A couple of days ago, I stood on shore, so close to the edge of the land that all I could see were powerful incoming waves and beyond them, in the great distance, more placid waters extending to the far reaches of my horizon. The endless sight of water and the immense sound of surf held me spellbound. There was no fishy odor to bring me back to myself, just the smell of clean ocean air. The usual jumble of words and thoughts in my head were stilled. I was stilled. All that existed at that moment were the ocean and my awareness of this non-human force.
We are so used to seeing things in human terms that we forget how almost inconsequential we are to the world’s existence. The ocean was here eons before the first biped left an ephemeral footstep on the sand, and long after our cities have been deconstructed by nature and the elements reclaimed by the earth, the tides will still exert their power.
Eventually my restless spirit exerted its own power, and I continued my walk on land’s end, but the magic of that moment when I was an ocean stayed with me.
Yesterday I walked through a dune forest, accompanied by the distant sound of the surf, like blood rushing through my ears. Tsunami warning signs reminded me of the power of the nearby ocean, but that calm summer day held no danger. I was the only human creature in the woods, though dragonflies, birds, and a deer shared their space with me. I stopped to eat a few wild blackberries and caught a glimpse of a snowy egret in a hidden pond beyond the brambles.
It wasn’t until I returned to civilization that I realized what I am doing and why adventure pulls at me. I am feeding my soul.
When my life mate/soul mate died, his goneness left a vast emptiness in me, so vast that it could encompass the whole world. So that is what I am doing — encompassing the world.
Someday, perhaps, I will be filled. Someday I might lose the ability to absorb my surroundings. Someday I might lose the ability or stamina to walk much, might even lose the desire for adventure, but whatever worldness and other-beingness I have poured into my self will always be with me, whether I consciously remember or not.
(Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.”)