Writing Out Loud

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And the sea does not change…


I realized not long ago that the words in the title, which were sung by Stevie Nicks many years ago now, still apply and always have really. The sea DOESN’T change, at least not in our human understanding and perception of change. Yes, it changes daily, hourly, and every second in places we can’t see from the shore. Some forms of life die while others are just starting out. The ocean floor shifts due to pressure from the earth’s core, and everything that sea water contains evolves constantly. And the oceans themselves continue to be redesigned by meteorological and seismic forces since they were formed. From one great body of water to what we know now, it has never stopped changing.

To us, however, it is always the same. Aside from the tides going in and out, a process that affects everything the water touches in its calmness or its ferocity, we look out, despite the season, over the same vast expanse of water that we did yesterday, the day before that, and that we will tomorrow. It is that eternal quality of the sea that is its appeal…that it’s there always…never going away…never completely evaporating into the atmosphere and leaving us high and dry in many more ways than merely visually.

For there is, and has always been among humans, a deep connection with the ocean. It is, after all, where all life has emanated from, and it still flows through us in a very tangible way. Because of its perseverance, it has also become a symbol of strength and grandeur which often moves us in deeply emotional ways. “Going to the beach” just scratches the surface, for reams and reams of poetry and other literature have been penned in honor to those shifting blue-green waves and the energy they produce and store.

I can visit a beach, any beach, at any time of year, and its basic components are not much different from what they were six months ago. Here, in the northeastern United States, where we are privileged to experience the four distinct seasons, the sea is the only medium that remains fluid and mobile all the year round. And I can be standing on a shore that is backed up with several feet of snow, yet I’d never know it gazing out over the water. For it, as always, remains the same…rising, falling, advancing, receding, ebbing, flowing, lapping or crashing…whether it be winter, spring, summer, or fall.

The sea does not change…which gives us here in coastal New England a visual respite from the doldrums of winter. For we can head down to the beach any time of day and, hopefully, watch the sun playing with the waves, a scene that never fails to erase anything else that might be going on inside our tired minds.







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Mica Ice


For the last few days, I’ve been watching the ice as it starts to build on the pond. At first, it was a thin shim of a coating along the shorelines. Then, almost overnight, it took up over half the surface, creating a clearly cut contrast between moving and still water. At this point in time, it assumes a quality that is not unlike the bits of mica I find on the ground when I’m out walking. And it’s not unreasonable to imagine, based on that, a vast piece of the stuff serving as a lid for the water still alive and restless beneath it. From a distance, it appears that the boundary created by the ice’s edge is arbitrary and fixed. But that’s not the case at all, as the open water continues to lap at that jagged edge, reshaping it as the air warms and cools, warms and cools.

In some spots, the shards of ice protrude upward like tiny icebergs, while elsewhere, they join horizontally to form a flat smooth metallic strip that resembles galvanized steel. This catches what sunlight there is and sends it off in all directions, glinting here and there from the rough-cut gems of undedicated ice shards that have not yet been shaped by sun’s heat or settled into a permanent form or pattern. This went on all day until night fell, dropping its curtain on this final act between me and the stage it was all playing out on.

The tension between the two forms that water takes on a pond mirrors that which exists inside the mind of anyone whose mission it is to take raw materials and shape them into something beautiful and lasting. As malleable as these raw materials are, nature always succeeds in achieving some sort of end, regardless of the fact that it, too, is subject to reinterpretation. Writing is a lot like that…taking one group of words that seems to have achieved a solidified state and putting them up against the lapping waves of those that don’t know quite yet just where they’re going or what form they will ultimately take.

The pond is once again liquid today, mirroring the point I am also at as I try to thaw an old story just enough to let it flow along with a new one.