A dog barks a few houses over. On the path behind the wall a jogger pounds out her rhythmic pace; it’s almost musical. A bird chirps; high above an airplane draws a white line across the brilliant turquoise of the desert sky. It is peaceful. Quiet – a good place to think.
A decision has been made today – not that it was much of a decision. My life has never been one of a great many options; the currents of events always directing my footsteps – sometimes willingly, sometimes less so. Nevertheless it’s easy to put off thinking about the future it until there’s a piece of paper on the table in front you that needs your signature (I’ll tell you about it later – stay tuned).
It’s too easy to think of the suffering – even here a world away the intensity of the memories are always right there behind the firewall; waiting to be accessed – something I do often, probably too often. It’s my life – who I am – what I’ve done; how could I not? My value, as the economists would say. But I do wonder if I’m ready to return. The desert has been good for me – my turbulent soul has found some rest; among the people and in the places that I knew before it all started. But is it enough? I suppose that’s a question without an answer.
“Life is like a wave,” a wise man I used to know once explained to me. “And you are the surfer facing the waters, looking for that perfect one; yours. They come relentlessly, swelling sometimes harder and sometimes softer while you wait at the line-up. But which one to ride? Any of them might do – but you must know better, must distinguish. When you make your choice, you need to commit – all in; the wave will not forgive the hesitant. You then ride it with all your skill, using your experience and your knowledge of the currents. And, maybe most important, you should know when to get off. This is the hardest thing, because you will not want to. You are having a great time; and the power is so addictive, the energy should be endless, right? Why can’t I just abide? But if you do, before you know it the whitewater will be upon you and you will be crushed against the rocks.”
I have missed the wave a few times – I know this, can admit it to myself now even if at the time I pretended it wasn’t so. Worse, once or twice I have ridden the wave too long; something that caused immense pain and heartache. As I paddle forward, preparing to catch the next wave I can’t but stop and wonder if it is actually cresting, and I just can’t see it. If the whitewater is waiting on the other side of my blindness. Futile conjecture, I know – I have a family to feed too; and this is what I do, right? But still, I cannot help but wonder if my luck will hold. Will the wave support me just a little longer? Or will the tide crashing around transform me into another victim of the madness – like so many I have known?
Idle thoughts on an idle afternoon, I suppose. Either way, only time will tell.