? If only we could know the witty banter of seabirds, perhaps we could join them at their leisure.

First, we must cross the water. Overcoming fear is the first step. Eventually we must dive into that which cannot be divined beforehand. There is no other way in this life. To connect is to invest, and treasures will not unearth themselves.

08 July 2018

Living the Life Histological: A Sunday Biji


Columba leaned back against the warmth of rough granite. Eyes closed, knobs of rock gently digging into his back, his sleepy mind wandered through a field of memory. It arrived empty handed.  It was nearly lost to history, the last time a visitor had trod the sand and slate before the keeper’s house. In his head the visit had become myth. So began another sere summer in servitude to the light.


Heat begets the melancholy. The turning of the seasons has undergone an inversion from the naive days of adolescence into the bittersweet twilights of adulthood. This has never been more apparent than upon being ambushed by three chords in a summer song that the heart would be happy to never hear again. It is not that the song itself is bad, by some measures, but wistfulness and regret ring hard on ears already full of the same.

The full experience of summer brings understanding of the winter. Your heart understands. It knows the singular jolt to the soul induced by spasming with chill while swathed in the swelter of humid sunlight. It seems impossible, illogical, but there it is. The trigger can be a song, a sound, a smell. Any stimuli, almost. What matters is how such things are woven into the soul. Peculiar combinations of memory and emotion combusting into an incandescent fount of reaction.


Sitcoms and soccer and a little sun and sand. The order reversed itself from what I thought it would be, to become what it was meant to be. We watched the games, critiqued the teams, and then laughed ourselves silly over sitcoms of which she had seen more than I. Of course, it is I who has seen more of life. It is not untrue to say I wish the situation was reversed.


No bones were broken during the fall. The same cannot be said of dignity. Dignity shattered like a glass Christmas ornament in the clutches of a deranged house cat. This sort of thing happens when attention lapses, or is allowed to lapse. Not surprising in this era of distractions, digital and otherwise. People convince themselves they can live without situational awareness, but that is the path to perdition. By our lack of care, we may find ourselves in Hell.

01 July 2018


Squeaky hinge clarion call of the gulls cutting through the syrup of a humid morning. A counterpoint of cicadas hums from the live oaks in the yard. A buzz of life just loud enough to be interesting but not overbearing. The susurrus of the ocean can just be made out over the whirr of traffic, ears leaning into the sound. The shore calls out, cajoling the legs into the short walk over to the waves.

With each step towards the water the body becomes lighter. Years slowly slip away, it feels like. More accurately the anxieties about the years begin to fade into the background, akin to the ghost crabs that skitter away from approaching footsteps to disappear into carefully constructed burrows. They will return. They always do. But for now they are out of view. It is the way of things.

What is eminently important in the moment is the water, its rush and burble of it over toes in the surf. This bracing jade coolness thrills the skin. It invites and entices the body to continue further into the sea. Waves curl in bearing with them their own exhortations to play. The body obeys, all the while under the influence of salt air and marine undulations.

Waves and the electricity of existence. Skin like solar panels absorbing the life of the sun. Rapid shuttling between the frigidarium of the sea and the caldarium of the air. The hands and arms break the crests while the feet revel in a comforting scratchiness of sand and pebbles on the ocean floor. Currents flow up and down, back and forth, through body and earth.

A seventh wave ripples the short horizon. The heart races, the belly flutters witnessing the power of Manannán mac Lir come to carry the body up the shore if not out to sea. Still, do not fret. Let it sweep you up. There are fewer things more affirming of life than taking a delicious tumble into saltwater and seashells, awakening into a maritime heart of gladness.

24 June 2018

Call You Home

The call is felt in the blood. A tidal surge in the veins that ghosts the heart with gravity. When least expected, the surge will lift the feet off the floor and leave the urge to be out the door. On the road to the water in all its nervous-making grandeur. The heart fears the swell, and needs it to survive. Dreams tell it so.

A maritime song perhaps first heard in the womb. Blood rushing, swirling through the cataract of the umbilical to percuss the nascent tympani of a budding creature. A glorious song shared between the mother and the child. It would be the child’s first experience of the rhythm of the tides as expressed in heartbeats and phases of the moon. It would be fifteen years or more until a day came when the youth stood on the shore, dumbfounded, without understanding why the sight and sound of the waves was bracingly new and shockingly ancient. He felt it without comprehension of the reasons.

It could be that this illumination was the young man’s first real glimpse at the Mystery of life. There could be no forgetting of that energy and electrification in this first experience of synchronization between the heart, blood, and consciousness. The youth could not know then just how similar the feeling would be when, years later, he made love for the first time. The congruency would be sweet and shocking.

But that was in the future. The shore was the Now. Of course, the Future is the Now at some point. This realization came home to roost years later, experiencing the same sensations in different circumstances. It reminded the man of comedian Brother Dave Gardner, heard decades ago on a vinyl record, who quipped that you can’t do the same thing again but “You can do something similar!” Brother Dave was referring to people who had a good time at gatherings, but the sentiment applied still. A beatnik comic channeling the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, as interpreted by a young man who woke up in middle age.

Today that man stood with his toes in the surf and fingertips wet from the sea. The taste of that water lay lightly on his tongue. It was the taste of something similar, a different river, but realized anew in the heart. It tasted like home.