The heavy, slate-gray sky is wet and low, pregnant with rain. The water rushes with suicidal abandon at the moist sandy beach, the frothy foam-fringed waves casting like doily-draped seals onto the minuscule particles of silica. They are opaque against the crisp snap of the winter air as they explode into shards that roll and scatter up toward the land before collapsing in on themselves to retreat, regroup and surge the shore again, breaching upon the land in an unending dance made more dramatic by the gloom.
I watch the sunlight dying behind the sodden blanket of overcast that stretches to the horizon and beyond, feeling the sting of the mist on my face and the tears pressed from my eyes by the steady wind. It is never fully aggressive and yet unyielding, tossing my hair away from my face as I stare at the growing, gathering storm. I feel the pressure against the fullness of my body, pushing against me, a constant drag away, back, inland. The fading light retreats to dimness slowly enough for me to garner my thoughts and try to marshal my self control.
This is the last day of 2007. It's a time for many to take survey of what they've done, achieved, gained, lost, how they've grown, changed, regressed, stagnated. It's a time of taking stock, of inventorying things, personally and relationally, and a time for assessment. In that vein, I am no different than anyone else. At this time of year, starting around my birthday, I generally begin to look at my life with a critical eye and see what was done right, what wasn't; what needs to change and what I'd like to change.
So much. So little. Not enough. Too much. Abundance, want, plenty, need. A constant, spinning dance that never seems fully in step, in rhythm, in concert. There is hope. There is despair. There is longing, there is joy. There is laughter, ever tempered by the stream of tears. There is the constant questioning, wondering, pondering. Prayer and action, paralysis and frenzy, faith and worry and weakness and strength. So much. So little. Not enough. Too much.
There is change. There is stagnation. There is wonder, there is bewilderment. There is elation, there is sorrow. Friends lost, friends gained, life cut short and life anew. There is so much agony, so much ecstasy, so much to embrace and so much to reject, to eject, discard, amputate.
The wind gusts harder for a moment, trying to stagger me back, making me shift my weight on my legs to steady myself in the growing, impending darkness. I hear and feel the waves rise and fall, crashing and dashing against the shoreline again and again, rumbling in their frustration. The wearing will constantly nick away, chip away, erode away at the shoreline. The sound is so beautiful, like the most exquisite music, its major lifts and minor falls harmonizing in the rhythmic pulse of the sea. Eventually the shore is breached, a bit of it lost forever to the constant, relentless, inexorable sea, gnashing and clawing gently and persistently.
So much to do. So little time. So much languishing, so little rejuvenating. Aging, shrinking, the world growing dim. Faculties lost; memories forgotten, retreating into the recesses of the unknown. How much longer? How many more grains of sand, like this beach, left in the hourglass? I can feel the significance through my feet, my legs, thrumming through my body like the heartbeat that is fading in me. Each drumming tattoo taking me closer to the edge, farther from the beginning. The road is long and treacherous. We've no guide, no map, no navigator, no sextant, no stars. Only the clouds, swirling and threatening overhead, low but out of reach, ominous and beyond attack or retaliation. Mockingly near, tauntingly heavy, looming, beyond grasp and without mercy or malice.
I smell the salt air sharply, tipping my head to fill my lungs with the air, full of the sea. I hear the wind riffling through my ears, blotting out every other sound. My eyes drift closed, my mind emptied by the rush of the sinister storm filling my very being with the ocean it carries.
The end of the year. The end of things. I feel the mist on my face again, knowing something is there, in the dark, hurling the sea at me in tiny, invisible droplets that will try to leave me sopping and dripping. When the rain comes at last, my tears will be lost forever in it.
The storm is growing. The year is dying. The light is receding.