For a moment, my mind wanders. The chill is gone while I turn my thoughts to things above, but my skin won’t let me forget the ocean breeze, and my feet up to my shins can’t decide if they’re numb or still cold. It’s good though, I want to be embraced by salty air and rid of any thought not brought in the wind.
When I last checked, I was once again on the coast. But here, when I forget to remember, I’m caught in a heaven, amid the realization that this Earth is temporal in textbooks but in practice it couldn’t be farther from it. Somewhere in between, like a body with a spirit or a spirit with a body, in both worlds at once. Twelve years of school doesn’t teach much about this; however many years of university often tries to crush it.
Along the Fraser, up the valley, the canyon, and an assortment of streams, the salmon migrate. It’s a reminder that I forget to remember that getting by sometimes gets in the way of living, and actually living is more important than life. The salmon cycle of life has them return to the ocean — it’s instinct. It’s instinct for me too, but society’s a harsh editor of DNA. Only kilometres away from the Fraser, hidden behind concrete, wood, and brick, I, like everyone I know, lost their instinct years ago, and now forget to remember to take textbook breaks.
From my vantage of insight, I watch people in constant conflict with themselves. Life gets in the way of living, we say. When you’re thinking about eight things at once, but you’re really only able to think about two, the mind spasms, and a vague sense of, “I’ve forgotten something important” becomes an installation.
Drowning is an awful feeling. When the wave chooses to consume you, there’s not much you can do other than tumble and pray. Then, when you surface and you take a breath before heading back under, you get to appreciate how your mind’s attempt to keep you thinking you’re in control is how you get through most of life.
It’s like a conflict for the sake of itself. It doesn’t need to be there. Why not replace it with peace?
The challenges of life, whatever they may be, will eventually kill you. Why do you fight the current? To surf another day? Make it home to tell somebody you love them? Because toiling against the tumult is all you know?
The adrenaline wave you’ve been riding will eventually break. Sometimes you can ride a hungry comber out without getting eaten. But if you pick up too much velocity, your laminar flow gets turbulent. That’s when you eat dirt, and spend the next month dusting yourself off — if you can get up. I think there’s a better way.
Not that I’m an expert, but I find peace by listening. I find meaning by responding.
I fear the ocean because I don’t really know it, but I know what it does for me. I’d say it’s important to wander into the water, stand still for a moment or two, and thank God you’re still breathing. Find that stillness before it finds you.
In the much more concise and far wiser words of poet George MacDonald: “Certainly work is not always required … There is such a thing as a sacred idleness.”