Beginning again…

A beginning doesn’t always happen first. Sometimes it’s a response. Sometimes its what comes next. What follows after. An exertion of forces interacting, equal and opposed. An action or reaction, when something gets pushed or moved. Sometimes it’s an opening in the thick of an unfolding. A moment in the throes of something culminating. Something coming to a close. “[T]here’s always an ending after the ending”, Chuck Palahniuk says, and there’s usually a beginning before you start.

On New Year’s Eve I’m standing on the beach with my son, waiting to see fireworks. Waiting to see the new year spark. I’ve never lacked for resolution. I only need resolve. It’s humid with just enough of a chill to merit a jacket. But then again, any temperature just short of hellfire in Florida means we dress for cold.

The dense fog of the air is punctuated only by the flicker of cellphones, bonfires, and silhouettes. The moon is in a secondary phase and waxing. Just over nine days old and intermittently cloud-obscured. In the low-light there is no horizon. No visible point where the ocean meets the sky. Two ominous extensions of the same material. An indistinguishability between here and someplace wholly other. A single seamless entity. The same mystery. The same uncertainty. Water, mist, and loneliness. Vapor, connection, and atmosphere.

I’m only half-conscious. Half-empty. Half-listening, when my son says “It’s kind of incredible isn’t it? There’s so much of it we still haven’t explored. So much of it we haven’t seen. So much we still don’t know. Places we still can’t get to. Places we aren’t equipped to go. Our bodies can’t handle the pressure. We haven’t built anything that can hold the ocean’s weight.” Maybe we won’t ever. But, maybe someday we will.

In his voice, there’s a mixture of wonder and resignation, possibility and restraint, that I’m not sure I’m present enough to appreciate. Everything feels like an item on a to-do list. I’m always anxious to move on to the next thing. So easily lost in the white-cap noise that washes across me and recedes. The chatter that laps at the sand and solidity of everything I haven’t gotten done. Everything that still needs to be. Tonight, I’m tired and I’m just trying to put a line through this evening.

Bernard Cooper says that “Now is a tenuous tightrope between history-future and history-past”, and I am rarely balanced enough to walk across it. But, the shortest distance isn’t always the most meaningful, and sometimes it isn’t even a line. Sometimes its something far more circuitous. A series of arcs and spirals. Clumsy movements finding purchase. The tide goes out and comes back in. Action and iteration; a discipline, a practice, a craft, a skill. The ritual grace of repetition; beginning where it ends and beginning again.

For an instant I get a glimpse of the fuzzy edges. The ten quintillion particles per every cubic centimeter in the air we breathe. How even the bounds of our galaxy are indistinct. This planetes. This wanderer. This marble suspended in something fluxing and changing forms. Rhythms and repeats. This orb held a loft some place directionless. No above. No below. No over. No beneath. Every movement leads to here. Every motion is return.  Ascension and descension. Arrival and recurrence. Nothing created. Nothing destroyed. Nothing missing. Nothing broken. Nothing mended. Nothing different. Nothing changed. Nothing the same.

We watch a year of water cycles culminate with pyrotechnics at midnight; precipitation, condensation, evaporation, and transpiration, breathing out and breathing in. Flashes of incandescence and transformation. Another full rotation. An orbit round the weight of all the things we’ve left undone and some holes we’ll never fill. Step back far enough and you realize that “No decision you ever make will have a significant impact on the universe,” Moira McTier says. Everything is inconsequential from a grand enough scale. You can laugh at just about anything, eventually. 

Sometimes its a matter of intention or expectation. Sometimes its a moment of recognition and release. Sometimes beginning is decisive.  Sometimes its a gift we’re given. One we may, or may not be ready to receive. Sometimes its when you have enough awareness to notice that there’s nowhere you need to get to, that there’s really nothing that needs to be accomplished, that there’s no other-shore that needs to be reached. The beginning, the middle, the ending, the conclusion and the start. Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh; I Am that I Am, You Are that You Are.

Collage cut-out poem that reads: A beginning is an opening in the throes of a moment The same mystery. The same uncertainty. A connection and a spark.

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