It occurred to me earlier that we often allow our own selves and lives to be shaped – like coastlines – by the regular impact of the the waves around us. Left to our own devices, our own plans, plots, maps, we were “going to be” x, y, or z. We were “going to do” a, b and maybe even c.

As a child, I drew out a plan for my life ahead.  It stretched out away from my body, up and cross the A4 page, my life all written out ahead by little-old me. The next school, the exams, perhaps college or university. At that stage (X marks the spot) I would become a writer, by that one (Y?) be married with children, over there I would travel, and there I would rest. I think I only got as far as the age of 40 – anything further was, I think, too dauntingly unimaginable, so I gave up and shut the notebook.

The interesting thing is that it was the same notebook in which I had copied part of my family tree, going back to the mid C19th, faithfully writing down the faceless names of generation upon generation of pavier (pavement layers, turning rough paths into civilised routes: hard, back-breaking work) and their wives and children. Just as I saw the tree working backwards, I saw my own branches (of action, not progeny) going forwards.

So why is this posting about waves, and not branches? It’s both, I suppose. For me then, the life as yet unlived, the plans, the map, was solid, determined and branchlike. By contrast, the reality of life is fluid and reactive.  Is there really anyone who has not been fundamentally – in their character, their personality, their actions – affected by the people around them? Who has not held off a course of action because of how it would impact on loved ones? Or been afraid to progress a plan because AN Other did something similar so recently and to such acclaim?

But this is good; this is listening.

We are both waves, having constant impact, and coasts, accreting and being eroded accordingly. Standing at the edge, in the liminal space of ebb and flow between sea and land, we can see the process happening up close and we can take an opportunity to look again at what we thought we knew.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Advertisements