View From The Other Side [64]

Random ripples on dipping the toe in the pool of paddling philosophy

By Trevor Costa

Ask any beach goer, they will tell you there is a line in the surf that a swimmer should not stray beyond. Stand on any beach and look out at the waves, you will see this line where the light becomes dark blue. This marks the other side, the dark depths where fish shimmer and sway to forces not friendly to humans.

The poet Hart Crane wrote of the dangers that await the careless beach goer, beyond a certain line in the surf, beyond which all is lost, “there is a line. You must not cross nor ever trust beyond it…The bottom of the sea is cruel.”

Ask any sea kayaker, they will tell you that they cross this line all the time. But press the point, push beyond the bravado and some may admit that it still doesn’t feel right out there, beyond the surf. Some may say it’s like being on the other side of a mirror. Where the backs of glassy waves race away, to small figures on the beach, looking back out at you.

But still there is comfort on the other side in this weird alternate world. Sitting in your little boat that same line looks different, you can still see it, but now it’s where the dark becomes light blue. And instead of marking the dark depths it promises warm shallows and soft white sand.

Ask any fish, if they could talk, or perhaps a whale. Would they say that they stare at that line and shiver in fear of what lies on the other side? That this is the line that they should not stray beyond, unless all is lost, then to thrust themselves across to the other side? Is there a whale poet who writes, “there is a line. You must not cross nor ever trust beyond it…The sand of the beach is cruel”?

Note to self: If I happen to look back and see myself on the beach, I must remember to wave.

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