high tide line

Wrong Shoes and Wrack Lines

I wore the wrong shoes for a walk on the beach yesterday. Loose, low-top, canvas. Perfect for sand spillage and saltwater seepage.

But the beach was empty and we wandered across it. There’s always the gravitational pull of the ocean, of course, but the surface packed firm by the pounding waves also makes for a firm path to walk.

Mindful of the play of wind-whipped froth, we measured our distance to the shoreline.

This liminal space always provides so much to observe. Constant creation and movement. Destruction and rebuilding. Patterning and cleaning the slate.

The wind rolled the masses of bubbles into balls of foam and then skidded them across the sand to nothingness.

The salt water splayed out on the sand stiffened into sheets of lace overlay.

As I watched all this, my feet suddenly fell upon solid ground. A rippled strip of wrack felt firm underneath. Steps easier to take, path more sure. I experimented as I followed the serpentine line where the sea left its mark. It didn’t always prove my hypothesis, depending on how much extra sand and bits of sea grass or driftwood were pushed up along with the water. But given the choice between shifting deeps that threatened to overflow the upper lip of my shoe or absorbent sand that would suck me down in, the twisting line of possibility seemed the way forward.

And as does any calm, quiet time in nature, a fully formed realization pushed its way to the front of my consciousness.

It’s always been about balance.

That elusive, ever-shifting sprite, flitting just beyond the fingertips of our most focused days.

For years, I’ve complained about balance. I’ve mocked gurus in their long-flowing robes and elasticized outfits. On more than one occasion, I’ve muttered, fucking balance. But we hate that which we most need, what we are most like.

In the great irony of the universe, I’ve finally come back to what I’ve known from the beginning.

It’s all about balance.

Shooting a straight a line down the seashore isn’t optimal for sure footing because the terrain changes. Based on the moveable sands on the left and the perpetually mobile sea on the right, the way forward turns and twists. The up and down, in and out of the wrack line is the perfect balance of dry, fine sand that slips through fingers and wet, moldable sand that suctions around whatever is placed in it. Of course, there may be plastic tangled up in seaweed on that line. But there might also be the iridescent sheen of mussel shell shimmering in the sunlight.

So, yes, I should wear proper footwear for the journey, but on-going adaptation and give-and-take are givens. And whether I acknowledge it or fight against it, the ebb and flow of the ocean is always a stronger force than I. Better to work with the ebb and flow of life than stubbornly stumble a straight line.


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