Life is easy, isn’t it, when it is sunny and the beach you walk along — have walked along for years — is soft underfoot with an endless stretch of golden sand. Roaring Beach was like that just over a week ago.
What happens, though, when the storms of life ravage your home and, where once was sand, is nothing now but stones that hurt underfoot? Roaring Beach is like this now. After several days of a relentless 25 foot swell, where once was sand is a kilometer long stone beach.
Like the spider who daily mends her web, how do you, I or anyone mend our wounds and continue to love despite losing everything; continue to wake up with a smile on our faces despite the losses.
I went down twice in as many days to survey the damage, the devastation and destruction done to the dunes and foreshore. Hard to fathom the forces behind what had happened.
But hold on.
Let me change the way I’m writing about this event. Instead of labeling it damaging and destructive, I should prefer to see it as simply a powerful display of nature that changed the face of Roaring Beach from what it was into something entirely different. Remain emotive, certainly, but replace fear of change with trusting beauty to be found and upheld, always.
I can view this like the prisoners who, when put into solitary confinement at the Port Arthur Penal Colony went insane, or, instead, like Buddhist monks who, when entering solitary confinement come out enlightened.
I write this because our human species is, without doubt, moving into a period of great change and for us to remain equanimous without giving into fear and despair will require an emotional intelligence capable of buoying us during this transition.
How shall we love when we are losing everything? is a question that needs serious consideration. Indeed, how will we manage to maintain an open heart that remains honest to the perils of our world yet finds joy, beauty and a plenitude of moments to cherish on a daily basis?
Walking along Roaring Beach now is rather exciting in its massive transformation. So many things to explore with all kinds of discoveries to be made: big boulders strewn around as though dropped in by helicopter, buried ancient mudstone ochre of several colours revealed for the first time in who knows how many years or centuries, the sandstone cliffs at the western end of the beach carved into new formations, the dolerite cliffs on the Windgrove side fractured as though with dynamite. Gosh, these and more. So much more.
The dynamics of nature are surely beyond imaging. The thrill of this investigation has given me happiness.
And the sound. I have to tell you about the sound: that most wonderful sound of stones clanging against each other as waves wash over them all along the length of this now very long stone beach. It reminds me of what I wrote several years ago when a much smaller section of the beach made such a sound.
I stopped and listened to the stones the other morning. There’s a section of beach where tidal currents and wave action have washed away the sand exposing a pile of rounded stones about the size of grapefruit. These aren’t spread out level, but incline to the deteriorating top edge of a sand dune. Normally, in my early morning run I would skirt this section, running a bit below it; moving gingerly yet quickly to the other side where the beach once again becomes flat and sandy.
However, during a higher king tide, a chance wave hit just as I was in the middle, carrying itself right to the top and causing me to scamper upward to keep my sneakers dry. When the wave rolled in it had the sound of most waves as they break foaming on the shore. But when it returned as a smooth backwash it rolled and knocked together all the stones beneath it. Such a wondrous sound. In squatted rapture I waited for several more of the larger waves to repeat this Balinese like clacking of instruments.
“Peal me again, again, again”, I heard the stones repeatedly ask of the water.
It was timeless this sound, as though the beach stones and waves had been rehearsing together for centuries. For a moment the necklace shape of the beach became Earth’s rosary and the beads were pressed just once for me. In that moment, I felt holy.