I was walking along the beach on my last motorcycle trip, picking up rocks and shells and looking at the things the ocean had left behind. I picked up a particularly beautiful light green stone that looked like it would be much more at home on a beach in the Mediterranean than the Pacific Northwest, and I wondered how far it might have traveled through the seas. I wondered what its journey had been like. Who knows how long this little stone had been swirling around in the deep, salty waters of the vast Pacific Ocean? Then suddenly one day – maybe even today – the ocean decided to drop this little green stone off on this particular beach.
I was standing there, thinking about my life, because that’s what you do at the ocean. I was coming up on 50 years, but the ocean makes 50 feel young.
Actually, it makes you feel timeless.
I walked for a long time, sometimes picking up treasures and sometimes just watching the waves crash the beach. Beach combing is a lot like prospecting. Each wave is like a giant sifting pan, dropping nuggets into the sand for dreamers like me to collect and cherish. You could stand in the same spot, watch hundreds of waves push / pull the water through the sand and find something different with every single wave.
Such is the power of the sea. The power of time and distance.
In the past year I’ve gotten divorced, moved to a new city, started a new job, published my second novel, traveled to Spain and bought a Harley. Sometimes I expect way too much from myself, and I don’t give myself enough credit for the enormous amount of change I’ve endured. The waves in my life have been tumultuous at times. They have often deposited things on my shores that I didn’t really want, but slowly I’ve begun to realize that I don’t have to pick up each one and put it in my pocket and carry it with me. I can choose to leave things on the shore, hoping that eventually another wave will bury them in the sands of time, or better yet – carry them back out to sea.
Time and distance do, in fact, wash away some of that which leaves its mark on our journey.
Being on a motorcycle helps me to see things differently. It creates for the rider a sense of being a part of the passing landscape, as opposed to being a spectator, looking at the world from behind glass and metal. Life is not a museum and we are not its patrons.
It’s a very vulnerable feeling at times, knowing you’re not protected by a metal frame and airbags and a seat belt. And yet, it is that very feeling that reminds me that I am free, that I am frail and that I am human. I feel that much more connected to the earth and towns I visit and the people I meet, as if I somehow leave a part of my essence as I ride through, open to what it has to offer in return. With every trip I come back changed. With every wave I drop some things back into the sand.
The journey continues…