I sit on a rocky promontory,

Gazing over the waters of the sea.

Waves splash below me, sending a spray of water

From a sea, ill-tempered and intemperate.

Somewhere in the distance, a boat has passed

And the waves have reached the shore,

The waters angered by the disturbance.

The water reaches across the rocks

Forming pools in crevices created at an earlier time;

Eroding a little more stone to become

The sand of some far off beach.

In an endless rhythm, the waves strive

For the beach and are mercilessly drawn back.

A twig is caught in the ebb and flow

Never certain when it will get thrown

Too far up the sands or finally drawn

Into deeper waters to voyage somewhere else.


Caught in pools, between the larger rocks,

A microcosm has formed of predator and prey,

A world of colour and beauty, life and death.

The flowery anemone, waving in the eddies,

Await their prey with numbing venom.

A small crab picks through the sand,

Scavenging for carrion from other meals past,

Crawling aside to move around a sea star.

Urchins, moving ever so slowly across the rocks,

Their spiny coverings a defence against attack.

Small fish, trapped with the last tide,

Eating plant and animal, their escape

Hours away, at the mercy of the moon.

Vertebrate and invertebrate, together,

Calling this home; for now or forever.


The sea is the beginning

And, ultimately, the end.

Great distances

I sat down recently to come up with some of the great distances in the known universe and think I have discovered the one that trumps them all.

Riding the elevator on Toronto’s CN Tower? Like falling off a log.

Leaping the chasm of the Grand Canyon? Pfft, nothing!

Swimming the Pacific Ocean? Like taking a bath.

Visiting the Oort Cloud at the edge of our solar system? A walk on a foggy day.

No, my friends, none of these is even close to the Greatest Distance in the Universe. That title goes to the space between the nib of a pen and the paper beneath it. I know this, because I have spent hours of my life watching people who cannot traverse this great gap.

The pen sits poised. Ink tantalizingly and agonizingly close to realizing its dream of spreading through the fibres of the paper. You can practically hear the Siren call of the note pad, seducing the ink to come join it in creative matrimony.

And yet, nothing.

The muscles of the hands tighten. The forearm presses harder into the table. The blood accelerates through the capillaries. Neurons in the brain fire in all directions. The spirit wails in unfulfilled lust.

And yet, nothing.

The gap is too large. The rewards uncertain. The risks too high.

Like a supportive father-to-be, I want to scream “Push!” and remind them to breathe.

Like a bicycle-training parent, I just want to nudge their hand to the paper and trail alongside it as it wends its way across the page, releasing just as it seems they have the hang of it.

Like a police psychologist, I just want to talk them down, let them know it will be okay.

But I am powerless in this process. This is something they have to do for themselves, much as I did for myself. When they are ready, they will write.

Until then, as a friend, I will stand with them at the edge of the abyss and imagine what is on the other side, awaiting them.

Any journey is an individual one, no matter how many people come along. (View from Mt. Baker in Washington State)

Any journey is an individual one, no matter how many people come along. (View from Mt. Baker in Washington State)