It seems to me most of life’s magic happens outside our comfort zone.
It is 3 pm, and I am at Isla Blanca State Park on the Southernmost tip of South Padre Island. It is nice here, the sun has come out, and despite the breeze it must be in the mid to upper 60’s.
There is a very long jetty here. I decided to walk out to the end. Who doesn’t want to go to the edge, of anything? I always feel driven to know what it feels like, “all the way out there”. It doesn’t matter the place. I suppose in many regards that explains my current journey into so many unknowns.
It was a long walk, and the jetty is made of huge blocks of stone, and once you get half way out, they are not flat or smooth. It was challenging to my legs and feet, and I wondered how sore my feet would be after all of it. I would say it was almost a mile out there from the car.
More than once I stopped, wondering if I should go back. That’s when the symbolism hit me. This is a snapshot of my life these days. It was getting harder, and more slippery in places, and I knew I had to walk all the way back too. But the edge was calling, and the deep green water beckoned. Only out at the end, in the distance, did the ocean look anything but brown, as here the heavy surf churned the sand below.
I wanted to be where the water was green and blue. I wanted to be out on the tip, where I could feel the waves crashing against the rocks, shooting white tipped water 10 feet into the air. I wanted to be surrounded by the force of nature, as far from the known safety of shore as possible.
It always seems like there is magic in such places. Mountaintops, cliffs, deep forests. There is, but it is we who bring it there. We savor the edge of the unknown. When all there is is the known, where then lies the thrill of new experience? I made up my mind and felt the rush of excitement that comes with a bold decision, even a small one.
The sounds of this trek were alone worth the effort. The sea has carved out caves and tunnels below and in between the rocks. The waves crashing into hollow spaces below and spurting out the cracks and crevices was a constantly surprising, sometimes startling cacophony of sound beneath my feet as I pressed on. Water bubbled and hissed out of small holes, and splashed about more freely in bigger chasms between the giant blocks.
It got more slippery as I neared the end. I went as far as I could without being in the splash zone, which would have been a soaking deluge of sea water and spray every time the bigger sets rolled in. I sat and closed my eyes, dangling my legs into a gap between stones. The water was only a foot below my feet, and rose with the surge of the waves.
A huge set rolled in, and the water rushed up over the rocks in front of me to within 5 feet of where I was, smiling with the excitement of being right on the edge of getting cold and wet, and at the mercy of an unusually big wave. To close my eyes became an exercise in trust.
I smiled, and did just that.
When I opened them again, I saw a dolphin emerge for air right off the rocks in front of me. It was about 30 feet away. I stood up, enthralled and with my mouth open in amazement, and two more, one a very small young one, also came up for a moment. I scanned the surf, hoping to see them again, but the moment was gone.
The walk back from a place like this always seems shorter, I guess. Going back to the known is always in some respects an easier road. We take some of the edge back with us, don’t we? What called us is now part of us. In knowing the edge we are expanded.
The cold ocean served as a nice ice bath for my aching feet on my return. Thick wool socks feel good now on my feet as I recline in the van and write out my thoughts. I glance back out to the jetty, and smile. I have taken it’s gift. It is the edge no more.