Keeps flowing like a river (on and on)
To the sea, to the sea
Till it's gone forever
–Alan Parsons Project, Time
I thought about when I was 12 years old. I remembered imagining then what my life would be like when I turned 35, in the year 2000. I was full of anxious hope back then. Where would I live? Would I be married? Have a family? Would I be healthy? Would I be happy? What kind of work would I do? Would I be successful? Would I be a writer?
Back then, 35 felt so far away. Goodness, 13 felt so far away. Time is funny and fluid that way, and it eventually brought me to the sea, literally. And every day, my mental tides then wash away the remains of my experiences, leaving a few foamy bits sparkling in the sun. I pick through them sometimes, hold them in my hand and reminisce.
When I eventually hit 35 in 2000, I don't remember imagining what life would be like when I would turn 55 in 2020. At that point in my life, I lived in Santa Cruz, was with my now wife, Amy. I had already been married once, but with no children, and kids were light years away with Amy (eight years to be precise). I was fairly healthy back then, but would become even healthier two years later after I quit smoking (although years later I'd have another health scare). I still struggled with my blue genes then, too. I wasn't exactly professionally successful either, but I was a writer and was happy.
No, in the year 2000 I never imagined that 20 years later we'd be raising a family in a global pandemic, another global recession (the first two were already on their way), chronic homelessness, global unrest due to systemic racial injustice and social inequity, and a world filled with uncertainty, shame and hate. I also never imagined our family, along with millions of other families and individuals, would be part of affecting positive change in communities around the world.
Time is always now again, its fluidity a constant. Suddenly I'm 55 and all of the above is here, today. But a moment later I'm swept away from mindfulness, and I briefly imagine what life will be like when I'm 75, in the year 2040. Where will our daughters live? Will they be married? Have their own families? Will they be healthy? Will we be healthy? Will we all be happy? Will I still be writing? Will the world be a better place?
My mental tides wash away those questions and it's now again. All I really know today is that I'm grateful for our daughters. I'm grateful for my wife. I'm grateful for my life. I'm grateful for my family and friends. I'm grateful for my community. I'm grateful for your impact on me, and my impact on you.
I'm also grateful each week to spend time on the beach in Natural Bridges State Park near where we live. We've been going there for years and we've taken our girls there since there were both babies. Whether it's walking with Amy and our dog Jenny to Natural Bridges and back again, boogie boarding in the ocean with our daughters, or doing my weekly beach workout by myself (usually listening to my favorite band Rush), Natural Bridges is a sacred place to me. It's about a mile from the beach where I met Amy (another sacred place), and only a quarter mile from where we were married. There's something about the one remaining Natural Bridge, the beach and the sea -- this place where I ask for God's grace and wisdom.
Tides will always come and go, and although my time will disappear into the sea someday, this is where I'll be forever, awash in love and hope.
"We still feel that relation
When the water takes us home
In the flying spray of the ocean
The water takes you home..."
–Rush, High Water
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