In the wash of the sea, even the most ordinary and unlovely things will eventually acquire a smoothed elegance and a form of beauty. Bits of house brick and broken glass, unremarkable bits of rock are rubbed down, and while shining with sea water, have all the glory of a precious gem.
Life is very good at knocking the corners off people. Anything too delicate, is all too easily broken away. We are exposed to constant attrition, the grit of daily challenges, the perpetual banging together in disagreement, conflict and confusion. It depends a lot on what sort of person you are, of course. There seem to be people who grow in power and stature as a consequence of challenge, who work out how to knock things off others rather than let themselves be eroded. There are those who get bigger in this process. I expect for some life is nothing like being in the sea.
I am a seashore pebble. I’ve watched myself reduce ever since I’ve had a degree of self awareness. Ideas about what I might be, hopes, aspirations, aspects of self, wants, even things I once thought were needs, are rubbed down and wiped away by life’s sea. As a teen I could have told you what sort of person I was. In my twenties, I based my sense of identity on all the things I was doing. Now there isn’t much I do that gives me a sense of self. I can write you a plausible sounding biography, but that has more to do with the frequency at which writers need to cough up plausible autobiographies, and not to do with conviction around identity.
I have no idea who I am and no idea what I’m doing.
I watch the waves roll in, shifting the grit for a fresh round of abrasion. But perhaps, before life erases me entirely, there will be a time when I acquire something of the smooth grace of sea glass. At present, this is a comforting thought. Whether I have any means left to appreciate that when I get there, is a whole other question.
I know the loss of ego is frequently held up as a spiritual goal. I don’t know if this experience fits with that, if this counts as some kind of achievement. It does not feel like achievement, it feels like the rolling of the sea, and the smallness of being one tiny, irrelevant little pebble amongst billions of pebbles, all grinding down.
To be still, and silent, not moving for a while, not eroding for just a day or two. A little temporary peace would be a thing to aspire to, I think. Pebbles in the sea do not get to choose when or if they will be thrown up onto a beach and left there. I do not know if that is what I get, or whether some other kind of narrative is available.