Thursday, December 6, 2012

43 Degrees

I knew it would happen. . . it was just a matter of time.

Sun broke for the first time in four or five days. First thing in the morning and just weeks away from the shortest day of the year, the sun now rises and sets well within view of our windows.  It lit the eastern horizon, cascading over the coast range and filling the inland end of the bay with warm winter light.

43 degrees the thermometer read but with no wind in sight, we headed for the beach.

As we walked down the short trail from the jetty parking lot to the beach, the huge skyscape in front of us opened up. Voluminous clouds filled the sky, some tinged with the gold light of the sunrise and some, already, white against the brightening blue.

Most of the year, if one gets here early enough, you can have the beach to yourself.  Perhaps passing one or two others who may be occupants of the RV park at the jetty or a few locals who, like us, look forward to having this curving piece of the pacific all to ourselves. . . or almost.

Especially when it is rainy or cold. Even with the sunlit morning skies, i did not expect ot encounter anyone else walking today.

However, just ahead we saw an old man walking the beach with his dog. a Cairn terrier. The man, with a driftwood stick in one hand serving as a walking stick, edged along near the water, gazing out across the rolling waves. His little terrier, darting around his feet and stopping to look out at the waves, though I suspect with a less enthusiastic, shorter perspective eye. 

Once the dog noticed us his tail went up and he began to circle the old man a bit. His excitement increased as I made what I consider one of the many universal dog gestures for "come here".  He accepted this invitation and his excitement built as his short legs carried him up the beach to greet us.

I knelt down to accept his welcome and he skittered about all around us, allowing just a moment or two of petting before turning and returning to his master. It was enough time to see that he was an older dog, the years showing in the little ways they do on our ageless friends.  Ad we saw that had been dressed in a hand knitted blue and white "sweater" that ran from tail to neck. We laughed at this and commented on it as we continued our walk.

We watched the dog a moment more, waved to the old man as well, and turned to go on.

t one point I turned to look back and saw them both, man and dog, far now in the distance.  So small against this vast backdrop of sea and sky.

And it hit me.

I felt more curiosity, about a random human being, than I have in some time.

I wanted to know if the woman who had knitted that dog sweater was home awaiting their return or if the man came here to the beach alone because she had passed.  Perhaps he came here, where they once walked together, to feel her near.

I wondered what HE thought as he watched the endless cycles of waves as he has through all of his years.  I wondered if he felt peace and contentment with his life. I wondered if he felt he had done and been all that he was meant to in life.  If he was living in the place he most wanted to live.

I wondered if he had any regrets.
Or anything yet undone.

I felt all of this curiosity that life in a city, the previous 10 years, seemed to drain from my soul. Owning a coffeehouse, people are always willing to share their stories, their joys and sorrows and I have always been one who prefers to listen rather than talk about myself. It was a perfect fit. . . but the heaviness of city life, as it careens and spirals and rockets out of control in recent years,  as people struggle and awaken to more and more unfulfilled dreams, can really wear one down.

There, it is the greatness and the loneliness of any one person caught in such a contrived and stifling landscape. It is overwhelming.

I knew that the solitude we have embraced here the last year would allow my heart to open up again to that beautiful, endless wonder.  To the curiosity about one person that I know, in so many ways, is so intrinsically tied to myself.

It is a mirror.
A view into my own mortality

And here, I feel the greatness and the loneliness of one person in such a natural and timeless world.  It is inspiring.
As the tears welled up, I saw myself as whole again.
I felt the joy I've found being exactly where I know I belong
Doing exactly what I believe I am meant to do.
When people say "Oh, you're an artist?"
I say, "Well, no, I just make things"
And I tell stories with them
As I always have

Such is the wonder of accepting space and silence
Of embracing alone-ness and fragility
And the endless beauty of all that we may be, every day.

It 's all there
In one morning
In one moment of awareness
In a sky illuminated with the sun's rising
In 43 degrees


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