I took a break this morning, went down to the beach, stood on a tall rock, tried not to fall. Did yoga. The sun bounced off the cliff face, throwing rays into the late afternoon, while my girls pretended to be mermaids, singing and chirping and complaining about sister things. I listened to the birdcall and the sound of the waves licking the rocks. I tried to visualize the sturgeon and striped bass that forage under the water and mud for shrimp and crab. It smelled of healthy brine, of life.
I tried to stop time and examine my place in it. I looked at my life on a timeline, plotted the steps and missteps, thought about all the paths which will diverge in all the yellow woods of all our futures. I thought about what is at the core. What matters. Love. Empathy. Justice. Understanding. I did not fall, but I allowed for that option. I was happy not to fall; the rocks did not look inviting. They were green and slick, but sharp enough that they would have changed me.
I watched sandpipers skip off the tops of the breakers: heard the gulls cry their lost-love sea-songs, screeched laments and horrors. I focused on my breathing and pulled the warm air deep into my lungs; felt my heart beat, sending blood through my veins. When I felt like I was focused on nothing as much as one can be focused on nothing, I asked myself what had happened this week. What mattered. I thought about y’all. My wife. Kids. My friends. My family back east. I thought about the stories my students are writing. It seemed right. Maybe it is right. I thanked the beach, and I will return to it.