As I stood on the shore practicing the tradition of people everywhere — letting my feet be buried in the sand by the tide — I knew I was ready to begin writing again. I’ve taken a bit of an unplanned but necessary break from writing. Between 2013 and 2017 I published as much as I could: op-eds, analyses, reactions, and research. Much of that culminated in my first book released in 2018.
And after that, nothing.
I needed space and silence.
I found myself traveling the country a lot, specifically visiting our National Parks. It’s a journey I’m still on. On the surface, it’s a personal goal to see each of our parks. Yet I’ve met my greatest teacher on these travels, the teacher who takes many forms: nature.
It was in a recent trip to Redwood National Park when I knew that I was ready. I camped north of Redwood, in Harris Beach State Park along Oregon’s beautiful coastline. During the evenings, between dinner and evening beer, I hiked a few minutes from my tent to the shore to watch the sunset. On my few nights there, I perched on top of a rock to watch the sun make the blue ocean glow into a vibrant orange. On my last night, I moved toward the waves that were crashing in and let myself sink with each retreat of the wave back into the sea.
I stared downward for a while. As the water drew gently backwards and slowly moved sand over feet, I thought about the layers of my life that needed to be pulled back in the last year. Multiple reasons left my confidence entirely devoid of substance. And frankly, the world is full of people all having something to say.
Who the fuck am I to be so arrogant to think my voice would add any meaning to the conversation?
Nature invited me to be silent for a while, to be still, to meditate. It was a space I needed, but it’s a space I’m exiting. I’ve learned much from the divine in the midsts of forests and deserts, from the sound of a bird chirping to the crash of a wave upon land. I’ve jotted down words along the way that I’ll be fleshing out here. Mostly this is just for me, a journal of sorts, if you will. But maybe there’s something that clicks for you, that invites more conversation. And we need conversation now more than ever. The world is excessively loud. Words clutter our airwaves. There’s a lot of yelling, and perhaps rightly so, at times. Yet I cannot help but wonder: where is the listening? Where is the actual conversation? Whatever is left of that space is where I want to be.
Scripture says faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. I’m not sure about all that, but this grain of sand wants to have a conversation. Who wants to join me?