Today was shaping up to be a dozen things. It began with a long walk in the morning frost, steps towards removing the hibernation band that’s appeared around my waist over winter. Then it was time spent on another short story. This one’s about the descent of a man, about the stretching of time and the perspective that offers as he falls twenty-four storeys to the earth. And after crafting a fiction about the plummeting of a fragile soul, I had to shift head-space and finish writing an application for a grown-up job in the big city.
All the while the sun beckoned. It stroked my cheek as I hung washing on the clothes line. It slipped between the tilted blinds behind the computer, casting venetian shadows on the teal wall behind me. And it played along the drift of incense smoke that drifted from the mantlepiece, charming the strands of burnt sandalwood, teasing the wisps of charred Dragon’s Blood.
The call of outside was too loud. I clicked a “Send” button, then lifted my speakers on my way out to the car. I lowered all the windows, tapped a playlist, and drove towards the steeply stacked shoreline and wooden boneyards that define Turakina Beach. As Katchafire replaced Coldplay (don’t dare judge me…) I grinned out the window to the blue skies and suckling lambs of almost-spring.
The neighbouring west coast beaches tend towards dark sands and isolation. As I wound between low sand dunes I slipped my shoes from my feet and slowed, letting the earth’s warmth ease my long-stowed toes. There was a single vehicle parked high on the sand, abandoned and empty. The low tide exposed long walking options north and south. I chose to head northward, clambering over bridges built of china-white logs and mammoth’s tusks, to where the green paddocks of ocean-side farmlets crumble like shortcake, into the blue-green sea.
I slipped headphones over ears and set a soundtrack to my meander. I let the beat run through me, I dropped my jersey and hat in a dry-beach stack. I danced in the shifting line between states of liquid and solid. I leapt from logs, pirouetted with my shadow, and let the narratives of past and future slip away. And as I span in gentle circles, there was no one to judge, no whispers, no giggles that weren’t my own.
At the moment I spend the majority of my week alone, installed in my 88 days of thoughts and words. But within this oasis my head is rarely resting within a moment. Rather it’s shuttling back and forth, between past and future. The one exception is when I’m inside the head of a character. A man bound to himself with cable-ties and determination, a girl trying to interpret dinosaur footprints, an oak tree trying to interpret a young boy’s pain. Then I’m inside their moment.
But I need to remember to make time to spend with myself. With a tune, in the sun, with my shade and my light. My heartbeat is a rhythm, and while it beats I have to remember to make time to dance.