All tired out from errands and appointments, I drove in silence, thinking about the minutiae of the day. I let my car find its own way. With very little guidance, she rolled placidly to the sea and parked neatly parallel to the shoreline fence, facing south. I turned the key off, set the brake, sat back.
I sighed, unbuckled my seatbelt, sagged in the seat, turned to have a look around. I didn't pay attention to anything much. I sat like that for many minutes.
A man ran by, preoccupied with the burdensome task of monitoring his running effort. He appeared to my right and disappeared to my left as I looked west beyond the split-rail fence. Immediately, he was gone and I instantly forgot him.
I witnessed hundreds of dozens more waves and the remnants of waves hitting waves, but it was as if they were seen by someone else. I didn't have enough energy or the inclination to notice much at first; I'd seen it before hundreds of times. Waves, ocean, more waves, and more waves.
A couple walked past, appearing on the right and then gone on the left, not talking, walking in lockstep, their feet crunching in synchrony, like a metronome.
I shifted my gaze to the roadway, away from the shifting currents and waves. My car's readings told me that it was 6 PM, the air 60 degrees. Each runner going by was monitoring their pace or the number of miles they had run, tenths of miles to go. Cyclists checked their odometers and knew their gear inches, their cadence, the force of the headwind, the watts they were producing as they pedaled. Engineers driving by in their work trucks looked at the road ahead, the density of the asphalt, the composition of the cement, the grade percentage of the hills. It was a 2 to 4 percent slope; the road had 5 degree cambered corners and 8 to 10 inches of falloff to the unpaved shoulder. The sun was going to set at 7:17 PM and the high tide had just peaked at 5:59 PM. The moon was due to rise at 7:47 PM, an hour and 47 minutes later, precisely.
I looked back to the sea, and I thought about the immeasurable waves, watched them roll to shore in regiments, one after another. They were lined up for miles out to sea, without end. It would be madness to count them and evaluate their worth by the tonnage of water, number of droplets in each spraying crest, or decibels of sound produced by each square meter of water hitting each ton of rock.
I smiled. There it was, as always: Nature in its boldest and most immeasurable and uncontrollable form: The sea.
My mind had made a transition from the restless confinement and servitude of daily life to boundless wonder and fascination. The movement and play of light on the endlessly varying surface of the enormous ocean acted like a powerful medicine and taken away my stress and fatigue. I was refreshed and invigorated again.
At the edge of the ocean, for all time, there is a symphony of light, movement and sound made by waves, intersections of waves, ripples, wavelets, splashes, bubbles, rivulets, currents, countercurrents, rip tides, foam and spray.
Thank God, the ocean is boundless and embodies complexity, size and dimensions that root us to the ground to stand gape-mouthed and awed. What is there to measure there? Your happiness? Your respect and admiration? Its beauty?
So, after playing slave to my calendar, my watch and my pocketbook, there I was sitting in my car -- thanking her for having the good sense to ferry me there -- and let the roar and thunder of the ocean drown out the impulse of my mind to quantify what I saw: Infinity.
Causes Christine Bottaro Supports
The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks, The United Way