I have a story for you. It’s a personal one, from my experiences over the summer. Maybe you can relate to it :)
“A white, middle-aged woman stands just where the sand turns to sea.
It is wet. Her footprints to this point are not a straight line or purposeful path, but it wasn’t impossible to predict she’d end up here. There is a meandering and the spaces between the steps are uneven. Some footprints are already filled with water and the sky sits in them.
She has rolled up her trousers. But not so far that you could see too much of her legs. She holds her shoes in one hand and thinks of a photo of her grandmother, as a young woman, on a similar beach in Wales. She – her grandmother - is walking away, parallel with the edge of the sea. But she – the granddaughter – has her sights set straight out to sea. She has circles in her eyes. She is intent on going against the tide.
Holding it back? Or walking straight under?
More of the same.
She pauses. A big pause of not-knowing. In that moment the circle of sea and the sky in the footprint are indistinguishable.
The battles she has fought – the ones she has won, and the ones she has lost - exhaust her. And she knows she has too little power to make any difference. And anyway, this talk of battles, of solutions, of hope, are they not just more of the same?
The cool sea air breathes at her. Strong, silent syllables across the water. She tips. She bows. Into a cloud mirroring across the surface. Is it falling?
Blurrying, weightless, no place. No skills for survival here. Out of her depth.
To her surprise, she finds she is breathing. Under the water.
Tiny, tiny fish bring her food.
Her hair grows long and her skin flaps in the tide. Like long flat fronds of seaweed that used to scare her. Her clothes go away.
She dissolves like a sugar cube.
Her lasting legacy a slight thickening of the water.
That feeds the shrimp
That feed a whole cascade of life
That feed the most beautiful sea bird ever to have lived.
The one seabird that when seen, powers such feelings of awe and devotion, healing wounds and generating so much love that notions of self / other seem ridiculous. We feel connected to everything: We hear the sap rising in the trees. We smell the cooling of the cloud as it passes over the sun. We see the interactions of the tiniest beasts in the soil. We feel the joy of the new born hare, and the taught twisting of the swifts.
And it – the most beautiful seabird ever to have lived - lives on until every human on the earth has seen it
“life before or after seeing the bird?” we ask. For nothing was really the same again.
Like all the footprint moments all at once…”