18 April 2011

This Life, In Mosaic

What is this life we ended up with, how did we get here?  Who dragged us into the van, blindfolded us, then drove all night only to kick us out the back door without stopping?  Holy hell, that hurt when the ground rushed up to meet us and the gravel of years dug into the skin, like the sandpaper of God.

Once when I was a boy I went to the beach, on the Atlantic Ocean, for a day of fun and frolic.  Then, as now, I liked the ocean but was always a bit unsettled by it.  Powerful waves, opaque water = low-grade anxiety.  Then, as now, anxiety didn't stop me from entering the surf.  Perhaps the unknown was the frisson that provided the vitality I felt.

But I digress.

Once when I was a boy, I went to the beach as I mentioned earlier.  I dove into the waves and was having a great time.  Then I made the mistake of turning my back on the ocean.  One moment, I was in water up to mid-thigh, the next it was gone. Puzzled, I wondered where all the water went, then turned my head to look back.  Bearing down on me was the biggest wave I had ever personally witnessed.  It slammed into me, painfully, right in the back.  I was knocked down, face first into the sea bottom, whereupon the force of the wave pushed me along causing my bottom jaw to act like a dredge.  My mouth quickly filled up with sand and bits of shells and seaweed.

Coughing and sputtering I was cast up on the beach.  Shaking the stars out of my eyes, I reached up to feel my face.  It was scraped and raw.  My lower lip bulged out like I had a lump of chaw in it.  Scraping the sand out of my mouth, I wondered what in the world had happened.

So years later, I'm sitting on a park bench enjoying the breeze and a day of clear cerulean down by my favorite local lake.  The apple o' my eye is resting on her haunches down by the water's edge.  She has a stick in her hand, scribbling hieroglyphics in the sand and pretending to fish.  She looks up and smiles, and a chunk of memory falls from the sky and I wonder:  What just happened?

This time I didn't come up sputtering and coughing, but I was dazed and confused.  Things tilted.  Life is very different for me these days.  Things have come apart, things have come together.  I see my daughter, I consider my new life living by myself, and I feel my hands sifting through the sand.  Shells, debris, smooth stones and jagged shards all come within my grasp.

Slowly, I am pulling pieces from the earth to reassemble the picture I know is there.  Definition, clarity, direction...this, the mosaic of a life coming together in the light of a fine sunny day and the presence of love.


  1. ummmmm... you took me in a totally different direction. I was expecting a post about overcoming your fear of water and instead, enjoyed how you are rearranging your life and see it as that. most people only see the negative outcome of a shift. i have a good friend who's life changed drastically about a year ago. loss of his mother, girlfriend, and job. he's writing and its fabulous. he's almost done with his book. but I digress.. time for me to write. have a wonderful day!

  2. Another lovely piece.
    I remember getting knocked down and spit out by the ocean as a kid. No fun. It taught me a big lesson in respect. :)

  3. What a fabulous analogy. I think that often: what just happened? how did I get here?

    I spend a lot of time frowning in confusion. The whole thing is designed to give us wrinkles...


  4. I have enormous respect for the ocean. I am thinking about a cruise south and am thinking much about how huge the ocean is, and how small my boat is.

  5. it's puzzling isn't it?
    love this, IG...puttin' it on the fridge :)

  6. That wave? i hit me too. Summer of '81. In my case, i left pieces of the skin of my back in those Mexican waters.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

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