Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Eye

I have always been a very strong swimmer. I felt comfortable in water well over my head from the time I first found myself afloat, and the story goes that my parents, upon taking me to the beach and having turned their attention to set down a blanket, witnessed me sprinting at full gate towards the waves.

By contrast, I’ve only been confident as a writer since I grasped how to spell, many years after learning to speak and then read. I did always feel comfortable writing though, despite the fact that I was discouraged to do so by many around me. I am the product of a turbulent family life, my time having been spent battening hatches and waiting out torrents.

Once, while in my teens and surfing a pretty large storm, I got myself into a bit of a predicament which required me to take an enormous leap of faith contrary to instinct. I was looking backwards towards the incoming sets while straddling a large board that held me high in the water, and as I realized that I was behind the break I turned to discover that the wind was blowing me off-shore. Quickly. As the gale intensified I saw my familiar landmarks diminish, and knew surfing had ceased for the day and the work of survival was in order.

From where I sat in the water I knew and felt two divergent paths before me: One was to remain with the board and perceived safety and drift far out to sea. The other was to unstrap the leash and swim. The moment I stripped the Velcro from my ankle the decision was iron: the wind took the board and flipped it into the horizon. I turned and faced a strong perpendicular undercurrent for about 45 minutes, side stroking for bearing then crawling hard-fought sets at a time. When I reached the break I body surfed one in, and lay frozen onshore whittling the experience into a manageable form.

So I found myself on protected terrain yet far from home, awash in a storm though gathered against it. As once again I am there today, having cut all ties to my former employ, and commencing a career solely as a writer. From this day forward all roofs and morsels allotted by exchange to this being will be earned by craft.


Jamie said...

Very well written. And I get to be the first to say so!

Glad you made it back to shore to tell us about it. Good luck with the writing carreer, sure you'll do great!

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