Friday, March 18, 2011

Do Unto Others

I woke up this morning to learn that big wave surfer Sion Milosky had drowned up north at  Mavericks.

A couple of weeks ago I had an idea at the water's edge. Was the ocean like me? I thought. A mother who loves all her children, but nonetheless has her good days and her bad? Who has days when she feels generous and others when she doesn't want to be asked for one more thing?

That day I thought I'd start treating the ocean the way I'd like to be treated. Maybe a strange idea. Maybe not. But there it was - my own version of neoprene clad goddess worship. And since then I've been talking to the water the way I wish my family talked to me; what do you have to tell me today? what can I do to please you? how can  I thank you?

Today I arrived at the water's edge and found it colder than usual, rougher and deeper too. The white water kept coming,  and getting past the impact zone was a struggle. I tried to catch a wave and, for the first time, experienced being held down by successive waves. After getting knocked down a second time, I stepped back and started talking: do you not want me here today? should I get out? are you not in the mood?

She just boiled and boiled and I related it to my son wanting to nurse, or my husband wanting to have sex, when I've got other things on my mind, other things to do, and a whole world inside me they can't imagine. So I stepped back farther - like I wish they would on those kind of days. Because I know how I can snap when I don't want to be bothered.

I watched other surfers struggle where I had struggled. Get knocked down where I'd been knocked down. Finally I watched a lifeguard help drag lifeguard station 20 a couple of yards away from the water. With this storm coming and the current budget crisis, he told me, they can't afford to lose the station to a surge.

Today was definitely a day to respect your mother.

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