Thursday, January 8, 2015

Life Force

Walking San Pedrito beach, I was thinking about the eternal nature of the ocean. The perpetual movement of the waves. Forward and back, forward and back.

And how, if you really pay attention, there's a pause in between. A sliver of silence, like the lull between breaths.

booby (credit)
But inevitably the wave is pulled down by gravity, sucked out, and returned. Just like our lungs, on their own accord, take and release the next breath.

I started to think about how I much I love this motion of life. The opposites, the polarities. In/out. Active/quiet. The waves of life.

A voice came into my head. Oh really? You love it ALL? Blossoming and withering? Life and death? You love that? It was as though an antagonistic TV pundit was jabbing his finger into my brain.

And what about Hitler? Love him?

I stopped and took a breath. Why does it always come down to that?

No, I don't love evil. Of course I don't.

The pundit smirked.

I've always felt the resistance in me when I sang along with the lines of the Byrds biblically-inspired song:

A time to kill, a time to heal...
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace

Those lyrics don't roll off the tongue as easily as:

A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together...

Instead of sprinting on the sand to escape my thoughts, I just let it all float in my mind. Killing, healing. Hitler...Viktor Frankl.

Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, believed there was meaning in all forms of existence. So is that what I mean by love? That bad things will happen but that, as Frankl says, we always have a choice about how to respond?

I thought about recent violence in the news. In the face of disaster--be it personal or global, be it human-made or borne from nature (like Baja's recent Hurricane Odile)--there's always an outpouring of creativity, solidarity and compassion.

I think that's what I love. But it's not a light love, a free-and-easy love. It's a mysterious love, a love of the messy bigger picture. It's a not-always-easy-to-maintain trust in the rhythms of life and the ultimate goodness, or maybe meaning, that we humans aspire to. It's a love of the enigmatic life force.

A few days ago, as I was walking on this very beach, a beautiful bird--a blue footed booby?--with pointy wings and beak sailed into my vision. It folded in its wings and feet then bee-lined into the water like a plunging knife. Seconds later, it lifted back into the air, a slash of silver writhing in its beak.

And then today as I walked the same beach in the almost exact same spot, a wave crashed at my feet. As it receded, I saw an uncanny thing. A silver, wriggling fish right at my toes. I picked up its slippery body and tossed it back into the water.

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