I used to think I understood things. As my hair has grayed, I’ve grown less sure of myself.
You couldn’t tell me anything in high school — I knew it all. I had life figured out. Do you remember those days?
This piece by Catez Stevens took me back to those days of youthful confidence and grandiose dreams:
I used to think that I appreciated the wind and the waves. In my earlier years I wrote poems and stories — my wave phrases. I discovered Virginia Woolf and she captured it — the rhythm, the projection. The howling salt wind was the death of a friend, the hot quiet day was a celebration, the booming surf was my challenge to the world. Once, on a very windy day, the kind where it’s hard to stay upright when walking, we went swimming in the raging surf. I stood and smashed into wave after wave. This was my unbreakable spirit. And sometimes sitting on the rocks I looked at an alien sea that I didn’t understand. “Ancient mystery”, I would think. That was my uncertainty and unknowing. I used the sea. I thought the strength of the sea was me.
Should I be embarrassed by my lack of maturity or should I think of it as a phase one goes through? Have I really passed through it? Sometimes I still want to patchwork my own phrases onto a language I didn’t invent and am learning to hear and understand. This language surpasses my own. I’m like a child who knows six letters and wants to write a novel. I’m a hermit crab struggling with an oversized shell. The love of me.
Reading Catez’s piece, I could imagine myself on that beach, full of my own power, at least at first. But gradually, relentlessly, the sea wears you down. It humbles you. As I’ve grown older, I’ve been humbled by my insignificance before the greatness of God. And yet, he takes notice of us, you and me.
I think you’ll be humbled by Catez Stevens’ Wave and Flame.