Thursday, November 8, 2012
My beginning was just a continuation, a new twig caught in a whirlpool. The whirlpool was my family. My presence in it didn't change anything, didn't slow down the maniacal, swirling waters. Maybe it sped them up a little. Some would claim that it did.
The whirlpool became a waterspout -- a small pillar of water wreaking private havoc in a private lake. Most people who observed it pretended they hadn't. Some mistook it for a specter or a miracle. Eventually it decayed and those who had been swept up in it drifted apart.
My true beginning happened when I left the East coast for California. I chose the sensual golden hills, the manzanita, the madrone, the live oaks, the creeping fogs, the appalling vastness of the Pacific Ocean. I married, settled down and soon created my own whirlpool into which my daughter was born. Eventually she broke free, swimming off on her own.
For much of our lives, I think, we are captives of a circular momentum -- a senseless chaotic repetition of actions (our own and other people's) we aren't quite strong enough to escape.
The beginning is when we finally break free of the whirlpools and the waterspouts, when we experience that wonderful sensation of swimming alone toward a chosen destination.
I am (as you can see) quite fond of metaphors and so my metaphor for this sense of breaking free is taken from last summer's visit to the coast of Maine. There I plunged, quite on impulse and fully clothed, into the chilly waters of Grimes Cove and swam, buoyed by ocean swells, toward the float (at high tide, a good distance from the shore) that had been there ever since my childhood. I pulled myself up onto the float and lay on my back. I was breathless, tingly and euphoric.
I was an old woman beginning anew.