Thursday, December 22, 2005

Ocean Part II

Many years ago, somewhere way off the coast of northern California, a sizable earthquake occurred. At the time "officials" predicted that this would result in tsunami crashing into the coast of San Francisco. On the day of the tsunami's expected arrival, a reported two-thousand people waited on the beach to witness the event. I remember thinking "only in San Francisco." The wave never came.

I think about this everytime I pass along the coast and see people standing and staring out at the ocean, at seemingly nothing. Sometimes there are surfers sitting on boards staring back, but most of the time it's just people staring out at the undulating ocean.

I stopped once, because I was curious. So many people lined the shore near a road-side parking lot, in groups, and alone. I thought something must be happening. When I came up behind them and looked past, I expected to see something, a dead beached whale, an accident, an argument, but I saw nothing but the beach, the surf, the ocean. I looked around at the faces of the people gathered, and saw them expressionless, and gazing far out beyond the beach, beyond the surf. I was disappointed.

I looked back out at the horizon, still and straight and long, the water a mixture of blues and grays and white. The ocean heaved like a breathing chest, the waves washed ashore, an exhale from a deep sleep. Gulls floated past caught on drafts, their calls lifting away with them.

I watched nothing in particular, but everything all at once. A voice from behind me, over my shoulder, asked "what's going on?" "Not a thing" I answered, and turned and left.