Monday, 8 April 2013

The Coastal Path

I take off along the coastal path in my worn-out running shoes, shorts and a red windbreaker. The sun is visible but fuzzy through the clouds and the wind whips my hair up and around. I walk-jog over the hard-packed sand, pock-marked with thousands of vague feet outlines, and I think about how many years people have walked this path and the places they may have been headed. I don't know where I am headed. Possibly nowhere; possibly everywhere at once. Insights such as these can only transpire with hindsight; I am unable to squint into the future the way some people seem to be able to. When I try to, I feel blinded, as though driving into the sun just before dusk. The most beautiful time of day. The clouds whirl lightly above me and it's as though there is a gentle current flowing through the sky; I think that perhaps if I made myself dizzy enough, I would be unable to tell the sky from the sea. I often feel upside-down that way.

When I was a kid, I would lie on my bed backwards, with my head hanging upside-down off the end. When my mother asked what I was doing, I told her that I was simply looking at things from a different perspective. My room looked completely different the wrong way up. I thought that perhaps everything would, if you looked differently. It made me wonder if all the things that seemed so familiar really were so. It made me wonder if I could change my entire world with a movement or a turn of my head. The possibilities in the world seemed endless this way, and my wonder at it become insatiable.

About a mile down the coastal path, I speed from a walk-jog into a run, a sprint, and I listen to my breathing, short and sharp, and I run until I cannot carry on. I stop beside a huddle of rocks that are sheltered from the wind beside a tree, and I sit and watch the fuzzy sun move imperceptibly across the sky like the minute hand on a clock when it is half four on a Friday. I stretch my legs out in front of me and tense them, watching the muscles change and transform. Suddenly, the wind drops and the world becomes bright and bleached by the sun. The sea fades on the horizon. Everything is quiet.

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