Then there are the days, the weeks, that we are just surviving, just barely living through our problems or the world’s, the ones where we wake up in the morning already tired and go do the things that mark the days because those are the next things to do. And we smile by lifting the corners of our mouths, and face the darknesses in ourselves and others with eyes squinted to dim their harsh edges a slight bit more.
But amidst these times, let there be days where we go out, where we seek out things we haven’t known before, (or things we have), and may they be surprising and astonishing, so that we know that they can still be there. Days where we can taste the air and focus on the sky. And on those days when we have gotten used to squinting, filtering, and turning away, may there still be light.
And when we feel especially heavy and earth bound, let there be birds, from the heavy pelicans to the tiny white sandpipers, and may they flutter and swoop past us when we are unwitting, may they shock us a little when we are looking at something as mundane as our feet or something as beautiful as the small people next to us; these people and these birds all with their own small soaring lives, us all with our own beautiful spaces.
But beyond the soaring and the sky and the hard facts of our spaces, let there be places where the mystery always begins, the places just out of sight. Let there always be places where we could go, and things that we could do; so let there be horizons. Flat, and as blue as the sky, broken only by a sailboat or two, balancing that dark line that we can barely see. Times when we watch and wonder for just a split second if they will tumble down over that thin black line and if there is something on the other side to catch them.
Let there be things to catch us in the hard places where we fall. Like uncontrollable giggles and small broken shells that are treated like jewels by small boys, and brought to me like love offerings. The simple, fractured sparkles of sunlight on thin water where our eyes catch, the salty droplets on long eyelashes, the silver flash of a fish scooped out of the water by a pelican.
Let there be abundance, enough to throw back, too much too use, like the thousandth broken shell brought to me by my boys, when I start to worry there will not be quite enough left for the beaches, and know there are far too many for our car. Like the curving silver schools of fish that continue flashing through the water after one of them has been caught, like the waves that have traveled the entire Gulf of Mexico to come and break themselves gently at our feet, but always, forever another one following their pieces to the shore.
On the days when it feels like we are alone, let there be footsteps of people who have gone before us, on slow walks down this long beach, some side by side, some splashy in the incoming waves, some heavy, through the damp sand that has been weighted down by water. Some like the little pattering of three toed birds, all ten ounces of their weight balancing on just a few sparkling grains of sand.
And on the days when we can’t see past whatever our darknesses may be, let there be hope. The kind of eternal hope that those with metal detectors bring down to the beaches with them, the ones who always believe there is something valuable just out of sight, something that will change their lives that is merely a few centimeters down.
And when there is emptiness and drought and exhaustion, let there be water and each other and the sky. Clear and blue and smiling, bouncing off the sand and shining on the tops of waves, dripping off of little noses, stretching out and over the horizon to tomorrow and it’s hope.
“I’m not interested in blind optimism, but I’m very interested in optimism that is hard-won, that takes on darkness and then says, ‘This is not enough.’”