Walking towards the early ,morning March sunlight along the strand
Towards the foot of the cliff my mind was alert but somehow perturbed and restless
Then it caught my attention
Just a sea pool among the rocks where as a boy I fished for cobblers , and other little rockfish , crabs and shrimps.
It drew me towards it now as if I was commanded. And I obeyed
I hunched and drew my arms about me in the chill of the morning .
The gulls above me whining shrill and flung about in the wind at the cliff like so many children’s kites , unwieldy in the gusts , thrusting forwards and upwards in furtive darts and sudden swoops.
The light had caught the shadows of the ripples of the wavlets in the pool and these shadows sent shards of light across the surface to the sand below .
There in that bleakness , alone on that strand a furious thought flung upon me like a bolt.
I saw a sudden realisation of my life sketched in the empty pool.
First its emptiness of fish or crab or even those transparent shrimp.
A bleakness seemed to stretch before me and I knew I was driven to this moment . I’d a avoided it for so long and now I seemed to know why.
There it seemed before me was an animation of my life , bleak, empty shallow , and pointless. Nothing I’d ever done was of any value . No consequence . I would leave this life as insignificant a trail as those ripples of dappled light upon the sand. Insipid , vacuous , selfish alone .
I stayed there for some time in the chill of that March morning as if in a trance yet conscious of the biting gusts .
The wheeling shrieking of the gulls were the plain - chant of my life . Also shrill, mirthless , plaintiff .
My being sketched in the dappled light , in the shallow sterile pool. And I waited to see any sign of life , without turning rocks , or seaweed fronds but there was none . Only that monochrome of dark and brown shade , and the play of the light across the water .
A hollowness came into my stomach and gripped me .and I rose up to meet that day in a terror which somehow consumed me.
And I began to think of all the people who’d died . My parents.
Would I ever see anything of them ever again. Were they gone from the universe in everything but memory , and I too would go into that bleak nothingness where there is not even light , or consciousness. And all our lives …
Do we leave nothing but memories . The saint the scholar the villain the nave the despot the composer the sculpture like Michelangelo who carved and wracked his body in the pursuit of perfection in his art .All the greatest minds of science , of engineering , mathematics and medicine . Do they all just vanish when their bodies decay in the soil or burn in a furnace. Their genes and DNA oxidized or churned by the creatures of the soil never more to reassemble in the chaos of the universe . All our individual atoms scattered in entropy .
I realised in that terrible moment the fierceness of what depression must be like . And it terrified me like no other experience ever had.
To think that this was it . Just a few years of life and then whiffed away in the ripple .. Spreading out like those little waves. In all our shallow pools unto death .
In that moment I was enfeebled and sought out some comfort like the hand of a parent of a loved one who’d walked some of these steps with me ..
Were we all just part of a quirk of thermo nuclear and geo physiics ; a solitary orb in a planeraty system held together by gravitational forces , bathed in the heat and light of a sun ; one of billions of thermoneuclar balls, among a billions billion universes in inumerable dimensions . We : were we just part of these stark facts , and that fate or something brought us from amoeba to human through a process of evolution ; and were humans we necessaraly the right result of this process; or plan Was there a pprocess at all; ? Or any great plan ? Would the whole thing collapse again into one final dot of infinate mass , from where the universe exploded at the beginning ; Were we alone . Without any purpose or design .
And no matter how bleak were these thoughts , they too were in that instant all too feasable .They did away with all this altruism stuff . All that self sacrifice - just a joke ?.
And I walked back along the print of my feet on the sand .
I went back to the car and took refuge in the warmth as if I sought out comfort of the universal the uterus whence I came and the car shuddered in the gusts on that bleak March morning when I was confronted with my mortality , and the significance of my life .; all our lives . But mostly of the lives of those who strove against adversity to do good in this life . What drove their altruism . What drove the sculptor or the composer to torture his mind so he crushed every single ounce of his gift to perfect his art.
I went to the church an the hill looking down on the bay and lit a candle and my thoughts followed of their own accord . I was not conducting this symphony of thoughts . Yet I could not let them go .
What drives the mother who penniless and with sagging breast gives of her life., of her very own tissue to save her infant .
Or for that matter the seagull who will forage to feed her chicks and do so heedless of the risks she takes herself. Of mothers everywhere and their altruism . Surely nothing can be more noble than this. To give birth , and to nurture a life at any personal cost , to preserve her infant.
That they sacrifice so much while others cynics will say that only ones personal pleasure are worthy in life and that altruism is only incidental to attaining that pleasure
The father who would give his life to save his child ; and do so readily .
The mother , the father . The sculpture the composer , the poet and the painter -Pitched against those of such hollow spirit who scoff at those who strive and live only for the pursuit of pleasure .
Are we all in that sterile pool , and all our souls just like so many ripples which cast a dappled shadow across the pool and die ,our minds never to reform in any tangible or recognisable way ?
It was a long moment in my life .One which brought me to the precipice of a dark and deep despair . And in that moment for the first time I stared into the jaws of a depilating depression . I knew too that I was also as fragile and feeble as the next . No bomb nor bullet , land mine or air raid had ever foisted succh a terror on me ever as much as in that moment .
But mercifully the winds of March settled and soft showers of April coaxed the joyous green from the soil and the buds of life awakened in the high trees
.And the world turned again .