Everything happens for a reason? No, I don’t think so. I hope not. I am not a believer in fate to that extreme. It’s too controlling. If it were truth, I’d personally journey to dethrone those meddling Moirai and take back my life. I’d do it for others too.
Now destiny to me is a whole different matter. Even the word is more beautiful. While fate feels fortune-cookie prescribed, destiny feels like personal potential. Fate’s word origin is “that which has been spoken” whereas destiny’s is “to establish.” One makes me wish to defy and retaliate, though essentially, it would supposedly be futile to do so; at worst, it makes me want to give up, surrender. The other makes me want to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter the obstacles—in fact, obstacles become welcome and necessary—choosing the paths, to become all that I can be, all that my higher power wishes for me to discover about myself to bring me closer and closer to The Light.
Some things happen for a reason. I absolutely believe in this. That reason being loving, personal, divine intervention, when we are directly presented gifts, even (and perhaps more importantly) obstacles and uneasy feelings. It is these moments that I feel are crucial for our destinies. The choices. The free will.
Monday after work, I seized the day, to ride the wave of what was at the time the merging of a beautiful late afternoon with my good spirits; I headed for the coast (across the street but a 20-minute drive to the National Seashore parking area I opted for rather than the main beach). I just wanted to bank some credit on my emotional health, as this school year for me as a teacher has been the most challenging yet. Usually in my past, I would more likely seek out nature as my medicine upon feeling the first symptoms of mental unwellness, though my soul requires daily doses of the outdoors. I’ve had the photos I took that afternoon in my phone; no particular inspiration came from them during the week. Until now.
Monday again. A holiday. Yet something off within me. I get frustrated with that feeling because I feel I’ve put sooooo much work into my total healing that I deserve to never feel an uncomfortable feeling again. That’s absurd though, I know, and I would probably hate such a boring emotional predictability. I talked to my higher power aloud, as is natural for me. I retracted my request to take these disquieting feelings from me to “unless I am meant to feel them for a purpose because I need to, because you are trying to help me realize something.” I sat down on the couch with my morning coffee (deliberately avoiding my bed) and brought a notebook, as it seemed like a pen-to-paper doodling therapy session might be needed over the digital screen. It’s raining out; I usually love staying home as reader and writer on a rainy day, but for some reason, though I finished reading a novel, my muses for the first time in a couple of years were not around this week. Until now.
Some things happen for a reason.
The only WordPress post I found myself at, Listening to the Reed, was one from the same soul whose music moved me recently. After reading it and thanking her for the inspiration, my typing fingers remembered again how to dance. And what I saw in Monday’s photos became apparent. Funny how it all comes together in magical moments….
Even before the water comes into view, parking lot inspiration captures me as I snap a photo of a stranger, here too, to use her gifts, “alone” in nature. She is me, the poet, the photographer, using different media. She is the musician brushing notes, and although we all seem to speak a different language, our stories, our messages, are all too similar, invisibly thread us together, I am certain. Her silence, my silence, a silent symphony that runs through us both, all. Solitude is not without its benefits. May we become, again and again, blank and empty, for our higher power’s use of us as instruments, as lenses, as canvases. May we share with one another those masterpieces, the instruments being masterpieces themselves.
The sun is out still; I am thankful to get off work early enough to enjoy it. Sixty degrees on this February pre-evening. I came to this area for the adventure, though I’ve also come in the past for the solitude. I can see the shoreline through the trees; the hike doesn’t begin until I sink deeper into the sand. The view always seems like a long sought after oasis discovery, yet it is always simply before me, so easily accessible. It seems like cheating to start at Paradise.
The late afternoon rays highlight the remains of a tree. I’ve visited this one before, but the light upon and within is particularly captivating today. The way the tree stands so resolutely, still firmly rooted yet maimed, seems honorable, and I pause to add a moment of silence to the silence. To me, it is a veteran, not fallen but partially sacrificed. I am standing upon the barrier island that protects the mainland, in official wilderness, where the defenders too often are unseen and unappreciated.
The soft, beautiful light within draws me in further, not deeper but into the world of its complex interior, a secret cavern faithfully harbored, a portal hesitantly opened for the sincere, and I enter with reverence into its still and shallow waters.
Exposed, I see every feature, every fissure, every shadowed crevice, and the continued sacrifices. I am reminded of Silverstein’s Giving Tree, and it stills me to pay even more homage.
From inside the sacred sanctuary, the view of the sun seems so much more beautiful, and the Light so personally and tenderly loving. I recall the times, like a week from today, my private, protected, inner self has looked through such deeply-anchored panes.
I continue on my solo voyage, following the coastline that has changed, and I remember another hurricane has passed through since my last visit. The windblown tree that throws off the perpendicular order with its angle is the first testament that life inevitably alters us. Yet again, I focus on the roots, still buried, that interconnect with others, locking, intertwining, determined to protect, holding the sand itself together. I recall where I was when this happened, a bit inland, in an interior closet with my daughter and dog. I recall prayers to my higher power to turn the powerfully-increasing storm back to sea, not west or east but back, asking to protect us all, in every land. How relevant, yet even more symbolic, are the exposed roots of the great (still) Live Oak I happen upon next…
I bend down again to inspect the clues without altering the scene, a cracked log, split halfway down the center and not by the axe, reveals the hollow and part of the skeleton within, severed from the tree, no longer adrift, arrived and at rest at its burial place, but not even that is certain.
Instead of the expected crabs that usually endlessly entertain me here, I find never-encountered peculiar objects and remnants I have yet to identify. Some explorers are quick to Google their finds, but as curious as I am and as much of a lifelong learner as I hope to be, most of the time, I treasure more the mystery, the unexplained, my imagination, the childlike wonder. So much on this excursion is new this time, and I find a peculiar yet not very unsettling eeriness in the lack of both human life and wildlife found anywhere. I continue on, backward or forward in time, I cannot tell, but the present is nowhere about.
Not-quite-parallel lines, natural elements, hurricane relics, and human footprints all seem to travel in the same direction: along the shore, toward the light. The sound (aptly named) both contributes, discreetly takes away, and smooths again the slate of history. I leave my own temporary tracks, an intermingling legacy, but I sense if I turn around, I may catch Time itself sweeping the evidence away. After all, I am but a visitor in this past or future, and my present is patiently waiting for my return. I press on, though, just a bit more, farther and further away from the portal.
The sand itself becomes more and more buried beneath the new after-storm covering. The terrain, so foreign-feeling, draws my attention to my every step. Sooner than I wanted, I arrive at the infamous “where the beach ends.”
This was not the end before though; funny how endings can change. I want to be allowed to pass, to make it to the tree patch where the seabirds often nest. I pause at the obstacle I could surmount if I choose to, but I doubt the wildlife I am looking for is up there this time. It is neither doubt nor fear of the unknown though that propels my pivot but the satisfaction of this leg of my journey today, and my present is one that I am not trying to escape, unlike the pattern of my past.
In my return journey, as it grows late in the day, I do not light the torch but instead frame the flame between two seemingly scorched matchstick trees. Sometimes a shift in perspective can become a powerful thing. This non-desolate non-wasteland thrives with natural, resilient beauty. We are blessed to witness its offerings. In the absence of our existence, the surf would still play its music, the flower would still bloom, the bird would still sing, though I do believe they prefer to gift us those things. But the green.. the green would gleefully creep out from the earth and revel in its reclamation, stretch its vines and branches and burst forth new leaves and lift itself again to the heavens.
The clouds begin to rise up, themselves, from the sea, rising up to cradle Sun and gently lower it into the ripples, to extinguish the day’s light. Benevolent Moon will soon fill in so darkness never truly sets in, and stars will adorn the night, to collect our wishes and christen them in the magical moonlit tide.
I hear not the cry of Yeats’ falcon; I see not his sea beast. The only wild creature that crosses my path is the single, silent pelican, wings spread wide, as it soars like a promise of hope into the cloud-misted sunset.
I was called to the coast on a Monday,
though my core was perfectly intact.
On a rainy day inside me,
it restored my soul on the next.
Photographer’s note: the only thing I edited in these photos was lightening some of the shadows…
Related by Laura: My Mother is the Beach