T. has come down with the flu.
Trouper takes me to a fairly remote area quite far from where we are living. He stays back as I walk the long beach.
No one is around; no tables with umbrellas and someone serving coconut juice, a straw stuck into the shell; no one to roast cheese skewered on a stick. Just the vast, empty sand stretching for miles, and the ocean’s relentless pounding.
I watch, mesmerized, as the waves come in; I could watch them for hours. Their action, their beauty, replaces thought — puts in its place something else, some yearning, without effort, to grasp this material world, in its supreme forcefulness and power. It has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with me. It created us.
It’s not that I feel humble, or anything of the sort. I’m not even sure I have a sense of awe. It’s like watching something godlike from a safe distance, wondering how it is that I can possibly be safe.
And yet it also has a correlative in me, something I know and almost understand. I distract myself by judging which wave will come and cover my feet, or come up to my knees, or perhaps pull me down and out. As the monumental volumes of water advance towards shore, there’s a kind of stillness above the turmoil of the grey blue ocean — and then the waves break. But it’s like one wave, stretching for a mile, breaking in one piece that curls and rolls with such release of power.
It’s the forcefulness of it, the strength that could tear me to pieces, that could rip my arms off and shred my skin. The wave rolls and rolls towards me, and I am perched on its lips, almost in its mouth, watching, waiting, and it spills itself forward and dissipates and spreads on the sand, and withdraws, to be hit by another coming at its back.
There’s some fingering in all of this of my place on Hardy Island, so far away in British Columbia; but how calm the ocean is there.
Mainly, I am looking out. When I look down, I see a brown bottle being tossed on shore, and then it’s pulled back to drowning. I watch its movement. I lean forward, and I get it.
It looks like a large medicine bottle, with a metal cap. It’s empty; there’s no message. How is it that, wherever it came from, it came to me, unbroken and undamaged?
I walk along the shore, carrying the bottle, amused at this blatant offering in the midst of my bewildered thoughts.
About 300 feet further on, bouncing in the foam boiled up by the waves, is something round. I do the same as with the bottle: I wait, watch the thing go out – is it a jelly fish? – watch it come back to me – I pick it up. It’s a lightbulb. A lightbulb has been tossed up by this crushing forbidding ocean whose time depth is the beginning of the world. Its being, its presence, the way it works and looks, has not changed since then. The next land mass I would find, if I could follow my gaze, would be Africa. The water which touches me, touches Africa, unhindered. The ocean offers, unbroken, a lightbulb at my feet, delivered by, or from, this force which is so great and grand, yet responsive enough to answer to the pull of the moon. This pulverizing element, which changes rock into minute grains of sand, holds up a lightbulb and delivers it at my feet.
There is some joke here. I don’t get it, but it seems to be a divine joke.
I’m returning home with a medicine bottle and a lightbulb, and wondering what this waking dream is all about.