Rip Tide Resolutions

3 Jan

2012.  A year that will live in infamy, for many as well as myself.   Without moaning over what’s past (which is not dead, not even past, if we believe Mr. Faulkner, and of course we do…), suffice it to say that the best thing about last year is that it is finally over.  Naturally, much of its residue lives on, the repercussions and unfinished business, and if we are really practical about it, just changing the date has little to do with changing the times, the events set in motion that will continue to perpetuate until they run out of steam or collide with something greater than themselves.  That said, as human beings we need definitive starting points and stopping places to corral the infinite into something manageable in our comparatively meager minds.  New years, new semesters, prologues, epilogues, alphas and omegas.  It derives from that thing with feathers Emily described–hope–to give us respite from the infinitum, a promise of the possibility that the worst is behind us, that better days are on the horizon, and at the very least, one is allowed a moment just to catch one’s breath before plunging in again the cold and choppy waters of this experience experiment.  Cold and choppy waters:  that reminds me.  I was swimming late one afternoon with a friend on Kwajalein, when I got caught in the rip tide as I tried to make it to shore.  No matter how hard and long I stroked, I never seemed any closer to shallow water; only when I realized I was being pushed down the coast did it occur to me that I truly was caught in a dreaded rip tide.  I tried waving and calling out to my friend, but he neither saw nor heard, having already made it to the beach where he was drying off with the towels we’d dropped there.  On the verge of panic, words of wisdom from a documentary I’d seen months earlier ran through my brain:  when caught in a rip tide, do not try to swim against the current; rather, let it carry you and it will deposit you farther down the shore.  If you try to out-swim it, you will only exhaust yourself and drown.  I gave in to its muscular pull and rode the persistent wave nearly the length of a football field down the coast till I could feel the sand beneath my feet.  Relieved, I waded back up shore to where my friend waited anxiously, looking out now to that point in the sea where he’d last seen me.   Friends and acquaintances are probably still looking for us where they think they left us last year, perhaps in the throes of some crisis or another; but if we have taken the last few weeks of the passing year to ride the wave out, to `regroup and reconsider, they may be surprised to find we have moved on, less the worst for wear than we might be had we not allowed ourselves to get away and recover.  I am thankful I have had the opportunity to return to my “old Kentucky home” these three weeks between semesters, to reconnect with family and old friends, to reabsorb the trees and hills and rain I find I miss so much, to discard the unnecessary and recover the necessary.  And though it may take a few extra steps–a metaphorical football field– to return to where I am, to prepare for the new classes beginning next week, it’s worth it.  Because I’m worth it.  And that’s a worthy resolution for the new year.

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2 Responses to “Rip Tide Resolutions”

  1. Joan Lattimore Hockman January 3, 2013 at 5:22 am #

    I have many friends who still look for me on the beach where I started. But I’ve traveled miles in the rip currents and am on a very different stretch of sand now. It shocks some of them, mostly the people who have never ventured out into the water. John and I called it The Steppenwolf Syndrome, after I read the book.

  2. Joan Lattimore Hockman January 6, 2013 at 3:03 am #

    By the way, I did get caught in a rip tide once, when I was in college. My parents had made sure I had survival swimming classes when I was a kid, and that saved me. I started swimming at an angle beween the shore and the direction of the rip tide, just shut my eyes and swam until I caught sand under my fingernails. I looked up, had swam myself onto the beach half a mile south of where I started, and was lying at the feet of a toddler who looked at me like I was the dumbest adult he’d ever seen. Then I walked back up the beach. Your analogy is wonderful. It will help me as I meet people who are discomfited by the changes in me over the past two years.

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