The tide comes in, and the tide goes out. As a child, I remember my grandmother’s toenails, yellow from smoking, buried in the sand of the beach as she faced the ocean. I distinctly remember turning peach pits over in my mouth, trying to get every morsel out. My sisters and I would tunnel at the base of the dunes trying to dig deep enough. I have no idea how deep ‘deep enough’ was. As a child, I remember the singular desire to dig. We didn’t have an endgame in sight, only the action.
I’ve been thinking a lot about endings lately. I want to ‘get it over with already’ in regards to many things in my life. I used to adore the in-between times, now I chide them to hurry themselves. Bus rides, the time it took to fall asleep, showers – they were all clumped together as glorious ‘Moments of Transit’ – moments to reflect and consider. I saw them as veins of gold in an otherwise dull rock face. These were moments to breathe. In those times, I could do nothing more than let the waves of ritual, of habit, carry me along.
Now, I have no desire and no nostalgia for these moments of transit. These moments are now cesspools in which my memories grow stagnant. Any time I am alone with my thoughts is another chance for fear, worry, and regret to come creeping in. If I go digging, it is to find and then to discard.
Now, the transitions are not cross-fades, they are sharp cuts. Wake up. Clean kitchen. Check e-mail. Check phone. Walk dog. Tell them you love them. Run errands. Take your pills. My life has become a list, and I am desperate to check off that elusive last item. Projects arrive and either complete themselves in a timely fashion or are discarded. So, check, check, check…
And then what? Death?
We have seen that the universe is not concerned with the end game, yet we as humans rarely think of anything else. We humans have created the very idea of The End, and then formed the idea of infinity to absolve our own end. The honest truth is, there is no end to begin with. We just can’t fathom a world in which ‘Done’ or ‘Goodbye’ or even ‘Until…’ are not in our vocabulary. Death is not a door closing; it is a tide going out. The tide will come back in to gather us and carry us out to the great blue sea regardless of whether we believe it, whether we love it or hate it, and whether we say we are ready or not.
I’m trying to get back to when I loved the process with a childlike one-mindedness: Now you are digging. Just dig. Now you are eating. Just eat. Now you are sleeping. Just sleep. I wasn’t in my life for a neat little narrative conclusion; I was in it for the beautiful storytelling. I wasn’t waiting. I wasn’t planning, or drawing conclusions, or even reading into a situation. I was just letting the tide come in, and go out.
I know I would give anything now to go back and tell the child on the beach to stop digging and just sit with the grandparents that she would lose to time. But the child on that beach was happy. I have to look after the child I am now, and find happiness on my own beach. The tide comes in, and the tide goes out. I am trying to come and go with it.