Saturday, October 10, 2009


Sitting at the impressive dining room table, enjoying my breakfast, I could not put my finger on what it was that felt so good. There was the cross breeze that played catch with itself from one screen slider to another and the harmonious banter of sisters who have known each other too long. But also, in the background of a crisp bite of apple was the sound of sea hitting shore.

Up close, it's a violent sound. Nature's drumbeat hits hard upon soft sand, relentlessly letting us know we are too small for this world. Build what you will, it will not stand in the wake of these ancient tides.

But from my vantage point, a half mile away, eating my apple, I am comforted by the sounds of currents bigger than me.

A few years ago I was at my lowest so I turned to a good friend and told him, "I am not ok." And he said, "Let's grab a six pack and go for a ride."

I let him drive and we wound up atop a tightly winding section of road that ran along the Delaware River, featured in many a BMW commercial. We got out of the car and set down our beer on a precarious piece of a precipice before dangling our feet over the barrier that separated us from the steep stony cliffs of a crazy river bluff to watch the sun start its beatific descent.

"You know," I said, "Not many people would bring someone as suicidal as I am to the top of a mountain with booze. Just saying."

He shrugged like he wasn't worried at all and started to explain how many years of river it took to create a gorge so deep. I listened and tried to imagine how long it would take for a single drop of water to cut through a mountain.

Nothing in my life seemed so hard. Grave can't compete with gravity.

And so I continue to be humbled by the big things that make me feel so small. I finished my apple, put my plate in the dishwasher and stepped out on the deck and cocked my ear to the ocean.

I asked it big questions and got no answers. But still, tonight, I hear that steady crashing, telling me I am small, asking me to be bigger.

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