what happens next

Piping Plover by Mike Morel/USFWS
piping plover by Mike Morel, Puerto Rico

The details don’t matter – they belong to all of us – and loss, after all, is mostly a story about what happens next. What’s next for me, it seems, is the story of realizing that if there are answers at all, they might not be found in the broadest expanses. I find myself mostly lowering my habitual gaze-out-to-sea and settling down to rummage in these greenish-brown, often stinking, bug-infested wrack lines, the likes of which I must have skirted or stepped over thousands of times in my younger-me rush to get to the water. Sometimes I notice what lies tangled within them: the moon snail with its grotesque foot, trash turned into sea glass, driftwood, egg cases, jellyfish. And sometimes I notice what’s gone. Not just my grandiose quest, but also the vanished tangible.
~ Barbara Hurd
(Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts & What Remains)

19 thoughts on “what happens next”

    1. Laurie, I found Barbara Hurd’s amazing book, Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs & Human Imagination at a flea market the day after I visited Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia. That discovery led me to another of her books, Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts & What Remains, the source of this quote. Waiting in my want-to-read line is a third title, Entering the Stone: On Caves & Feeling Through the Dark.

    1. I feel she was looking for answers to those existential and philosophical questions that seem to plague so many of us…

  1. I remember seeing a plover at one of the empty beaches at Catalina Island. I was so enthralled; it quite took my attention away from Boyfriend and his surfing!

    We are always at the beach, shell collecting and bird watching. And we always follow those lines, inspecting what the ocean’s generosity has brought us. (wrack lines – glad I finally have an official term!)

    1. It seems we should have piping plovers on our shoreline – perhaps I just haven’t noticed one yet. (I’m still exhilarated over discovering there are different kinds of gulls!) I will be looking more carefully for them now that I’ve seen this stunning photo and have read about how the plover you saw captured your attention. Up until recently I’ve regarded wrack lines as “stinking” and “bug-infested” but will be looking at them with a different eye from now on!

  2. I understand this! It seems that as we start to come home to ourselves our attention finally–finally!–begins to settle with the everyday happenings. The simple revelations. The tiny details. Life begins to reverberate from what is revealed in the moment rather than the broad expanse of idealism, of mind. Yesterday I looked at the hands of the clock and it was as if they were never seen before, brand new. The way the fingers grasp the glass can be seen as utterly mind-blowing. (May have forgotten this all by tomorrow, lol, love it that we can keep pointing one another in the direction of what feels like home again and again.

      1. I LOVE what you wrote here, Kathy! The quote of Rolf Edberg I keep at the top of my sidebar, “In still moments by the sea life seems large-drawn and simple. It is there we can see into ourselves,” has taken on a whole new meaning to me lately, especially as I read the Joan Tollifson books you recommended to me. (Thank you so much for that!) Most of my life I’ve been trying to step over and ignore the figurative wrack lines in search of the extraordinary, the ultimate. But the “large-drawn” and the “simple” are one in the same. The horizon still beckons, but the wrack line by the sea has finally been revealed in all its seemingly insignificant details, all part of this amazing, changing, evolving, dazzling universe…

  3. Life is all a surprise, the more we search for answers the more we get surprises. But, wondering by watching through the deep sea, that’s something which always leaves certain messages for us. I’m at my hometown, for festival.. its a place of sea beaches… can’t be more happier! hope you are doing good too, Barbara.

    1. Oh yes, Sonali, life is surely a constant flow of surprises! It’s amazing how our perspectives change over the years, how once we looked for messages beyond the horizon of the sea and how in another part of our lives we pay attention to the messages the sea deposits right at our feet, there in the wrack line. I remember how much you love the sea, too, my friend, and so you must be thoroughly enjoying festival time in your hometown. 🙂

  4. Hi Barbara. Walking on the beach, searching for smooth stones and interesting shells, looking up occasionally to see the surf … this is one of the greatest enjoyments I can think of …. Jane

    1. Oh Jane, I do share your enthusiasm for beach combing and shell collecting. Walking and wading along the shoreline is one of those simple pleasures that makes life worth living, and filling us with joy…

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