Yesterday at just about this time, I was sitting on the beach in Monterey, California. I'd found a nice "bench" of sand from which to survey the Pacific and, honestly, I only intended to bid farewell to an ocean which had overwhelmed me with its beauty and power in ways I had not expected. I'm an East Coast girl -- to me, ocean means the grey Atlantic, which one approaches via miles and miles of flat, farmland and freshwater marsh. It means the Boardwalk downeyohshun, saltwater taffy, suntan lotion, and seagulls fighting for scraps. The Pacific took my preconceptions about oceans and turned them inside out -- instead of grey, it was the bluest blue. Instead of marshland, mountains are its gateway. Instead of the tackiness of Ocean City, MD, it breathed solitude and natural splendor. I loved it. I loved me being there. I achieved an important childhood dream on this trip and one adult dream. Ever since I was a little girl, I had wanted to go whale watching -- ever since reading Nightbirds on Nantucket. And I did do that -- I saw a humpback mother and calf (though I missed the calf breaching because I didn't want to get pitched overboard in the rough sea so was holding on tight to the railing in the wrong part of the boat) and the three killer whales which paced our boat and showed their dolphin-like natures by arcing through the water like arrows. My adult dream was to celebrate ten years of marriage to a wonderful man who loves me with all his heart, soul, mind, and body. And I did that too. It was a wonderful trip.
So, why, on my last morning there, as I was bidding farewell to the blue Pacific and watching the fog roll away from the coastline, did I find myself fighting tears as I composed an impromptu prayer? Looking at the Pacific, I rocked as I sang, "Rejuvenate me, rejuvenate me, rejuvenate me, rejuvenate me. O Lord my God, oh please help me. O give me courage, o give me strength. Rejuvenate me, and please bring me to be the person as you want me. Rejuvenate me, rejuvenate me, rejuvenate me, O please help me. To say no to myself. To say yes to myself. O please help me to choose wisely. Rejuvenate me, oh come to me. Amen."
As I have gotten older and have gained more understanding of myself and the condition which I've imposed upon myself, I am trying to be kinder to myself and more loving towards the fragility of my own life. Ever since Susan died, I've been thinking about the sheer sadness of death -- the loss of the light of this wonderful woman and all she had to offer to her family and friends and to the world at large. Every once in a while, it pops into my own head that I'm closer to the end of my road than to the beginning, and I feel very tender towards myself. I think that I'm a pretty cool person and I have a lot of interesting things going on in my mind, my heart, and my soul. And I'm sorry that I won't be in this life forever. And, at the same time, it occurs to me that I'm wasting time. Wasting time hating my body. Wasting time being tired and sore and in pain. Wasting time being overwhelmed by things. Wasting time being out of control. And that makes me feel very tender towards myself too.
Hence the prayer, which I will sing every morning, perched on my bench of dirty laundry, regarding the ebb and flow of my family life.