Tidepooling is a practice in patient observation. It's also a reminder that some things happen in their own sweet time. That's the thing about low tide. Sun, moon and earth turn through the steps of their celestial dance, and once in a while you get lucky and the three of them meet just right in a moment of revelation. You have to be ready. I'm often humbled to realize how oblivious I can be to the wonders of the natural world all around me. And what treasures might yet be hiding right in front of me, in plain sight. After all, there are so many different ways to hide.
It's a quiet, foggy morning here in Seattle, and I'm thinking about ontology — the philosophical study of the nature of existence. There is something deeply dissatisfying about a choice between reductionism and hierarchy, for both seem to me equally wrong. Although in naturalistic philosophy hierarchy no longer needs the divine sanction of a god to justify it, the supremacy of human culture and human consciousness remains unchallenged, the assumed pinnacle of evolution, with the masses of quarks, quasars, oak trees and elephants relegated to the same old mindlessness of mere objects, only so much stuff. But rather than go into any more detailed analysis of these dense and sometimes unwieldy philosophies, instead I want to talk a little bit about fog...
First, I knew the sea. The dark waters and the deep. That seeping, salty body that sloshes crest to trough and back again, ebb and flow in a dance with the moon. We carry an ocean in our blood, blue or purple beneath our skin, and only sometimes flushed pink or deeper red. The sea, like the past, seeps into the hidden depths within us where it works its erosion through memory and dream. Ancestors trickle through our fingers like water, each one of the beloved dead like a raindrop that enters the river that runs to join its source again. You can feel it sometimes, just as you are drifting off to sleep — that spinning, floating, rocking — as though the present were only a tiny raft upon a great heaving sea of time. And then there is the sky. The bright air, the heights that hold the stars and sun like mighty pillars, fluted columns circling to make a temple to the gods.
Our first morning, I walked down to the beach and sat for an hour watching the dark clouds, heavy with unspent thunder and rain, wash out to sea and the thin horizon. Sun spilled through here and there, shivering in bright rippling pools on the surface of the rough, green water. Waves overturned unbroken seashells at my feet. Seabirds wheeled and cackled, and I had no words appropriate for prayer, no songs that came to mind but the sappy love themes of old movies — which I sang beneath my breath, sighing only a little when stars may collide slipped into the breeze as a pelican threw itself into the breaking waves with a splash and all of it seemed to me, for a moment, to be celestial and stardust, Spirit pouring Spirit into Spirit, and surfacing from Spirit with Spirit in its beak.