I’m up before dawn and sneak out to the patio by the beach. I sit at a white plastic picnic table that will become a kite in a violent storm. Today it’s clear. I can see the outlines of the mountains across the bay. They are layered cutouts of translucent paper, grey, purple, blue. Every detail articulated.
The waves fall on the beach like a child tired from playing. The pleats and swells of the water roll past each other. It’s a cat crawling under tightly tucked sheets. The ocean breathes, a sleeping giant.
As the sun rises the mountains become less precise. Haze blurs their lines. The surf is angrier now. The tired child pounds his fists on the floor. There is no embarrassed parent to bribe or beg.
I can the hear the ocean from inside at night, and from the restaurant and from the little shop where we bought cafe, cinco bottles of cerveza, and huevos that we carried home in a plastic bag. When I wake up long before daybreak I come and sit on the deck and hear the ocean that I cannot see.
It constantly sends its waves to the shore, and then pulls them back. Push and pull, give and take, cast and reel. Does it ever get tired? Burned out? Where does the ocean go for vacation?
It is not work or living that depletes me. When I think and sweat and create, when I speak the truth, when I push my body on a hike, when I connect deeply with a friend, I am more alive. My body grows weary and my brain tired. But low tide is different from burn out.
It’s holding back that wears me out. It’s carefully measuring words, weighing them on the scale of acceptability. It’s picking through feelings to choose only the ones fit for public consumption that drains my life away. It’s being quiet when I want to shout, treading carefully when I want to plunge in.
The ocean doesn’t worry about what we think of it. It doesn’t care if its tides are too high or too low for us. It doesn’t silence its crashing so that we aren’t bothered by what it says. It expects us to accommodate its storms. It is a leviathan and not just the home for them.
The average adult woman is 55% water. We are half ocean.