May 25, 2011
He lunged forward shoving his hand toward the falling sunglasses but it was too late. Twenty feet below they slid into the green murky water of San Francisco Bay almost without a sound. He wondered for a brief moment what it would be like if he followed them into the water. Cold, claustrophobic, dark. But he was not planning to end his life, as depressing as it was at the moment. He just came to the ocean this day for answers. The early fishermen of these waters used to say the sea had answers to all problems. He shifted his weight and pushed against the old wooden rails peering deep into the rippling waves as they slapped carelessly against the underside of the dock.
He didn’t care about the glasses. They were cheap. He was against excess and self-indulgence. He cared that they were now part of the vast ocean debris–the man-made plastic reefs that circle the globe. He cared that eventually the chemicals in the plastic would leach out and contaminate and contribute to the toxic waters of his oceans. So many things crept like snakes inside his head these days. There was no place to start to think of any of them—one chaotic blur. There was no good outcome–not that he could see. And, he had looked and thought and read. There was plenty of talk and speculation by self-declared experts from every corner of the cloud, with something to gain by delivering voice to grand positive outcomes, however improbable. His generation and those behind it were doomed.
He was overcome by the apathy of denial by most as they turned down the volume of pain in their heads with prayers to some cruel god with a familiar face. God provided an excuse to do nothing. If there was a god, and he thought it possible something was out there, it wasn’t the cool gambler, the schizophrenic overseer people were so willing to accept. His god was a creation of science, an entity far too grand to dabble in the petty pathetic lives of men whose vision barely extended past their I Phones and 401ks. His god would not need sculptures, beads, gold structures or even a chorus of voices. His god was a mind, in a thought, in a instant, part of his (and everyone’s) very being. There was no need for anything but a conscious intent.
He wished his mother was here. She would have something calming to say to pick him up from his dark mood. He heard the dark blue water swirl below him and slap the piers. Just then a large California Sea Lion popped up like a bottle full of air. Something caught his eyes. He looked closer. There, on the head of the sea lion perched his sunglasses. They rode his head like a cool surfer. He called out to the sea lion and it seemed to look right at him but then with a smooth slick twist of his bulky frame the sea lion swung its weight onto a small platform under the piers. The shiny beast barked and wiggled his way to a sunny spot near the front edge nudging out two smaller males. They complained but moved over without hesitation. Then, with a shake of his head the glasses went flying and landed on a walkway about twenty feet away, out of the ocean and within his reach just a few yards away. For a moment, he thought about this familiar god; another joke from the ultimate comedian? Marine life fighting back against human ambivalence Oddly, he felt a flicker of hope for the future of his generation and the ones on his heels. Maybe the sea could save itself.
The sun was out now and the deck was already warming up. A musty old wood smell met his nose and he smiled. It was turning into a warm and clear San Francisco day with a layer of fog that stood back at the horizon line. The fog waited. It was waiting for that simple thing that would change just enough so it could roll back in and cover the Bay and the dock and the sea lions with a cool white haze. But for now, this minute anyway—the fog stood back and he had hope.