Monday, December 8, 2014

Ocean. Story.

There is no telling how many times during the course of the day you get a vision of it, either directly before you, or some hint of a vision in the rear view mirror or side view mirrors of your car.  Any time your walking or driving takes you to the crest of an incline, chances are good that you'll be aware of it, off in the distance.

When you've been to the university during the daylight hours or when returning from some errand or meeting in the north end of the city, you're route will take you to the intersection of State and Constance, where you turn left, heading toward the Mission.  Constance dog-legs onto the northern extremity of Garden where, at a few of the four-way stops, you're pointed southwest, and there it is, calling for your attention, reminding you, look,  there it is.

True enough, it is in the upper reaches of your vision, but you can often get a hint of its color, which changes during the day because of the movement of the sun and the presence of clouds , overcast,or lack thereof.  Accelerating down Garden Street, still able to see it until you come to Pedregosa, you repeat the question you've asked for the forty years you've lived here.  

You add other places you've lived where you get a daily glimpse of the ocean, Santa Monica, and of course that other ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, seen as a matter of course when you lived in Miami Beach.

Why, you ask yourself, would you wish to live anywhere you couldn't see the ocean on some kind of regular basis, whether you were actually at the beach or land's end or from a vista point on some regular route such as the winding run down from Alameda Padre Serra to Milpas Street on the  curves of De la Guerra Street?  Why?  You ask yourself  because you are of an age where people ask themselves such questions.  You ask yourself why because of the nature of the human condition to fear the potential for removal from a place of comfort, familiarity, and certainty.

You also ask yourself why because you were born in a city with much in common to Santa Barbara, including a closeness to the ocean and, thus, a beach culture, as well as  heights, dips, valleys, and sections of street layout that almost suggest the original civil engineers were often not sober.  You ask yourself why because of the times in your life where you could often go for weeks or even months without seeing something as large, vibrant, and aggressive in its personality as the Pacific Ocean..  

You ask yourself why you would ever want to live away from the ocean because of the irrational fear from that aspect of your personality you recognize as irrational and negative, that you might have to live away from the ocean.

Thus the ocean means freedom to you, freedom to walk the beach, should you chose, or watch it from a distance, or simply acknowledge it those hundreds of times you drove the coast route to Los Angeles, watching the ocean change as you drove past it, yourself changing in the process.

When you think of such things and the colors and energy you see in your glimpses of the ocean, you realize you've done a better job of understanding how the ocean works than the dry land works.  You've had a lifetime of being close.  Your mother often told you of how, as an infant, you were wheeled in a pram up and down the upper park on the palisades.  

The ocean was there before you were even aware of such things and so in reality you grew up in the act of becoming aware of it. No wonder there is some early fear of losing it, of being taken from it by forces over which you have little control.

There is yet another thing you see on the warp and weft of your days, sometimes as much in the distance or way up on the horizon as the ocean, sometimes in the jade green or gunmetal gray of the ocean, sometimes merely a shimmering presence, wanting your attention, wanting you to come closer, to approach, to walk along its shore line.

This is the presence of story, not by any means as formidable and roiling or as serene an entity as ocean, nevertheless a presence that beckons you closer.  "Here,"  it says, "listen.  I have things to tell you."

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