“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I’ll be mad.”
Imperfectly Aligned in Juxtaposition
The sky was as moody as I was that day. Guts unsettled, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I only knew that I needed to go to the ocean, the one place where I feel that the various bits and pieces of different ideas can reassemble and flow.
This is the place that carries me to clarity, where I can compose my thoughts and emotions into a new kind of picture, to make sense of the mess.
I remember exactly how I felt in this evening hour: a part of me was on cloud nine—that grey one over there towards the east.
From the west the early-setting sun reflected off the new buildings, highlighting patches of bright blue and puffs of grey-black cloud nestled just below the bright white ones, tucked into the contrast.
They may have been dark grey, but they only looked threatening. They only seemed heavy.
They weren’t really about to cry.
I texted my friend: I hate having feelings.
She said ‘maybe become a vulcan?’ I giggled, because it’s exactly what I’d just been thinking too.
Something inside me was fighting itself: I felt both deeply in love but upset at the depth of those feelings.
They’d taken hold, and I was annoyed. I really just wanted them to fuck off.
How was it possible to feel so loving and so scared, so certain but insecure, all at the same time? After all, isn’t love supposed to be about joy?
Or was what I was scared of is that this wasn’t love at all?
Strolling along the familiar path, I glanced to the right and noticed a gap in the fence that was normally locked shut. As I turned sideways to sneak through it I felt a momentary jolt of joy. Walking down the plank to the old wooden rocking dock made me feel like a mischievous kid exploring some unknown place.
I was somewhere I wasn’t really supposed to be, but I knew I was safe. And it felt good to be down there. After a lifetime of living in Vancouver and walking this path, I’d never really seen this particular spot before with it’s strange combo-view of newness and rusty steel spots.
This mini-journey made me think of how no matter how familiar something is, we can always find a new view, another vantage point, a new little spot to explore.
From here I could feel myself letting go of some of the heaviness.
As I examined the steeliness of the rusted out structures, I was fascinated at the way nature was going to overtake them again. From this vantage point I could simultaneously absorb the sun’s warming rays, it’s light diffusing off of the water with such fierceness that it half-blanched out my photos.
I felt so strange this day because I didn’t know how I felt, or how I should feel. Most of the time I know these things. But here was that thing again, that heaviness that springs out of nowhere.
I come to the ocean to find meaning in things, like the seal that popped it’s head up just meters away from me. Like the teeny little rock with the skull face painted on it, which I decided to leave instead of take because it made me think of Daniel.
Objectively, everything in my life was pretty near perfect—which meant that something was about to go wrong: I was scared, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I couldn’t even identify what feelings I was feeling, really, let alone why they were swirling around in me, fighting each other. So I decided to just stop trying to do anything.
I chose to just surrender to the strangeness and beauty and complexity of what was in me and surrounding me, to not worry if I sensed that I was feeling two or three or more feelings at once, some of which felt like they were battling each other for the space that was my heart.
I was seeking clarity, but I realized on that walk that the clarity doesn’t need to be immediate or obvious. There is no need for me to be magically cured of my emotionality, as if it were some kind of sickness.
It doesn’t have to be good or bad, about anything concrete or finite. It’s not about answers. Despite the fact that there was some confusion and heaviness lingering around in my heart (for no obvious reason), I knew that being out there was right.
Our feelings themselves may be as messy as the pieces strewn about in this mismatched landscape, and it’s fine to just leave them be, to observe and explore and let perspectives shift as we wander about.
Even if we want to reject the industrial, seemingly ugly parts of our landscapes, they are still there. They may be manmade but in a sense they are still a part of our nature, now, and have to be accepted as such.
Love and fear and all the seemingly contrasting feelings sometimes come at us at once and these are the moments where we are the most human, the most vulnerable.
Loving like the ocean, loving fiercely and naturally and for life is sort of an ideal. I also believe that life brings us our feelings in a jumble of different textures and fabrics and finishes, various colors and hardnesses and perspectives, depending on the being and moment and place.
Life and love and everything that those things encompass isn’t obvious: it’s often confusing as hell, even when things feel right.
Perhaps the mere action of surrendering to this idea is what we need to sit back and truly observe the fullness of our (emotional) landscapes, their various elements imperfectly aligned in juxtaposition.
I needed to go through this mishmash of materials, to just sit and feel the sun on my shoulders to know that, despite feeling a little bit lost and scared, I am still me, and all in all, this capacity to just be here and be okay is in itself pretty spectacular.
I’m pretty sure Mr. Seagull here was feeling the same way.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: Renée Picard