When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name;—— the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve alluded a couple of times to my recent brief New Years trip to Barbados, but have struggled with how to share about it head on. I could give a generic travelogue; I could provide a chronology of how I passed the time; I can discuss sand quality and various kinds of surf and the difference between Bajan and Jamaican foods. I have written elsewhere of the delights of sea turtles and the vagaries or tourist offerings.
But I don’t know how to share the essence of that time. I have no words that convey the luxurious simplicity of laying on the beach in good company and being fully in my body and in that moment. I have no formula to simplify the complexity of the lessons I learned in three days of nothingness. I hesitate to share the fears and discoveries a small island can hold. I don’t know how to share that intimacy with strangers, and less so with friends.
There is this: I am floating at the Eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea, upheld by my confidence in the water’s salinity and goodwill. I watch clouds, feel the sun and the breeze, wave my arms slowly to control my direction, to feel the water move against me. I can hear families laughing and chatting on the beach, children playing near the shore, mother’s yelling periodically and anxiously to stay in the shallows. I smile, close my eyes, relax into the moment. A rogue wave – maybe from a passing boat or jet ski, maybe just because that’s what waves do – rolls over my face and I sputter and cough. I re-orient to tread water, regulate my breathing, look around to confirm I am safe, and soon return to being prone under the friendly sky, the moment of concern passed and the moment of presence restored.
The road to delight is not always simple.
Not all lessons are learned the first time.
Not all fears are easily conquered with rationale.
Barbados was a step out of life – from the frenzy of Kingston to the quiet of Bridgetown. From familiar concrete onto shifting sands. I went to welcome 2015 in a way that would set me up for a year far different from what has come before. I wanted to honour endings and invite beginnings. I don’t know that one excursion can accomplish all that. I do know that watching fireworks at midnight from a beach on the Caribbean will take something to supersede – not just in my list of New Year’s Eves, but in my list of great memories.