Steadily going insane…or not.

How can a house be so quiet? It’s not just that there is no one else here to make noise, it’s like the house absorbs any sound I make. Days here alone and I wonder if I’ve lost my hearing entirely, but for the relentless ticking of the clock. A countdown to madness.

I search for reasons to get out, places to go. Yesterday I decided to take my crappy little netbook to a coffeeshop to work there. The sounds of coffee being prepared, conversations held by others, anything to avoid the ticking silence.

The air was misting, heavy enough that most people would have called it rain. And suddenly I didn’t want to be in the coffeeshop, I needed to be outside. I wanted to walk by the sea, see her rolling ocean breakers smashing into the helplessly stubborn shore.

So I turned back to home, switched the computer for the camera and the mp3 player, and started walking.

Ice plant along the way

Ice plant along the way

The air was like that moment you turn off the shower, water coating you but no tangible falling. It felt good, but the mood, the music, the prospects for everything were not. Grey steps on grey pavement under a grey sky beside grey waves, the future…grey.

I’d tried to work on my writing project that morning, and after an hour it hit me: it sucks. The first few pages…if I picked up a book like that, I would put it back down unread. Why would anyone read my scribbling when there are so many better books out there? The competition unnerved me. No point in trying.

I kept walking, sweatshirt slowly soaking through. Passersby passing by, apparently not seeing me. Did I even exist anymore? Shoes squelching, eyelids dripping, vision clenched in wet eyelashes.

Steamer's Lane (on another day)

Steamer’s Lane (on another day)

I got to the end of the road, where it turns to lose its memory of oceanic greatness in the mundane ambling of city streets. That’s the famous Steamer’s Lane in Santa Cruz, California, where the surfers do their thing.

And there was a competition going.

The waves were speckled with a surfer horde doing their best to distinguish themselves for the judges, but indistinguishable in their uniform black wetsuits, the judges hidden in a black tarp booth so no one knew if they were paying attention anyway.

And there in front of me, just off the edge, a sea otter floated on its back, eating a sea urchin, totally uncaring of the surfing competition going on around him.

I laughed out loud.

Dedication on one of the benches

Dedication on one of the benches

And I realized that I can be that otter. I can lie back in the sea’s embrace and enjoy my fucking sea urchin thank you very much, without a care in the world for the competition around me. It’s not my competition, my life is other than that.

I laughed again. The damp clothing was the only weight on my shoulders.

Not waiting for shuffle to lend a hand I chose some upbeat music, potent rhythm, and returned home, steps coming quick and powerful. So maybe someday I’ll tell this blog that I finished my book. Maybe not. Sea otter don’t give a shit, the world is good.