Sunday, July 10, 2011

Been out of town

...on vacation with my kids, along with my parents, brother and sister-in-law.  Went to the beach.

So, we're there, and I'm watching throughout the week the inter-dependent relationship between the waves and the beach.  Where and how the waves break depends on the geometry of the shoreline - which is, in turn, shaped by where and how the waves break.  The system reaches a stable point after a period of time, but the stable point is dependent on outside inputs outside the realm of both: winds, deep-sea waves, tides, phase of the moon, etc.  When the outside forces change, the inputs change and the system changes until it finds it's stable point again. 

I say all that as backdrop.  The last night we were there I took a long walk down the beach by myself.  The two previous summers we took the same trip, but with my now ex-wife.  At some point in the week the two of us would always take a walk together down the beach.  This time I did it by myself, in the hopes of getting in touch a bit with how I feel about things.  I feel like I'm repressing my real feelings so very much.  I mean, I have yet to really, actually, cry about any of this. 

That last night was also when the winds and such changes and the beach started going through a pretty serious metamorphosis. 

So, I'm walking down the beach and I realize that, while this is certainly the same beach where I would walk with her, it also is not the same beach - because it changes daily. 

And I realized something about this and about me and about how I have to be to deal.  The waves and the wind are beyond the control of the sand - they come in from outside and the mess it up.  But it's still the same beach.  It adapts to its circumstances, it finds stability, it gives and reshapes itself - but it never stops being exactly what it is.  That piece of shoreline is never the same two days in a row, and yet always the same. 

I've got all kinds of external forces hammering me right now that are beyond my control.  I can go insane trying to stop them all and force myself into control - but that's all futile.  As futile as the sand trying to stop the breaking of the waves.  But I can bend to circumstances and be who I need to be - and I can do that without actually changing who I am.  I can be the same person, and yet change to deal with what I have to deal with. 

So, I didn't find my lost mourning for the ex.  But I did find out something that, I think, was pretty important.


  1. Nifty metaphor. . .

    Of course, that same process is always happening to us, no matter our circumstances. Adapting is how we're made to be. . .

    And of course, my inner math-geek really likes the mental imagery of periodically shifting 'stable points'. (You're as bad as I am; I used to sit by the rapids in the river that cut thru campus, thinking about fluid-dynamic equations as the water flowed around rocks in the streambed. . .)

    I remember growing up on Lake Huron; the beach itself didn't change all that much, but the dynamics of wind and waves meant that the sand bars would shift around almost daily; so one day, you could walk out 50 yards, and find knee-deep water, and the next day, it would be in a completely different place. There was a creek that emptied into the lake a quarter-mile or so from our house, and a couple times a summer, it would spontaneously carve a new channel for itself, across the sandy beach. Cool memories. . .

  2. Excellent metaphor; and isn't in interesting where and how each of us finds things out, about ourselves?

  3. I just want to say that Z is the seagull who poops on the beach. That is all.