I like this photo. Not just because I took it and Instagram-ified it like a true hipster pro, but I like the way the pillars of the pier arch continuously one after the other like neverending doorways. Doorways which, from what I can see, lead the wanderer deeper and deeper into the ocean. Into the unknown; into the abyss.
We’ve all grown up with the door imagery when questioning our circumstances in life. “When one door closes, another opens.” “Every wall is a door.” “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
What they don’t tell you is that while in the endless search for the unlocked doors, you keep walking down the hallway – which is how I see these pier pillars; a long corridor. Likewise, we continue to walk on through life, not waiting or wasting time trying to pick locks on doors that simply won’t budge. In short – life keeps moving, regardless of what we do.
Underneath the pier, my aquatic hallway is continuous, taking me so deep into its waters that I am submerged into places or circumstances that I never knew existed.
On my last day of spring break some weeks ago, I decided to go for a stroll along the beach during what was probably the week’s worst weather.
But my reasons for my spontaneous sunless stroll went beyond the need to get out of the house that cold Easter day.
A year ago on that same day, I had walked on the same beach during a happier time. I wanted to go again, perhaps to feel some nostalgia. Maybe I just needed the confirmation that the air I breathed a year ago is the same that I breathed a year later. It’s amazing how much can change in year – and all I wanted was some constancy in at least one area of my life.
As I treaded with my boots across the compacted sand, I noticed that the one embankment at the end of what once led to a nice sitting spot to where the ocean waters came in was gone now. Instead, there was no sitting spot; everything was flat, and a few duck families dwelling in the reeds had taken over. To make matters brighter, I had to step over a few duck carcasses during my walk.
(Now try to stay with me, it’s about to get a little obscure…) But I realized something. That dead duck I stepped over? That was me, from the past. And by that I mean that my old life, old problems, and the old me from a year ago were dead. My naiveté, my perhaps too-hopeful approach to whatever came my way, everything.
You know that Katy Perry song “Wide Awake”? Probably one of my favorite pop jams. The real kicker is in the line “I wish I knew then/what I know now.”
That’s how I felt when I saw those dead duckies. I wish I had been less of a people-pleaser back then, a doormat (might as well have painted “WELCOME” on my forehead), and had been more of a more vocal risk-taker. I wish I had given myself credit for what I did do, rather than penalize myself for my shortcomings. I wish I had had the audacity to call some people out instead of taking the same old “Not my problem” rhetoric. It’s like I had come up with a really good comeback for those who challenged me, but only thought of after the fact. No – like the old embankment, or like Natalie Portman in “Black Swan,” that girl was gone.
I’ve learned to question everything, fight for what’s mine, and never back down.
Now that that lovely dead duck metaphor is finished…
Constancy is such a rare treasure. And there is a reason why it is so rare; not everything – especially the people we used to be – is meant to be constant. Are we not supposed to keep treading through the pier’s corridor into the unknown? The frightening, beautiful, unpredictable, chaotic unknown? Though my embankment disappeared, the tides still come and go. The food I eat for breakfast may be predictable, but as for all the other areas of my life — I choose to slip off my shoes, and step boldly through the sand into the waters.