It happened in August. I knew better than to wade into the water, but I’m compulsive that way.
The water seemed calm enough, barely a ripple on its surface. Maybe it was the shattered sunlight, winking and blinking like a thousand sequins, that drew me farther in. My feet followed the slope of the earth until I stood in chest-high water.
That’s when I saw the wave out on the horizon. I always think it is a small wave brought by some unseen current, a wave that will wash over me gently, but not pull me under.
So, I stood there and waited.
I should have known, and if I’m honest, I did know, but I have a chronic case of optimism that affects my vision. I’m so nearsighted that I cannot recognize reality until it’s right in front of me.
When it was too late to turn back, I saw what lay beneath that wave: the great whale. And it swallowed me, as it has done year after year.
For four and a half months I traversed the ocean in the belly of that whale, my old companion. Then last week, he spit me out, worn and wasted, my eyes unused to the light. For two days I lay on the beach, asking myself if I would return to the beach or move inland.
Next time it will be different, I tell myself. Teaching will not swallow me whole; I will teach and have a life. Sitting by the fire here on the shore, watching the small waves roll in, I believe that.
Next time it will be different. In January I will return to the shore, believing, always believing.
I am called to the sea. I cannot stay away.
Photos: Seashore Whale
14 thoughts on “It happened in August”
You cannot resist what you enjoy! There is some reward you get from that belly or you would not be there. Good luck.
Thanks, Kate. I feel like I’m starting to recuperate.
Ah, how wonderful it is… that sometimes life is so intensive that there is no room for anything else but an occasional sigh of anguish or joy. And especially for those of us who love our work. There are all those things that we wanted to do, and missed. But still… there is an enchantment within the dance.
Our choices in life are much more narrow than we would like, yet choose we must. Then we have to put our time and energy into it.
From the sea we came and to the sea we shall return.
Until that day when there is nothing more to learn..
“For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea” e e cummings
Very nice post.
Thanks for the lovely words from e.e. cummings, Bills.
I’m presuming this means you will be posting more? OK, I’m hoping that’s what it means. You are one clever woman/writer.
I have a short break – back to school on January 2, although classes don’t start till the January 13. I hope I can post more, but I’ll have to wait and see how the classes go.
Into the belly of the whale you must go, because although you already know how the tale will end, you are compelled to let your toes touch the sand, and feel the ripple of the water as it washes away your memory. So beautifully told, and even though we miss you when you are away, we are always delighted when you wash ashore again, and “the sunlight is shattered with your winking and blinking like a thousand sequins” in the light.
I kind of want to curl up in that one sentence, and stay for a good, long while. Shattered sunlight. A perfectly idiomatic way to describe how it feels to read your words. They sparkle and dance in the light, and have a way of making me feel so filled up with happy. Just seeing your name pop up in my email notifications is a bit like peeling back the paper on an unexpected gift.
Merry Christmas to you, and the best of everything to you and yours in the New Year. In the belly of the whale, and all.
You have a great gift of encouragement, NT99. And you certainly have a way with words. I always love your comments.
Best wishes for the coming new year.
I’ve been on the receiving end of many an encouraging word in my time, and if I have words at my disposal, the very least I can do is try to use them to express how I feel, especially when it comes to communicating with dear friends. Your name showing up in my email is always such a treat, and brings a smile to my face, and even though we both have tales of sorrow that can be told, I love it that we also have found a way to share tales of joy, and with you especially, laughter.
You have a unique twist on finding and exposing the humor in such a delicious way. Whether you are sharing a poignant truth, or a ticklish pun, or a full-blown comical twist on some situation or another, your words are magical, and delightful, and generous.
I was lucky to find your blog, no two ways about it. I was lucky to cross paths with you, and when I stop and give it too much thought, it fills me with wonder. How many times in our lives are we given an opportunity to be filled with wonder? Not so many. How lucky am I?