I wasn’t sure where to post this, on wordpress or on my tumblr. My tumblr is more personal and usually reserved for “deeper” thoughts like these, but I feel like this particular post is more fitted for a blog about travel and movement and exploration of the world and everything in it. Plus, my current location – Norfolk, VA – and the fact that I spent this evening on the beach makes me feel far, far from home. Ironically, though, my soundtrack for the night? “The Planets Bend Between Us” by Snow Patrol – a song after which I named and created my tumblr. I guess the two halves of my life are colliding, and perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing.
I stood on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean tonight. I felt like I was standing in between two worlds – the bright lights of the boardwalk behind me, and the inky black sky and mysterious ocean in front. I can’t talk about the ocean without sounding tragically cliche, so bear with me. I was caught in the middle, standing on the white sandy dividing line of a strange juxtaposition between artificial and real, between humanity and something scary, foreign, and heartwrenchingly beautiful. Maybe it’s no surprise that I immediately felt a parallel to my own life. The path I’ve been on lately has been a strange one, where the future is murky and dark, but the past feels fake and naively happy – artificial, like I was riding around and around a brightly-lit ferris wheel and marveling at the lights off in the distance, but never actually going towards them. Funny that one was circling around behind me as I stood there. My future is unclear, and many paths are obvious – follow the bright line of military ships or straddle the sand, walking in between the future and the past until I’m ready to choose. What was it that pocahontas said? Choose the obvious, calm river path….but what’s around the riverbend? I guess bodies of water do tend to remind us of the direction our lives take – always flowing, always going somewhere. You couldn’t stop the current even if you wanted to, and sometimes it’s easy to just follow it along. Oddly enough, though, the most appealing part of the ocean to me was the darkest, most unclear, most distant area. Maybe I was just caught up in a metaphor, but the idea of swimming against the current, into a scarily unclear ocean, sounded strangely familiar to a path I’ve considered lately. It’s the darkest and the most unclear, and full of sharks and box jellyfish just waiting to snap me up. Well, jellyfish don’t snap…but you get the idea. I guess it was a reminder that you can’t trust the ocean – there are so many things in it that could hurt you. For someone who’s deathly afraid of water, this rings all too true. Somehow, though, standing on a white sandy beach underneath a midnight black sky and watching waves lap and crash onto the shoreline…it was a reminder that there are things bigger than myself, things worth fighting for, things worth swimming out into the middle of the ocean in the middle of the night just to taste and feel and try. Maybe it’s time I dive right in, reach out with a shaking hand to see if I find solid ground. I’m shaking as I type this, overwhelmed with the consideration that I might really take a risk for the first time in a long time. I’ve been playing it safe for awhile, and my feet are sore and sandy, my eyes are tired, and the neon lights are proving to just be too much. I could go back, and perhaps eventually I will. For now, though, I think a midnight swim westward in the Atlantic is just what I need.
I will race you to the waterside
And from the edge of Ireland shout out loud
So they could hear it in America
It’s all for you.